It’s sometimes quite useful to look to the past to help make sense of the present, and those predisposed to optimistic leanings might even say that to do so could help us learn how to do things differently in the future. The current state of events on Manus Island and Nauru bear at least a passing resemblance to what happened on Flinders Island almost 200 years ago.
Depending on what source you read, you’ll hear the story of Aborigines being moved to Flinders Island for their own safety following what were known as “the black wars.” The problem with this was not only the psychological effects on the population forcibly moved there, but also the fact that the conditions on the island were so poor in terms of housing, the elements, and the provision of sustainable food sources.
To read that today, in the 21st century, there are people living in amazingly stressful conditions, being, as they are, kept offshore for their own “safety” after fleeing dangerous conditions in their own home lands, is a stark reminder of the ways in which humanity has failed to evolve in a positive sense over the course of the last two centuries. Perhaps until we confront the negative legacies of our collective colonial past such stories will continue unabated. And when we consider just how much conflict and misery there currently exists around the world as a direct result of our colonial past, perhaps it’s nearing the time with which to have such a conversation.
Do any of us still watch sitcoms in the way that we used to (probably a question for the over 40s this one)? The opening to episode 6 of Mr. Robot, “m4ster-s1ave.aes,” gave us an Elliot-esque 80s/90s-sitcom dream sequence as its opener, full of canned laughter and knowing winks to the camera, in a car that for the large part has film-stock scenery whizzing by in the background. Now, there’s not necessarily anything groundbreaking about this because we’ve seen it before, but Mr. Robot yet again seems to want us to become hyper-aware of our situation in the world, where we realise the ways in which we are “let in on the joke” of TV shows, etc., even though the real joke should be that we’re all sitting and staring goggle-eyed at a screen for however many hours a day (think Cable Guy finale).
And that’s the troubling thing about Mr. Robot. For all that it wants us to be in on the joke, and yes, it must be stressed that Mr. Robot isn’t actually a sitcom, we’re still expected to knuckle down, stare unblinkingly at the screen, and soak up all the tension from scenes such as Angela’s attempts to hack the FBI at Darlene’s request. At what point do we as the viewing public turn round and refuse to be entertained in this way – and is that what episode 6 is pointing towards?
You get the feeling, at times, that the world’s focus is not always where it should be. There’s the endless fascination with money, which at best is a poorly thought out abstract concept (and for that you only need to look at current efforts around quantitative easing, where hundreds of billions of £$€, etc., are printed on a whim). Then there’s the current fascination with planning the colonisation of two barren rocks (Earth’s Moon and Mars) when this planet remains a far more pleasant place to live. And finally, for this post, there’s the Svalbard seed bank, where all manner of plant seed is being stored for our “future benefit.”
Much work has been done to provide a sterile, dry, nuclear-proof home for the seeds, and you can imagine that a whole heap of money has been spent to ensure such perfection. The following article written by Global Research paints a very dim view of a project that is widely known as the “Doomsday” project. Whether or not the article is researched as well as it appears to be is hard to say, but the fact that the human race continues to spend its time and resources on such projects is quite staggering if you actually stop and allow yourself to think about the ramifications that may follow.
Having been thinking about the Doomsday seed bank for a number of years now, it’s troubling to think of the reasons why such a project would come into effect in the first place. You start to think that humankind may just be one of the stupidest animals ever to exist in the universe. I suppose time will tell.
Episode four of Mr. Robot, Season Two, provides a piece of symbolism that may or may not be pointing towards one of the greatest unexplained, and largely unreported, events of the 21st Century. It is hard to say whether it is, or whether it isn’t, because the show is quite confusing with respect to the messages it sends out (see most of the previous Mr. Robot posts for an expansion of this thought).
The show probably gets away with this very piece of symbolism because it takes place during a dream sequence, and so, the weird, dreamy kind of stuff taking place perhaps softens the effect. But still. To have a high-rise building suddenly collapse in free-fall, in New York of all places, seems kind of bizarre, and it must have crossed the producers’ minds that adding such a scene references the collapse of World Trade Center 7.
WTC7 is rarely mentioned. So much so, that there is even a campaign to raise awareness of its collapse. Now, whether you’re into “conspiracy” theories or not is beside the point. A skyscraper collapses at around 49:40 of episode four. It suffers no damage. It just collapses in free-fall. When you see it you think: demolition. Given that it is widely recognised that buildings do not just collapse in such a manner, and that WTC7 is believed to be the only building to have ever done so, in New York on 11th September 2001, are the producers directly referencing this event, or is it just a coincidence?
Girl sitting in front of television
There is probably a whole range of possibilities here. But here are two that I grapple with on an almost daily basis.
- Mr. Robot is a vehicle for expressing subversive thought, and it speaks to those who long for an alternative to the present capitalist system of Western industrialised nations. Referencing WTC7 in this way is a reminder to not believe the mass media, and to recognise the ways in which it manipulates current events to fit with the propaganda of the dominant ideology (or something like that).
- Mr. Robot wants its viewers to believe the above statement. Because most viewers stream the show as and when they choose, there is a record of those viewers (those who are meant to lean towards the sentiments of statement A). Here, there is the potential for a Minority Report kind of tactic – recognise those with conspiracist/anarchist/revolutionist/whatever leanings, and monitor them (or worse).
Or it could just be a TV show, and there’s nothing more to say than that.