Santa Claus a Form of Panoptical Surveillance

In light of the Christmas season, I have been listening to Christmas songs, but I was particularly disturbed this year when the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” came on. This song has become a cornerstone of the Christmas season, performed by artists such as Justin Bieber, The Jackson 5, Mariah Carey and even Bruce Springsteen. When I really listened to the lyrics, I began to think how the song operates as a form of panoptical surveillance for children.

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Fondle Yourself in Public

I found this tag on a pole in a public park in Portland, and found it to be hilarious and taboo. The idea of fondling oneself in public is highly stigmatized as anything having to do with the genitals is considered unclean. This tag challenges the notion of self policing as it dares the viewer to go against social norms. Foucault introduced the concept of the panopticon, which relates to the self policing aspect of society that keeps people from fondling themselves in public. The panopticon originally referred to a prison that was designed as a circular tower in which the warden was situated at the top and could view all of the inmates with a single glance, yet the inmates are unable to see if they are being watched or not, inspiring them to always behave. The concept of the panopticon has been expanded to represent schools, factories, hospitals, and asylums; emphasizing the omnipresence of power that has lead individuals within civil society to self police.

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