Wednesday, August 7, 2013
1974 PSA Warned of Coming Surveillance State to Control Behavior HD
"A tormenting thought: as of a certain point, history was no longer real. Without noticing it, all mankind suddenly left reality." -Elias Canetti, Nobel Laureate in literature
The clip is of a public service message warning the public on the growing use of technology and surveillance by government and corporations (though who can really tell the difference these days) to control our lives.
Sure, you say. We know all about that. Snowden has conclusively shown us with leaked documentation that our government is reading our emails and snooping on our phone calls.
Ah. But the film was not made last week or even last decade; it was filmed in 1974.
Watch and listen. No, really listen. This message isn't just to warn us about the coming technological surveillance state itself, but how its construct is to be used as a form of behavioral control on a mass scale.
Godfrey Reggio is best known for his artistic masterpiece Koyaanisqatsi, and its two follow-ups, films which show us the role of technology in modern society through the powerful sequence of images it conveys rather than with dialogue. Eerie and amazing time-lapse photography reveals the rhythms and mechanics of society, even as it is juxtaposed against the natural world and primitive cultures, as in the sequel Powaqqatsi.
Earlier in his career, Regio helped create the Institute for Regional Education in 1974 which created a series of public service messages that were perhaps even more foretelling of the system taking hold, if only for its spelling it out in words we now recognize as, controversially, the real society we are living in every day.
A literal "talking head" placed inside a television explains: "Few if any of us can understand. Extensive information gathering on every American; human experiments with drugs and psycho-surgery; electronic surveillance; the era of the computer; invasion of privacy; growing government and corporate power over our lives. A people plagued by dehumanization, loneliness and violence."
Godfrey Reggio was not simply warning about the coming era of public surveillance and the end of privacy — albeit in precise terms — but he was specifically criticizing, in dire terms, the dangerous embrace of technology as a way of life.
Allowance for the use of short news clips used reasonably falls under the "fair use" doctrine. Under Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, and research.