Live Voyeurism : from guilty fascination to inspiration

Posted on July 6, 2011

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We have all done it once. Looking at our neighbours behind our curtains, spying what they were doing and sharing it with friends.

Human beings have a voyeur dimension that cannot be denied. Images and stories are part of our lives, they are links uniting the community.

Today, all the available media (TV, radio, web, social media…) turn this occasional voyeurism into live voyeurism. Sharing information is accelerated : whatever the distance, the person or the event…no more curtain, you can enjoy it bluntly but there are also more consequences for the lives of the people who are exposed. It is fascinating and that is not easy to turn the TV off, we love headlines and scoops. Let’s take the DSK case. I am not discussing if he is guilty or not. Fact is, we have been bombed with tons of images and information without any prior analysis, until we feel disgusted. Is that man culprit ? We do not know but the images with the handcuffs will stay in our minds. I think it brings an interrogation on what can be shown (Ben Laden death is another example) and the kind of distance that should be put before broadcasting everything live. Freedom is important but respect of the individual privacy as well. I am not saying that finding the right balance is easy but questioning ourselves is necessary.

Live voyeurism was responsible for the success of reality shows on TV or people magazines. Now Twitter and/or Instagram make it even easier. We are all those eyes looking at our neighbours (people broadcasted on TV or web) because, even if it is a guilty pleasure, we love stories and sharing them. This sociocultural trend even inspires advertising (see HBO advertising from 2008) and events (Target launch in New York) that stage daily voyeurism to promote brands.

I am watching you watching me.


More on this :
About DSK case, excellent article from Huffington Post : here
HBO Voyeur Project : here
Instagram success (in French) : here

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