'Compliance': A Controversial Tale of Authority

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In 2004, a McDonald’s manager in Kentucky received a disturbing call from a police officer. He told her one of her employees was under suspicion of stealing from customers, and that he needed her help.

Over the phone, he gave her several bizarre instructions. He began by asking her to strip search her employee, and to enlist an accomplice to commit even more intrusive acts. Several forms of sexual assault followed.

Of course, the caller was not a police officer. It was the latest in a decade-long string of hoaxes, in which cop impersonators convinced fast food managers to abuse their young female employees.  

But how could this happen? How could these managers leave their conscience — and their rationality — at the door?

Craig Zobel is the director of a new movie based on this true story. "Compliance" is an exploration our relationship to authority, and it launches a limited release today.