Monday, November 30, 2009


Foucault's concept of panopticon has always fascinated me. I actually learned about it for the first time in my freshman year of NYU, during my writing class. Foucault's argument in this case relates to the fact "how we participate in practices of self-regulation in response to systems of surveillance, whether they are in place or simply assumed to be in place" (Sturken & Cartwright, 107). In simpler words, Foucault debates the human action in a situation that is controlled by the gaze of the entity in power, versus the human actions in a situation that is not obviously being controlled, but that might be in some way. he wonders whether or not people self-regulate themselves when they know they are being watched and whether or not they do it when they think they are being watched. In the words of the authors of our textbook, :we could easily say that the camera is used here as a form of intrusion and policing of our behavior" (p. 107).
Foucault's concept can be applied to many instances across our society: surveillance cameras are just one of the many examples. It is interesting to see the difference in people's actions when they know they are being watched versus when they think they are not watched.

But the entire debate reminded me of my favorite book from high school that we read one time. I'm talking about George Orwell's "1984" of course. The book is a brilliant dystopian fiction that tells a story of a man named Winston Smith who works for The Party that controls the lives of all the people living in Oceania, through the use of constant surveillance in the form of telescreens that constantly show the face of the ultimate ruler, The Big Brother. I absolutely love the book, and I think that it is a great fictional novel to read for all those of you who still haven't. It tells a crazy story with a crazy and unexpected ending, and it leaves you wanting more. Below, I allowed myself to paste a trailer for the 1984 movie that came out in ... 1984. :) Hope you enjoy.

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