Person Of Interest and the Paranoia of the Digital Age
December 3, 2011 - 12:00 am
On the show, scenes are inter-cut with bumper footage that appears to be from security cameras throughout the city. Clearly these shots are meant to represent the fictional software put in place to help the government ferret out terrorists, and Finch and Reese use these same cameras to prevent violent crimes.
Each episode opens with Finch contacting Reese to discuss a name that has emerged from the software program. They use the same methods that Finch developed for the government to investigate and prevent the crime before it’s too late. It’s easy to see from the resources the two men have at their disposal how people could fear a spying, prying government.
Another completely timely aspect of Person Of Interest is the use of up-to-the-minute technology. Though it would be misguided to suggest that the series is lacking in heart due to its reliance on technology, that very technology gives the program its unique angle. It goes without saying that Finch, as designer of the software that sets the show in motion, would have the latest and greatest equipment at his disposal. He employs technology like a second instinct, allowing him to be in the right place at the right time.
Reese uses Finch’s handiwork to listen in on phone calls, intercept text messages, and take impossibly clear cell phone photos of those he follows. The team relies on satellite tracking and the network of hidden cameras to discover when and where a crime is going to take place. Technology is more than just a neat plot device on Person Of Interest — it’s almost a character all its own.
OK, so we may look back in a decade or two and regard Person Of Interest as quaint and dated. But the truth is that the show is indicative of life in the second decade of the 21st century in its own way. Person Of Interest stands at the confluence of two totally modern phenomena: technology at the front and center of nearly everyone’s lives and the fear of being watched — whether by the government or well-meaning, mysterious figures who act for justice. This is a series that seems tailor made for 2011, and perhaps that’s why it’s so fascinating to watch.