Friday, October 25, 2013

"Peeping Tom" (1960)

The film that single-handedly killed Michael Powell’s career seemed shocking at the time. Today it plays pretty tame. Of course, some would argue that it was films like this that got the ball rolling to where we are today. That is not something to tackle in a little blog post like this one.

What is interesting and relevant about this story for audiences today is what—at the time in 1960—was an unthinkable aspect of the horror behind the murderous character Mark Lewis. His father had filmed nearly every aspect of his childhood. The horror! That thing that drove little Mark to mental illness and murder is something that is increasingly commonplace in today’s world. But rather than say, “Oh, we know something like that is harmless,” we ought to consider Powell was onto something.

Is the way that we document and publish our children’s daily lives in photos and videos to a (likely, largely imagined) world-wide audience warping the next generation? Some today fear the breach of privacy, but it is unlikely there is a large danger for most in a “public” life on the web. There just aren’t enough people interested in our little lives. However, the worldview we are giving our children is something we need to consider.

Do we want our kids to think that they are the center of their own universe; that they are the stars of their own little reality show? Are we robbing them of a normalcy—a healthy understanding of their own place in the world—customary human interaction? Does such a thing even exist anymore?

In 1960 it was considered bizarre that a man would interact with the world exclusively through a camera lens. In the 2010s we have arrived in a bizarre-world where those of us not filtering the world through an electronic screen are the odd-balls.

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