For our sake

I’ve just seen few episodes of US tv series „Castle”. It’s about criminal investigations leaded by the writer and homicide detective with an increasing support of new technologies. The scheme of the episodes is similar – the body was found, they have to find the killer. They start from a detailed reconstruction of the last days of the victim. So they analyze data from bank account statements, videos from  ATMs monitoring, phone records, information about card payments, street monitoring, geolocalization etc. This is really impressive how much information about every day life of common citizens are gathered. One could be anxious, but int the series all that surveillance machinery is presented as acting on our favor. You may even think that it makes our life more secure, because by monitoring, for example, you can identify the killer. Even though monitoring on the show have not yet saved anyone, because the police are watching it AFTER the victim was killed.

I watched whole season but didn’t find any reference to privacy issues or possible abuses of the surveillance technology. Servility of the American movie and tv production to the ideology promoted by the state is well known, this is just another example. I found it noteworthy because this is a sign that pop culture joined the war against whistleblowers  like Snowden. And the power of pop culture influence on common thinking should not be underestimated. This reflection starts with frankfurter’s school and still is developing. Very interesting insights came from Tim Edensor’s reflection over how pop culture builds nationalism (in ‚National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life’). I think we  can easily and legitimately transpose it on the other fields – like privacy issues. He make a good point in the discussion about roots of nationalism. Most of the previous authors argued if it comes from the elites, state or grassroots activism but he showed how the material  and pop culture shape our identity (you may find it close to Michael Billing’s idea of ‚banal nationalism’). But what is important here it is the indication Edensor made about the close connection between an ideology that supports the State and role of the pop culture that is only seemingly entertaining.

Just think how different is the position of surveillance in the ‚Castle” series that in candid camera format. The old one taught us that new tech can be dangerous for our privacy and we should be careful with them, the new one is the opposite, it is just a pure apologia of the big brother’s system. But during the cold war tracking citizens was supposed to be enemy’s malpractice, not the good ones’.

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