Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Social Behaviour Catches up with Art

This latest statement from 'Anonymous' to copyright enforcers, blogged on Boing Boing, but currently disappeared from YouTube reminded me (again) of the Ghost In The Shell TV series: "Stand Alone Complex" from 2002 in Japan; 'Anonymous' is near identical to the "Laughing Man" incident that unravels through the GITS SAC series. (and I'm not the first to blog this)

"What separates the Stand Alone Complex from normal copycat behavior is that the originator of the copied action is not even a real person, but merely a rumored figure that performed the copied action. Even without instruction or leadership a certain type of person will spring into action to imitate the rumored action and move toward the same goal even if only subconsciously. The result is an epidemic of copied behavior-with no originator. " [Wikipedia]

This prescience of the GITS anime is an example of why it's so damn good; so much deeper than the unapologetically moody, fast paced action romp of Cowboy Beebop (though admitidly not quite as stylish). Anonymous and the SAC also share much with the V for Vendetta meme (Anonymous even employ the stylised Guy Fork's mask). This is an excellent movie, and probably a brilliant 1980s comic book series too (though I've not seen that). 

Creedy: Die! Die! Why won't you die?... Why won't you die? 
V: Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.”
[V for Vendetta 2005]

This is not the same as the previous two examples because V is clearly responsible for initiating the social uprising, most importantly seizing temporary use of state controlled TV broadcasts. In the GITS universe and our current world, this prime mover is not so important: 

Web 2.0 means that any one person's message can reach a massive audience, either by attracting a traditional media frenzy, or purely online with a catchy YouTube video. And every individual with whom the idea resonates can be a secondary source (as with wave propagation in physics). Synchronicity of people's mental states, possibly (but not necessarily) all outraged by a scientology/copyright (par example) incident, primes society. Now a single 'spark' can tip the balance, starting a 'chain reaction' (like self sustaining nuclear fission); a widespread state-change in activity: a demonstration (for example) emerges near spontaneously. 

The emergent event may easily overshadow the, apparently, precipitating message in terms of notoriety, to the extent that it never happened in the 'mind of the general public'. Like a cover song is thought original by a younger generation. As J.D. Salinger's short story, "The Laughing Man" (1949) effectively overwrote it's inspiration: Victor Hugo's “The Man Who Laughs” (1869). The Stand Alone Complex series draws heavily from Salinger's short. Not just the title, but characterisations too. The quote on the identity censorship spot (cropping up frequently in SAC and pictured above) is from Salinger's “The Catcher in the Rye”:

"I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes."

Which brings me full circle: evidencing how all art (and EVERY idea of man) is predicated on previous ideas, ridiculing argument to extend copyright laws, or even their very application in the first place.

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