Mr Robot: Hacking the Apocalypse
The American television series Mr Robot gives form to many contemporary concerns about the potential of technology to generate an apocalyptic event that can transform the world. As a successful, award-winning series, it connects with a number of anxieties produced by a profoundly destabilized global financial and personal economy that is subjected to invasive tracking and threatening data leaks effecting a generalized state of paranoia and fear of societal breakdown. Mr. Robot is the story of a digital security engineer named Elliot Alderson recruited by the titular character to join a shadowy network of activists called #FSociety. This group is bent on destroying the underpinnings of capitalism by hacking the largest multinational bank in existence and erasing its records. However, Eliot as an unreliable narrator struggles with schizophrenia, social phobia and drug addiction. At one point in a recovery programme meeting he rages against God for the injustices in the world, “I don’t believe my own imaginary friend, why…should I believe yours?” The paper will examine how the drama stages its engagement with these motivations, agitations, philosophical and theological problems and argues that this series, dense in reference and meaning, oscillates between appearance and truth in a frenzied search for ultimate meaning.
Postfeminism at the End of the World: Authenticity and Identity in Doctor Who
Apocalypses and monsters abound within Doctor Who, and far from being simple nightmares designed to invoke tension and terror this paper contends they explicitly engage with, and ‘monsterise’, contemporary, societal anxieties. Broadly speaking, Doctor Who uses a backdrop of the end of the world to offer present day morality tales, contrasting villains and heroes in order to forward authentic and desirable forms of humanity. This paper contends that Doctor Who uses the character of Lady Cassandra to personify and ‘monsterise’ a specifically postfeminist conceptualisation of the relationship between beauty, body and self with this preoccupation being one that is promoted through makeover reality television. Read as a metaphor for postfeminist values, Doctor Who presents a warning of the societal obsession with, and acceptance of, consumerism, neoliberalism, and pursuit of bodily perfection. Using the duel images of the inevitable implosion of the Earth, and the horrifying prospect of a postfeminist future, Doctor Who constructs a vision of authentic humanity in the form of ‘ordinary, working class’ femininity.