Approaches to surveillance in contemporary British television comedy

Clayton, Stephanie (2019) Approaches to surveillance in contemporary British television comedy. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

In 2001, the year David Lyon coined the term ‘surveillance society’, the study of surveillance was in its infancy. Visual and audio surveillance were well-established and digital and biometric surveillance were on the rise. Today, stories about digital surveillance and data-mining are often in the popular press. Despite the increased concern with digital surveillance and protecting one’s data online, visual surveillance continues to be an area of concern. Although surveillance has often be linked to reality television and even drama, it has never been examined in comedy programmes. This thesis argues that like other popular genres, comedy programmes reveal cultural attitudes about visual surveillance. This thesis examines four British comedy programmes, Scot Squad, People Just Do Nothing, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Miranda that, through their use of various surveillance aesthetics and themes, work through issues in living in a surveillance society. Examining the interplay between comedy and surveillance through textual analysis reveals that rather than just accepting the surveillance society and the visual surveillance that is a part of that, comedy allows for a space for resistance. Through parody, Scot Squad and People Just Do Nothing offer an imitation of non-fiction formats such as the reality crime genre and the docusoap that highlight the problems and limits of surveillance whilst also normalising surveillance procedures. Mrs Brown’s Boys and Miranda also work through issues of surveillance with their direct address, attempting to control the mechanisms of surveillance. This thesis argues that comedy provides a space for resistance to the surveillance society and, as such, adds evidence to the idea that comedy has potential as radical opposition to power.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Gillian Aldus
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2019 12:32
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2019 12:32
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72602
DOI:

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