America and the Culture of Surveillance

After writing my post yesterday, I got to thinking about how unremarkable the idea at the heart of Gossip Girl really is these days. Why we aren’t shocked or surprised by the concept, why we say it couldn’t happen (or even why it shouldn’t happen), or more importantly, why we don’t look away.

We live in a world where we are routinely privy to the private and intimate conversations of those around us, particularly the cyborgs roaming the grocery stores and airports with their unnerving Bluetooth earpieces. We are encouraged to join social networking websites and share detailed and organized information about ourselves, our relationships, our friends, our jobs. We build websites that promote our writing, as we must, but they reveal who we are in ways that are accessible by everyone with an internet connection 24 hours a day.

We are a paparazzi culture where knowing a celebrity’s underwear size and preference seems like data we can justify pursuing. We know the sex lives of our presidents now. We can’t always prove it, but we’re pretty sure who’s gay, who’s stealing scarves from Sak’s and exactly how Angelina wrestled Brad away from Jen. More than that, we know what Angelina was thinking and feeling when she did it.

Although I engage and participate in the boundaryless culture, I don’t necessarily support it. I am a private person at heart–although you read this blog, consider how much you know of my aspirations, my dreams, my fears–even my boyfriend–as opposed to what TV shows I watch and which political movements I support. Because I know you’re watching me. And listening. And don’t ever think for a moment that you’re surveilling my thoughts. I’m handing them to you, carefully selected, pre-approved.

Having an 8-Ball with You

Having an 8-ball with You

Is even more fun that going to Saint Tropez, West Hollywood, the East Village, rehab
Or being frisked by the pigs outside my SUV down on the Sunset Strip
Partly because in your short-short hair you look hotter than Paris Hilton
Partly because of my hand holding your hand in public, partly because of jet tarmac kisses
Partly because of the bracelets tinkling on your rail-thin arms, like ribbons tied to small branches
Partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and paparrazi
It is hard to believe when I’m with you there can be anything as still
as solemn as my mother’s stern face, pale and hardened with Botox like city statuary
in the warm Malibu 4 o’clock we are stumbling back and forth
across the sidewalk, high on each other and pills, or booze, or having just kissed

and the beachscape beside us smiles with crashing waves and barking dogs fetching sticks
you suddenly wonder where you left your housekeys, your underpants

I look
At you and I would rather score another line of blow than chase sticks on a beach
Except the ones you throw for me, which are actually blown kisses not sticks, and I’ll catch them
Or we’ll sneak into the movies on Vine and make fun of Katie Holmes or Kate Bosworth
Like how grody her hair looked in Superman Returns because she can’t pull off brunette
The way we can, you tell me I can be any haircolor and it’s true, you say that it wows you
And what good does all the canned film in the world do if we can’t be together like this
When their lighting is all wrong because you are the light, the stars, the sunshine, the blue gels
Faking their way through nighttime in our love scene

It seems everyone else is cheated out of some marvelous experience
By not getting wasted like me which is why I’m handing you my mirror and loving you