I recently came across an article detailing a new trend in city planning. Recently public areas have been outfitting traditional streetlights with newer blue lights. This fad began in Glasgow, Scotland in 2000 because city planners wanted to improve their city’s appearance. Remarkably, this change in light color led to a decrease in crime in the affected areas. While this could easily be attributed to a mere coincidence; the prefecture of Nara, Japan changed the color of their lights in 2005 and saw a nine percent decrease in crime rates. Since then, other areas of Japan have followed suit seeing similar results, including in subway systems which resulted in reduced crime and the immediate end of suicide attempts in stations with blue lights.
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.
Do you remember in class how I said a friend said her old department would drag out Jeremy Bentham’s body for faculty meetings, but I couldn’t remember (ahem, believe) the details?