No, unfortunately I am not referring to Marvel's X-Men character "Nightcrawler", I am actually referring to the 2014 thriller movie “Nightcrawler”. For those of you who haven’t seen the film, it is about a man named Louis Bloom who discovers a new possibility for work within the world of L.A. crime journalism as a freelance camera operator. The job involves camera men/crews filming crashes, fires, murders and other crimes around the L.A. area, to then sell their recordings off to TV News agencies to be used in the News broadcasts. The job referred to as a “Springer” or “Nightcrawer” in the film, seems to be very dangerous, demanding and competitive. In the film, Lou is scavenging and resorting to crime to survive, and once he begins his new job nightcrawling he is seen going to extreme lengths to capture the shots he needs; To stay ahead of the competition, he resorts to misleading individuals, tampering of crime scenes, handling of dead bodies, and even creating murders and crimes himself.
Whilst watching the film I noticed that it touches and draws upon a few points in relation to privacy and surveillance, and how things can be manipulated easily by the media and individuals for their own purposes and gains. Throughout the film, Luo is breaching people’s privacy to gain “the money shot”, in multiple scenes he decides to shove his camera in people’s faces and break in and trespass onto private property as he tries to interview and film certain situations. These moments can be directly compared to privacy issues in real life.
For instance, “With the growing presence and use of digital cameras and smartphones in public places, paired with the uploading and sharing of these images in different web sites; it is changing people’s perceptions and expectations about public places, behaviours, and practices. (Lasén & Gómez-Cruz 2009, pp 206)” This is especially evident within popular online videos shared to sites such as Youtube and Facebook, where people are being harassed or ‘pranked’ (as the video description outlines). Most of these situations, the ones creating these popular videos don’t seek or show any proof that they have the consent of the people they have filmed. Which to many, including the law, is a breach of privacy. But on the other hand, people may argue that because it is in a public space you should expect everything to be public, including any images or video taken of you. To put this in perspective, would you be okay with someone approaching you in public to then harass you to provoke a response? Probably not. Furthermore, would you like them posting video footage of that interaction? And if they asked for your consent would you give it to them?
Another real issue that I noticed within the film, is how Luo and the news agency edited video footage of crime scenes to withhold and skew information shown to their audience, as to draw them in for further updates and so that they can gain more television views. This provoked me to think that yes, this can very possibly happen within today’s media coverage. In fact, I can recall news agencies online and even on local television being outed for withholding or, even more common, skewing information to draw in a wider audience. This should cause us to question if news and media agencies are following ethical and moral principles when publicising news medias. (Novaria, 2014, pp 301)
Please listen to my podcast below for further discussion.
- Lasén, A, & Gómez-Cruz, E 2009, 'Digital Photography and Picture Sharing: Redefining the Public/Private Divide', Knowledge, Technology & Policy, 22, 3, p. 205, MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 September 2017.
- Novaria, M 2014, 'PIRACY OF ONLINE NEWS: A "MORAL RIGHTS" APPROACH TO PROTECTING A JOURNALIST S RIGHT OF ATTRIBUTION AND RIGHT OF INTEGRITY', Journal Of Art, Technology & Intellectual Property Law, 24, 2, pp. 295-338, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 6 September 2017