Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman) is the perfect example of everything Keating is against. During the procession in the beginning of the movie, he is holding the banner that says “tradition,” and from then onwards represents tradition throughout the entire movie.
For example, on the first day of Keating’s class, Keating tells them they will all die one day, and it is up to them to take advantage of situations and make the most out of life. After class, Cameron asks if they will be tested on that material showing his concern only for his grades and future career, not about what he can do to make the most of his life. Also, during their study group, Knox comes back from dinner and talks about Chris. Cameron shows no sympathy to Knox by telling him to forget about her and do trig. When Keating tells the class to rip out the pages of Pritchard’s introduction, Cameron watches everyone else do so, and only rips out his pages after he is encouraged to do so by Neil. Cameron only comes to the DPS meeting because everyone else is. He tells his madman story after Neil tells his to go along with the group.
Principles of GroupThink:
Irving Janis’s 8 symptoms of groupthink from John Sabini’s Social Psychology:
- overestimate the group they are a part of
- believe in the inherent morality of the group, regardless of how immoral its plans are
- develop group rationalizations for defective policies
- rely on stereotypes of their adversary rather than accurate conceptions
- suppress rather than express their doubts and reservations about a decision
- have the illusory belief that the group is unanimous in its decision when many in fact have doubts and reservations
- overtly call upon those who do express criticism to suppress that criticism out of loyalty to the group or its leader
- sometimes appoint someone such as a “mindguard,” who is in charge of suppressing dissent
It is Cameron (acting like Judas) who betrays Keating for his own purposes. He is “brainwashed” (term used loosely here, as he is still responsible for his own actions) into believing that Keating is the cause of Neil’s suicide and is the first to sign the confession. Because of his betrayal, Nwanda punches him (like Peter cutting off the Temple servant’s ear when they came to arrest Jesus) and is expelled for his behavior.
In the end, Cameron does not stand in support of Keating, as many of the others. He is unable to admit that he sold himself out for the sake of his academic career. He never does learn the concept of free thought and is much more comfortable doing what he is told.