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30, 2018

Project Proposal

I chose to do my project on the TV
show Mr. Robot, and more specifically
the first season. The show is narrated by Elliot, who addresses the viewers as
“friend,” one he made up to cope with his mental illnesses, although
this is only aggravated by his heavy morphine usage. He is a network technician
at a cybersecurity company whose largest client is the massive conglomerate E
Corp—which Elliot always calls Evil Corp. However, by night, he is a hacker
vigilante. Half of the time that he hacks, it is just to understand people. Due
to his mental illnesses and paranoia, he feels massively alienated by the rest
of society, so he hacks people to understand more about them beyond what social
media and small talk offer. The other half of the time, he hacks purposely,
tipping off police to gangs bragging about mass murders and child
pornographers. Because of his connection to Evil Corp, Elliot finds himself
reeled into an elaborate scheme to get him to join a hacker society, modeled
after Hackers Anonymous, which wants to take down Evil Corp and other
conglomerates like it.  

 “Sometimes I dream about saving the
world, saving everyone from the invisible hand,” Elliot tells us during
one monologue. “The one that brands us with an employee badge. The one
that forces us to work for them. The one that controls us every day without us
knowing it. But I can’t stop it.” He cannot until “Mr. Robot”, the
character that recruited him into this hacker society, comes into his life and
tempts him to take down Evil Corp, which “happens to own 70 percent of the
global credit industry.” If they destroy Evil Corp’s servers, Mr. Robot
promises that “every record of every credit card, loan and mortgage would
be wiped clean …creating the single biggest incident of wealth redistribution
in history.” It is very clear this show brings up topics we never really
discuss and possible alternatives to them. Mr. Robot believes the answer to
capitalistic evil is anarchy. Elliot is not sure but believes capitalism is not
functional. Other characters in the show are somewhere along this spectrum.

Everyone is unhappy, but no one knows how to solve it. I think this could
create an interesting discussion in class. After all, everyone is affected by
it, although everyone’s interaction with it is different, which does breed
discussions along the lines of early Marxian concepts.

While the central topic in this
season is capitalism and its evils, I believe that the show is also targeting
the very thing that fuels these systems: the human desire for power and
control. The themes of revolution, control, power, and chaos have been
presented over and over. Mr. Robot
presents incomplete information and relies on the standard tendencies of our
minds to complete the pictures. I think at the end of Mr. Robot, we are going to have to ask ourselves some hard
questions about what we should be paying attention to in order to avoid these
kinds of situations in real life so that we don’t end up with a bleak reality
of our own blind choosing. What is real? Do we have any control? Do we actually
have a functioning democracy? And what can we do about it? If we start a
revolution, or we join one, are we going to pick a leader who wants to build a
healthy society where everyone has freedom and resources, or one who really
just wants to be our god and be worshipped? Can a revolution ever be fully
ethical? Should a revolution be based on ethics or change? Can the two coexist
when complete uprootings of the current system are being called for?