Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Big Brother Is Watching You!

I wrote the following in 2005 (I have pulled it from a book I was writing at the time)

When I first encountered the band Hard-Fi on Later with Jools Holland, I sighed with relief that wonderful, inspiring, high-octane music is far from dead. The programme also featured Arcade Fire, the Black Eyed Peas, the Foo Fighters and Mariza from Portugal, all of whom I found quite inspiring. Since the price of the Hard-Fi album had been reduced, I was able to go out and buy it. I was preparing to settle for my patient strategy of waiting for the price to come down in three to five years’ time (well, I waited 20 years to afford much of the punk, gothic, synth and hard rock music I love!). People are so desperate to be noticed nowadays. Yobs perform their dirty deeds for CCTV (is anyone watching?) and 'happy slappers' have found a criminal use for camera phones. CCTV is the ultimate Reality TV for these misguided thugs. This is not the message of the title track on Hard-Fi’s debut album, however. The tongue-in-cheek message is that those who are watching us must be watching over us, that the individual counts because someone has taken the care to observe us all. Looking good for the cameras might alleviate some of the alienation young people feel.

If you can’t beat them, join them. The untouchables are playing their game and innocent people who are obliged to accept being watched can but play their own, express themselves without caring who is watching or what information is being shared about us or what measures the System is taking to control us. Our own individuality is our only hope. Only a government that looks upon society as a mass to be controlled would not have our interests at heart. CCTV either increases or diminishes our freedom or both. How can you tell if the camera loves you? It is so detached, mechanical and characterless. Who is listening and watching through the telescreens? Are we giving away our power and rights to them in the name of law and order? Could they fall into the wrong hands?

"And every move that I make
Gets recorded onto tape
So somebody up there
Can keep me safe
We’re the stars of CCTV
Making movies out on the street
Flashing blue lights, camera, action
Watching my life, the main attraction
We’re the stars of CCTV
Can’t you see the camera loves me?"

(From the song ‘Stars of CCTV’ by Hard-Fi, from the album Stars of CCTV, 2005)

RE Hard-Fi CCTV album

“And what I think is actually happening here, the culture’s getting weirder and weirder. Back home in Britain, Tony Blair is putting up cameras on every street corner and he’s talking about putting cameras in people’s homes. He’s got rid of trial-by-jury. I mean, this is like fascist Britain 1999, you know? But the more he does this, the weirder things get, the more cameras you put up, the more people will start to act like movie stars. The more people start to act like move stars the weirder things get. And then the more cameras they put up to deal with it and the weirder it gets! So let them - bring the camera and I’ll act the shit out of these bastards. Let’s have the camera, cameras everywhere, and we’ll show them what we can do. And they’ll be watching it, going ‘Man, that guy’s getting fucked! I wish I was!’
            And they want in. They want in on this. So let’s…invite them in. let’s take them in. Let’s be like the diseased prion that destroys its host in CJD [Mad Cow’s Disease]. Let’s go in and give them something they cannot digest, something they cannot process, something so toxic, so dangerous, so powerful that it will [breed?] and destroy them utterly. Not destroy them – turn them into us. That’s what we want. We want everybody to be cool. We don’t want to go out there and think, ‘That guy’s going to kill me.’ ‘That guy hates me.’ ‘That guy’s got some fucking weird agenda! Don’t we just want to talk and let it all go? And just say, ‘I’m interested in you. What have you got to tell me?’ That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? We communicate, we join up. We make networks. We make things happen. And there are some people in the world who don’t want to do that. So let us infect them. Infect them to the point where they become us, where there’s nothing left in this world but us. And then some kid’ll come up and fuck that as well. And that will be exactly what we need at the time.”
            - Grant Morrison (excerpt from a lecture in 1999).

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