We live in an age in which the modern (wo)man is simultaneously prefixed on protecting her/his privacy and convinced that (s)he deserves to be a full-fledged A-list celebrity, if not a social media icon turned reality TV star turned Fox News contributor turned snuff flick casualty.
…OK, so maybe I added that last stage for effect, but my point stands: we claim to desire privacy, but do everything within our power to broadcast our identities. We celebrate Anonymous and repudiate anonymity. (A recent South Park episode titled “Let Go, Let Gov” summed this up much better than I can.) The question then becomes, “How can we reconcile this apparent polarity?”
Or, noch besser, “Do we have to at all?” Perhaps the only reason we cheer Edward Snowden and jeer the NSA is that the former has used technology to make a name for himself offline while the latter can see through the digital identities we’ve so painstakingly created for ourselves. One defends our sense of self-importance; the other stands as an affront to it.
If the government really wants to placate its citizens, maybe it should forget about reforming its data collection policies and simply make all of the video, audio, and text it gathers available to we the people appearing and/or communicating therein. Then we could recapture all the drunken freestyles, shower solos, and other debauch we thought lived on only as fractured memories, edit these recordings to fit our preferred media, and live out our dreams as rappers turned singers turned porno impersonators.
The music video for harmonically gifted rapper Open Mike Eagle’s “Password (official unprotected file)” directed, shot and edited by David Maxime, explores some of the above ideas. Watch it!