Saturday, August 03, 2013

Who Watches The Watchmen?

"Hi, I'm not home right now, but if you'd like to talk to the National Security Agency, just start talking after the tone."
Ha, ha. Life is so funny in the twenty-first century I sometimes forget to laugh. There's so much information just laying around for anyone to pick up, it's a wonder that we have any time at all for our own lives. Did you want to see what it looked like when George Zimmerman got pulled over for speeding in Texas? You can watch the video from the camera mounted on the dashboard of the state trooper who pulled him over and discovered that, believe it or not, George was carrying a gun with him at the time. The folks at Google Earth have even done us the solid of removing the smudge where Dick Cheney's house used to be, or still is. There's even a safer, easy to make recipe for napalm out there. You don't have to look very hard.
Andy Warhol suggested that in the future we would all be famous for fifteen minutes. The trouble with this assertion is that it was made with mid-twentieth century attention spans. These days we are lucky if we get the full fifteen minutes, especially when there's a new cat video uploaded approximately every twelve seconds. And our level of fame has shifted substantially since Andy was painting soup cans as well. "Famous" these days could mean "going viral," which meant something completely different in Andy's time. These days it's not so important that you learn how to play the piano well, but owning a cat that will let you pretend that they can is really your ticket.
Then there's the ever-present reality TV angle. For most of the people who appear on these shows, the talent they seem to share is the willingness to appear on these shows. I was musing the other night to my wife about what future generations will make of ours as they look back on our archived video record. "Real Housewives" and "Mischievous Maids." "Ice Road Truckers" and "Teen Moms." It is no surprise that the Public Broadcasting Service continues to have to legitimize its broadcasting day to remain funded by our government since our attention seems to be transfixed on Duck Dynasty and Honey Boo Boo. The fact that the networks producing these last two shows are, respectively, the Arts and Entertainment Network and The Learning Channel is just barely ironic at this point.
Which brings me to the fuss here in Oakland, where citizens bristled at the idea of using federal funds to install an expanded surveillance center to monitor the port. This new "Domain Awareness Center" will have the capability to pool in different camera feeds within the city and the port. It may also include license plate readers as well. These disgruntled townsfolk, who shouted "Shame! Shame!" at the City Council after the decision was made to go ahead, are obviously missing the point: They will soon be part of the fist federally funded reality show. Instead, they should have been shouting, "Fame! Fame!"

No comments: