Erasing David, directed by David Bond

Erasing David, directed by David Bond

This enterprising demonstration of biopolitical domination is too blinkered to transcend liberal agendas.

Eraserhead, Not. Television review – Tom Jennings
If you thought individual privacy and liberty (such as they are) were a little safer with the New Labour control freaks relegated to opposition – think again! OK, the ID card is on the back-burner but – irrespective of citizen-friendly rhetoric – the Tories are just as keen on exploiting the national databases that ill-fated scheme depended on. So a new documentary testing the surveillance panopticon of the information superhighway tracking down innocent folk who’d rather not be found seemed like a neat idea to David Bond – especially after receiving a letter informing him that his daughter’s personal details had gone AWOL, along with those of millions more, courtesy of civil servant carelessness. So Erasing David, shown on May 3rd on Channel 4’s ‘True Stories’ strand, rehearses the paranoid’s delight of info-reality that anyone vaguely interested already knows – virtually every area of our modern life involves vast domains of information gathered. If that wasn’t ominous enough, much of it is speculative, distorted or downright false – which when treated as gospel or interpreted creatively, malevolently or stupidly may have dire consequences, as we’re shown in various sketched examples ... So far, so routine; if worth reiterating.
A potentially more innovative thrust couples perspectives of hunter and quarry, following the (not very) intrepid filmmaker striving for a month to stay off the radar of the private investigators from a small operation he hired to nail him. They demonstrate how the panoply of corporate, credit card, internet, email, mobile and remote camera data can be effortlessly accessed by anyone wanting to finger you. Bond wriggles and squirms across Europe, affecting a growing persecution complex as his vulnerability becomes apparent. Meanwhile a heavily-pregnant wife waits at home as he eventually beats a Luddite retreat to a hermit’s haunt in the Welsh wilds. But it’s too late; they get him after a couple of weeks – helped particularly by evidence garnered from dustbins, stakeouts, fraudulent phone calls and impersonations in addition to hi-tech stuff. Ironically, all this works much more convincingly, and entertainingly, in Hollywood (e.g. The Game, Enemy of the State, Bourne, etc). Its heroes don’t wreck suspension of disbelief with the naff blunders regularly perpetuated by this Bond, leaving us neither shaken nor stirred – documentary and fiction may mix promiscuously these days, but story and characterisation always need consistency. And as the state-corporate confluence of biopolitical differentiation and control matures, with younger generations accommodating via reality TV and social networking, rather more is required to tackle it than the essentially conservative collision of ‘isn’t it awful’ against ‘it couldn’t/could happen to me’ – plaintive morals also evident in sundry privacy campaigns as well as previous shock-horror docu Taking Liberties (reviewed in Freedom, 19th January 2008).
Review first published in Freedom, Vol. 71, No. 11, June 2010.
For other reviews and essays by Tom Jennings, see:

Posted By

Tom Jennings
Jul 6 2010 09:36


Attached files