Monday, November 21, 2011

Pepper spray in a digital world - emotionalization again

A few weeks ago (October 19, 2011) I noted the way emotionalization had been informed and generated by  the internet. The new emotional intensity of social life is powerfully constructed around information. It comes to us with few filters: this is the renewed definition of proletarianization. (The images of police in New York City battering Occupy Wall Street protesters was profound because it revealed how emotion - in this case anger - can be captured in the internet era. It looks so utterly pointless).

To all intents and purposes the intensification of emotion is what has been seen again in the pepper spraying of protesters by police at University of California - Davis. Of more interest is that the New York Times reports that chief of police at UC- Davis has been placed on administrative leave. The call has also gone out for the Chancellor of UC-Davis to resign. This as the result of the pepper spraying video going "viral."

This is the media terrain that everyone will increasingly navigate. Watch any of  the Occupy Wall Street protests and what is always present? The video cameras. Almost everyone is recording everyone else. We could call this the video court of digital exposure (VCODE).

The extreme of this is that you will be tried and your execution at the hands of an angry mob will be videoed - as indeed happened to Muammar Gaddafi, the former president of Libya. I strongly suspect that officials of the International Criminal Court and the United Nations felt a little queasy at the sight of one of their number, who was on the podium only a matter of months before at the UN, being unceremoniously murdered. The question is who is next?

"The frenzy of the visual" which Linda Williams used in 1989 to described video pornography - has given way to a new frenzy. As usual, I am not optimistic - but it is nice to see those cops getting some early vacation time.

Will their emotion give way to something else? For the time being probably nothing but the intensification of emotion.