One of my personal criteria’s, (for what its worth) for what makes a great film a work a art is one in which, upon your return to it at different stages of your life, you continue to glean more understanding about the workings of life from it than prior viewings. This happened today for me with Guy Maddin’s 1992 film, “Careful“After trying to desperately “catch up” to some semblance of PhD rigour in my understanding of poststructuralism, I am starting to have my own personal Henry Higgins/Elisa Dolittle moment of, “By George, I think she’s got it!”. (I still have a ways to go of course, but since I enjoy learning, I anticipate a continued expansion in my knowledge on poststructuralism and other philosophies and theories for the rest of my life. )
But for now, I was chatting with my Husband, Brian about what I’ve synthesised so far about poststructuralism as it relates to selfies. (Broadly, what my PhD research focuses on.) This was brought up due to articles that Brian randomly sends me from popular media from time to time that usually express, ( In my view), very extreme ideas of the potential dangers of creating selfies. The warnings usually state things such as, Selfies can cause diseases from something gross but treatable, such as head lice ( I guess from people with head lice putting their heads together during selfie shots) to very serious claims of causing mental illnesses such as narcissism or being an indicator of murderous psychopathic tendencies.
The latest one he sent today was titled, “ When Selfies Go Wrong: 17 Deadly Selfies”. When I opened it I saw very quickly that it contained either photoshopped images of supposed deadly selfies or photographic images that I staunchly do not classify as selfies. For example the first one claimed a shark attacked some guy on his honeymoon no less..(oh sob!)..while “foolishly snapping a selfie”. What a fool, he should have never taken a selfie or he would be alive!
Wait, he is alive, as the picture is a hoax and it took me all of two seconds to find the corresponding two images photoshopped together on google.
So, why would popular media put out such constant stream of extreme warnings about selfie production, ( and really the use of all technology)?
Ah, we’re getting to the “poststructuralism” part, finally…..
The quick answer, power. Perhaps it’s a way of maintaining the power over the “order” they have a hand in constructing and controlling. “Let’s tell them it’s vain, girly stuff, (cause girl stuff is bad and weak).. it’s narcissistic, tell them it could even kill them! Come on, listen to us, we (popular media ) have your best interest in mind! ”
There are probably many reasons to propagandise people away from using their personal cameras as tools that potentially deviate from what is currently deemed societally and socially acceptable forms of memorialising ones life, but two immediately come to mind.
- First, to prevent citizen journalism. Look at the power people have literally in their hands to capture any unfair treatment they may randomly come across. That must be stopped to maintain the power structures in place.
- And secondly, gender and how those roles are expected to behave. Woman and Men must behave and present themselves in the gender tropes the power structure has created for them. If people begin to define their own alternative, less confining image of themselves, ( which happens through regular explorations of self-imaging ones self), the power and order could lose control of them being good little unquestioning citizens that buy and make the things that keep the powers wealthy and in control.
An unfortunate growing trend in journalism is to take the “company line” towards presenting information. Journalists feel it is in their best interest put out only the information sanctioned by the corporate powers that control the news companies they work for to in order to keep their jobs.
So, (getting back to the film), having a strange mind that makes unusual connections, these constant mass media proclamations of the supposed deleterious outcomes of selfie production reminded me of the prologue from Guy Maddin’s brilliant 1992 film, “Careful”. It is a film about a fictitious small Swiss-like Village of Tolzbad and the omnipresent danger of constant avalanches and the absolute necessity to keep one’s emotions and sound suppressed at all times, for fear of causing devastation to their village. Shot intentionally like a movie from the silent film era, it brilliantly shows through humour how the constant messages broadcast from “the powerful in the community” instructing how one needs to conduct themselves in order to live their lives safely and prudently, how this suppression and agreed repression ultimately effects the citizens very gravely. I watched just the first five minutes of the prologue again today and I felt it illustrated many poststructuralist ideas of the symbolic order and power structures we come to believe to be the only way we can be. I recommend viewing the entire film of course, but hopefully this rambling post and 5 minute clip below might encourage those who have not seen the film to do so! It just gets better with every viewing.
So, don’t call the illuminati patrol, I haven’t lost the plot!
Do realise this is just a snappy 1133 word blog post and not my PhD thesis and know that I am aware these are pretty broad sweeping statements. I am also well aware that there is a dark side to selfies and also to technology use. It is prudent and urgent to have a balanced approach towards including the new tech devices into our lives in order to prevent loss of civil liberties through surveillance and data mining. I just observe that often times the wrong kind of press is getting out there, fear mongering people into submission instead of informing. Instead of fear mongering the masses into behaving with social propriety with their technology, what about about covering with the same zeal, the stories about the devastating pollution and literal slave labor that the tech industry gleefully participates in? The list of corporate and political abuses with technology can go on for miles.
But let us not forget that many technologies we think of as seamless aspects of everyday life, such as transportation, architecture, farming, text and language, fire, etc..we obliviously forget that we are a species that creates and adapts to “technology” in our lives. For better or worse, all technology should be carefully monitored but not fear mongered by the “powers in charge” in order to suppress the masses.
P.S. More random stuff…The title of this post is inspired from the song, “Careful with that Axe, Eugene”, by Pink Floyd. Being someone born back in stone age, I realise not everyone would “get that”, har har…