Disturbia, Watching You

What is the use and effect of people-watching and spying surveillance in the film "Disturbia"?

Primary Material

My primary materials for my research consist of people-watching, privacy and spying in the movie “Disturbia”. People-watching goes on every day for everyone. Sometimes we do not even realize we are participating in this form of surveillance, but even while walking through the mall or eating lunch we are either observing others or being observed. In the movie, an example of this is when Kale is first put on house-arrest and begins watching his neighbors; he is simply observing every one. He notices a neighbor his having an affair, one is mowing the lawn, and another is moving in. An effect this might have on the viewers is a realization of how tight a neighborhood can be set up and how easily observed everyone in it is, which might cause people to change the way they act so that they are viewed only the way that they wish.
Privacy is another big issue that I found relevant to my research. With the use of surveillance, many people are worried about invasion of their privacy. There are many laws and court cases involving privacy that I can use for my research. This will be great in allowing a different view towards this surveillance for those doing the watching and those being watched. An example of the question of privacy in the movie is when Mr. Turner, the killer, notices the kids following him in a store. He confronts them and tells them that he has noticed them spying on him and asks them to stop. His manor in this confrontation is some-what creepy causing the audience a sense of fear or paranoia. Because of his already scary character, the audience might fear what he might do to the teenagers spying on him. Realizing the possibility of invasion of privacy might concern the audience and so that they might alter their normal activity.
Spying is another primary material in my research. When a simple observation becomes intense and specific, it becomes an act of spying. In the movie, after his simple observation of his neighbors, Kale begins to focus his observation on one neighbor. This intense observation becomes an act of spying. There are many scenes where they set up walkie-talkies and cameras and even sneak into his house. They are able to see everything he does including his dates. This might cause the viewers a feeling of paranoia, in that they might think that someone is watching them. Or this might cause an act of mimicry in that they might begin to spy on others.
“Disturbia” has great examples of both people-watching and spying and questions of privacy. There are many forms of surveillance used in the movie like the use of walkie-talkies and video cameras and cell phones and a few others. Analyzing this movie will help give examples and explain surveillance to my audience.

So What?

The research on the effect and use of people-watching and spying surveillance in the film “Disturbia” is important to everyday situations of observing others. Many people enjoy paying attention to their surroundings and noticing the different people around; these people make up the majority of my audience. Some might find themselves participating in this form of surveillance without even noticing. The research goes into details of different ways we watch others and how people-watching effects our actions and what can be the outcome of it. The article by William Burke talks about how when we are watched we feel judged as a result of our actions, and as a result, censor ourselves. This creates what is considered “two selves.” The first is the “public” self, which is the side that is shown to the world and expressed to those you don’t know and might be watching. The other is the “private” self, which is essentially your true self, which you express when you are alone or with others you know and trust. As surveillance becomes more effective at watching everyone all the time, there will be a shift towards expression of the public self at times people once thought were private. The majority of changes that we continue to see as a result of progress in surveillance are relatively small but frequent aspects of people’s lives. Paranoia is a general trend as far as behavior is concerned, specifically in terms of how people live and exist in their homes and communities. One of the main arguments against surveillance is that it poses a threat to privacy, which is of value to the individual and to society. To many, privacy affords us the space to be ourselves and to define ourselves through giving us a degree of independence and protecting our dignity. Another argument is that some people rely on the idea of surveillance, and are able to live paranoia-free lives thanks to the knowledge that they are being looked out for. In many cases we do not want to know everything about everyone around us and so privacy can protect the rest of us from being exposed to too much information. Also people-watching is a lighter form of spying. It takes the broad watch on those around us and focuses it on a constant watch on a certain person or group of people to obtain some form of information. The movie “Disturbia” is used to help with the examples of these kinds of surveillance.

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