Group 11 Surveillance Proposal

For our group’s topic, we will be talking about surveillance in new media: how it is portrayed in Pretty Little Liars (PLL) and how that portrayal represents the literal surveillance of the US Government. In the era of new media, information is something that goes hand in hand with technology. Data can now be stored easily and accessed through a variety of ways because of advances in computer technology. In his article “Surveillance in the Digital Enclosure,” Mark Andrejevic talks about how “clouds” and other forms of “always-on connectivity,” may hinder technology users in certain ways, he believes “The implication of course [of Cloud technology], is that resource ownership no longer matters” (Andrejevic 6). This not only implicates a large network of easily accessible data, but also a massive amount of data collecting, which can be very harmful to digital culture adherents. Who owns certain types of media in PLL is a major factor in who is able to gain the upper hand. The surveilling character of “A” always has the upper hand because he/she has more “dirt”, for lack of a better word, on the main characters that he/she has obtained digitally.

Andrejevic writes about this in his article, speaking about those in control of cloud networks, stating: “If proposed enclosures like Google’s Wifi network facilitate information gathering, they also enable unprecedented levels of data control”(Andrejevic 4). PLL effectively encompasses this concept throughout the series, portraying the harsh reality of data gathering and control by characterizing “A” as someone who has access to extremely secretive information and uses it as a fear tactic. This information gathering is done through a myriad of outlets (social media, computer files, documents, etc.). The character “A” represents an idea that every digital culture participant should be aware of: surveillance is something that becomes increasingly more abundant as technology and new media progress.

We will be making a remix video containing different clips from PLL that help to reveal the clandestine and oftenness of surveillance. The thesis of the video post will be focused on how underestimated surveillance can be. Surveillance is much more dangerous now, in the age of new media, because of its easy accessibility due to large networks like social media, cloud networks, and computer hacking.


This looks good,maybe add something about how surveillance in the real world has been culturally accepted as being a necessary component in our everyday life and the idea that you are always being surveillanced by someone or something. The connection that the show makes of the surveillance and culture is also that it is everyone and can’t be stopped. It also represents the idea of surveillance being anonymous, so the girls never know who’s watching them either.

The above clip recaps every episode of season 1. In season 1 the girls think Tobi is A. The following time slots show clips of him possibly being A: 5:26-5:35, 6:30-6:35 and 6:40-6:43

The ending of this video shows an example of how surveillance is used during the show through threatening text messages. The clip for that is in time slot 9:49-9:50

The above clip shows a variety of scenes where the show uses surveillance and easily compares to how it’s used in todays culture

  • 00:01-00:26 shows A (surveillance) having access to personal computer files
  • 1:00-1:07 shows A paying for a ring at a pawn shop in order to blackmail the girls and gain more leverage over them. This can symbolize the power that A (surveillance) has and that it’s all centered around money

One comment on “Group 11 Surveillance Proposal

  1. This is a great foundation, and I think approaching the show as an allegory for government surveillance is a good, focused place to start, as is considering what “A” truly represents (not an individual character or characters who terrorize the main characters, but rather a culture of control via surveillance). In terms of conveying this message clearly, you might consider ending the video by “revealing” A to be the NSA or some other form of government surveillance. The pervasiveness of the surveillance might be made clear through the show’s clips, which suggest they’re always being watched, in both real and digital space, but opening with a quote from Andrejevic (along the lines of the framing quotes you give above) and closing with a clear message that makes this parallel to government surveillance explicit, will be essential to making this work or “read.” One question you might also consider as you proceed is: Do shows like Pretty Little Liars function to get us comfortable within these modes of constant surveillance? Or are they cautionary tales? In other words, does the fact that the girls are always trying to find A obscure the fact that A is pervasive/all around them/isn’t contained to a single person?

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