Spycam Chic

The Surveillance Society: Part Two

What was once considered pathological is common behavior in the age of SPY-TV. "It is neither a question of secrecy nor of perversion," the French critic Jean Baudrillard writes in Simulations, "but a kind of thrill of the real, or one of an aesthetics of the hyperreal, a thrill of alienation and of magnification, of distortion in scale, of excessive transparency, all at the same time." In other words, the omnivideo environment is producing a radical cultural response.

Spycam chic allows us to revel in the invasion of cameras— not to mention the deployment of thermal sensors, parabolic mics, Internet "cookies," laser probes: all the dark technics of the information age. Stylization dispels the anxiety that mass monitoring arouses; it provides an aura of power and mastery in an uncontrollable world. But this feeling is a fleeting high. When the show ends, the gaze remains— and the surveillance society is humanized.

Next Week: Madison Avenue Is Watching You

Will Smith sports the surveillance look in Enemy of the State
Touchstone Pictures And Jerry Bruckheimer
Will Smith sports the surveillance look in Enemy of the State

This is the second of a three-part series.

Read part one: Spycam City.
Read part two: Spycam Chic.
Read part three: Spy Commerce.

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