Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.
Elliot Alderson thinks they’re after him. But while in your case, your holiday photos and updates about your relationship disasters on Facebook are unlikely to attract the attention of the authorities, Elliot’s activities probably are. He can’t be sure, but then again, Elliot is on the autism spectrum, hates physical contact, social situations and is clinging to a ledge above an impenetrable abyss of morphine addiction. Elliot isn’t sure of anything.
The second series of Mr Robot has just kicked off on Amazon Prime and if you’re not watching it, it won’t be for the lack of positive reviews, watercooler chit chat and hype. Perhaps you need something more from a leading man than hollow eyes, insomnia and altruistic paedophile website interventions. Maybe you watched the first couple of episodes and found the uncompromising geek speak too much to handle.
Maybe you just prefer it if your superheroes are dressed in lycra.
But it’s worth persisting. For while Breaking Bad laid the foundation for existential dilemma and morality plays in binge box drama, Mr Robot takes the tools of personal responsibility whittled into shape by Walter White and applies them to corporate responsibility; a far bigger, bloodless foe.
A society driven by consumerism, by definition, is a society that accepts, even welcomes, corporate entities into every single area of life. The device you’re reading this on, the clothes you’re wearing, the food you eat; all decisions you have made to represent yourself in the world based on how effectively the corporations producing the goods have been in persuading you to pick them.
In 2016, awareness of the shadier sides of corporate greed is ubiquitous. Transnational corporations rely on us overlooking the information made freely available by the press, hacktivism and the freedom of information enabled by social media and most of us do, preferring the comforts of society to the uncertainty of anarchy and in it’s in this vacuum we find Elliot; by day guarding the technology systems of E(vil) Corps, by night hacking websites of nefarious repute and blackmailing their owners into ceasing and desisting.
It sounds complicated and it is. But shying away from issues that challenge us is how we end up casually consuming crap without a thought for the suffering of the people who make it for a few cents a day and while the tech speak can be incomprehensible if you’re not conversant in code, the questions facing Elliot are ones we should all be asking ourselves. Is there an alternative to the invisible hand of control exerting itself upon us every moment of our lives? What can we, as individuals, do about it? Are we obliged to?
What are we afraid of seeing if we open our eyes and, perhaps, most importantly, why are we afraid when we have all the control? The first season of Mr Robot is showing on Universal now. Revisit it. If only so you can say you know your enemy.