The difference between the two videos is fucking huge. People immediately help both the white and the black woman in the first video. It’s especially striking that the black woman is helped by two women, who aggressively go against a Big Black Dude who looks like he could knock them across the room, too (and has clearly no compunctions in doing so, judging from his girlfriend’s face). This makes the excuses from the 2nd video look pretty unconvincing. Alternatively, it can be seen as the man being judged by the appearance of the woman he’s with, i.e. a man with a “slut” at his side is judged more likely to pull a weapon than a man with a “nice woman”.
Also striking is that in the 2nd video, you can clearly see the blame shifting, when a dude at a neighboring table says that “they” are making a scene and embarrassing themselves “as a couple”: the situation is now both the man’s and the woman’s fault, something completely absent from the first video.
There’s a whole bunch of interesting things going on in the videos, like the fact that men act against the skinny white dude, but women act against the black dude (though obviously with such a tiny sample size, that might just be coincidence), and that in both these cases, the helpers are willing to physically defend the women, while physical harm is used as an excuse to do nothing in the second video. The clothes and statures they put the men in are also interesting, since the white skinny guy is wearing a suit, while the big black guy is dressed more casually, which looks to me like they’re projecting different, somewhat racially stereotypical, forms of power.
So anyway, the blond, white, conservatively dressed woman gets the most and most immediate help, by the most people (both men and women). The black “slut” gets the least, and is accused of being a prostitute and of being partially responsible for the situation. It seems then that there’s both positive and negative gender (and race) stereotypes involved 1: the former is the best fit for the “damsel in distress”, while the latter is the best fit for the “trashy slut”. Also, the black conservative woman and the white “slutty “woman are helped only by women (the former directly, the latter indirectly via a phonecall to the cops); this might be because women are less likely to attribute blame for domestic violence to the victim than men are2, i.e. the “innocent victim” signal seems to disappear sooner for men than for women.
Now, the connection between dress and morality is pretty obvious from the videos, but I’m thinking class enters into it too. The women in the black minidress are judged as lower-class (all the way down to prostitute), and like I said, this seem to transfer onto the man at least in the case of the black couple, who is also judged as lower class, and therefore possibly more likely to become violent on the spot; they also are judged as “trashy”, and therefore the situation isn’t perceived as domestic violence, but as one of those stereotypical “embarrassing” arguments that “trashy” couples have in public. The case of the white couple probably has different class dynamics since they dressed the guy in a fancy suit, but even so, the other people in the restaurant fail to identify with the “trashy” woman and therefore don’t bother acting. I’d have loved to see them attempting to dress the women in a sexually revealing but high-class outfit, to see if the change in perceived class would have made a difference. The reason I’m thinking it might have (thought not necessarily so) is because of stronger empathy by middle-class people for middle-class people, and because the Western Cultural tradition attaches morality stronger to the choices of the poor than to the choices of the rich, especially in terms of women’s clothing.3.
All in all, a pretty fucked up situation, but apparently quite typical for our society (though… I’m mildly concerned that all the studies I found were done on undergrads. I know they’re easy to get a hold of when you’re a scientist, but I have my doubts about just how representative they are of society as a whole)