When intimate images of an Adelaide Crows footballer were broadcast into lounge rooms and pubs across the country, many footy fans and general punters had a good chuckle and some jumped on social media to share the laughter around. Many also questioned whether such a heavy media presence is necessary in the first place and, as Crow star Ricky Henderson recovers from his embarrassment, it is worth pondering whether surveillance is now a permanent intrusion into our lives.
Henderson’s nether regions were broadcast while he was in the team changing rooms preparing for the second half of his team’s AFL clash with the Brisbane Lions.
Television cameras filming and broadcasting from within a private environment like a football team dressing room is the first sign that traditional notions of restricted access and the line between the public domain and the inner sanctum are fast being eroded by advancing technology.
Reactions to the incident by both the football club and broadcasters also highlight how ingrained the idea of constant surveillance has become. Neither the Adelaide Football Club nor the broadcaster, Fox Footy, dared to suggest filming in the dressing room might become off limits.
The public demands ever increasing access to areas it once could not visit. The velvet rope is being torn away and social media is largely fuelling this desire for connectivity.
Log out of Facebook and Twitter, leave the iPad at home and switch mobile data off on your phone before heading on a trip outside the city and see how unusual it is to not be aware of what’s making headlines.
The 24-hour news cycle only makes people greedier and thirstier for juicy news and this is arguably detrimental to the quality of content in the mainstream media. Delayed gratification of finding out what’s going on is much rarer; no one waits for the nightly news bulletin any more.
Social media has also placed the audience in the driver’s seat of what makes headlines.
Likewise, the power of instant humiliation has never been greater. No sooner had Ricky Henderson unfortunately exposed himself across Australian television screens, that grainy stills of the saucy shot were uploaded to social media sites and turned into less than flattering internet memes.
However, heavy use of surveillance in society is generally not a new thing. Closed circuit television was installed across cities in the United Kingdom over the past few decades in a bid to clamp down on both petty crime and violent assaults.
Notably in Australia, the accused murderer of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher was caught a week after her death in late 2012, thanks in no small part to CCTV cameras operating along Brunswick’s Sydney Road.
Camera phones and other gadgets are now everywhere and almost everybody has one, or can access one with ease.
We’re not only becoming more used to filming events of our lives but more accustomed to being filmed on a constant basis ourselves, leaving us with little objection when our own privacy is breached.
The youngest generation knows not of a world where events go unrecorded.
Problems arise in cases like Ricky Henderson’s, where privacy is breached in such a way that it goes too far and yet the very breaching of privacy is entirely facilitated by our norms and expectations.
We, as a society, are no closer to deciding how much is too much and where to draw the line between public and private.