Dr Kathleen Kuehn - 'They Should Have Turned the Lights Out!': The Economics of Mediated Voyeurism in the 'Christchurch Sex Romp' Scandal
Dr Kathleen Kuehn - 'They Should Have Turned the Lights Out!': The Economics of Mediated Voyeurism in the 'Christchurch Sex Romp' ScandalDate: 31 March 2016 Time: 12.00 pm
Venue: 81 Fairlie Terrace, Room 103
In 2015, patrons at a local Christchurch pub witnessed, recorded and distributed videos and photos of two co-workers having an extramarital sexual affair in an adjacent office building. As images went viral, the wife and fiancé of the couple involved reportedly learned of their infidelity through Facebook, just like everyone else. Using the ‘Christchurch office sex romp’ as a case study, this talk examines the relationship between surveillance, scandal and social media. An analysis of global news reports about the event are read within the context of contemporary surveillance society: that is, a society in which post-panoptic, lateral monitoring make up an increasingly central part of contemporary cultural practice. This research argues that the production, circulation and ‘democratization’ of scandal (or at least the democratization of those caught in a scandal) can be understood as symptomatic of a society that is neither critical nor reflexive about the economic value that motivates surveillance at the expense of other social, cultural, or ethical concerns. This case study thus illustrates that the productive value of surveillance as entertainment -- what journalism scholar Clay Calvert calls “mediated voyeurism” – is particularly instrumental to the process of normalizing surveillance in societies of control.
Dr Kathleen M. Kuehn is a lecturer in media studies at Victoria University of Wellington whose research interests centre on the political economy of digital media, cultural production and surveillance. She has been published across a number of academic journals including The Journal of Consumer Culture, The Political Economy of Communication, Communication, Culture & Critique, International Journal of Communication, and is the author of the forthcoming book, The Post-Snowden Era: Mass Surveillance and Privacy in New Zealand (BWB Texts).