Sunday, February 10, 2008

Panoticism and The Truman Show

"... the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers."

The above qoute seems to be at odds with Truman's situation in "Truman Show." The surveillance/tv show is a direct exercise of power by the show's execs/producers over Truman (the only inmate). It is also serves as an indirect exercise of power in the sense that viewers can watch every single minute of Truman's life while he (initially) has no idea of the fact. In either case, there is no automatic functioning of power that is taking place. Rather, the producers and viwers of the show are, in a sesne, exerting their power to invade Truman's privacy. Also, since Truman is the only inmate here (those whom he interacts with being involved with the surveillance process), the power relation proves dependent on those who exercise it (everyone except for Truman). Were even one person to discontinue their manipulation of Truman, the Panopticon could not continue to exist because Truman would then realize that he had been a prisoner without knowing it, and simply chose to walk away.

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