Monday, April 17, 2006

The Happiest Panopticon On Earth

A British amusement park is demonstrating the admirable flexibility of late capitalist culture, by turning authoritarian surveillance into a marketing opportunity.

Visitors to Alton Towers could soon be tagged and tracked by cameras in a new system to video their entire day that could also tighten security. The Staffordshire theme park will offer entrants wrist bands containing tiny Radio Frequency Identification chips.

Guests would be watched as they use the park and will be filmed on rides, which the creators say would also cut crime. At the end of the day they would then be given the option to buy the footage in a personalised DVD.
This is an altogether wonderful idea: Increasing surveillance, while commodifying it.

Of course, the scheme isn't compulsory; the pathologically negligent, for instance, are perfectly free to endanger their children by opting out:
Liz Greenwood, from Alton Towers, said the security aspect was secondary as the wristbands would not be compulsory.

"If people don't want to take part that is their choice," she said.

"Only the people who opt into the scheme will be filmed so if a child is lost, for instance, the system will only track the child if his/her parents have opted in."

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