Eliana WatsonProfessor PicarelloPOLI 357January 30, 2018Project ProposalI chose to do my project on the TV show Mr. Robot, and more specifically the first season. The show is narrated by Elliot, who addresses the viewer as “friend,” one he made up to cope with his chosen loneliness. He is a paranoid, rabidly asocial computer savvy man who self-medicates on morphine. A network technician by day, Elliot is a “hacker vigilante” by night, anonymously tipping off police to online child pornography rings and gangs bragging about murders in code on Twitter. His job is at a cybersecurity company whose largest client is the massive conglomerate E Corp.—which Elliot always calls Evil Corp. Because of his connection to Evil Corp., Elliot finds himself recruited by the mysterious “Mr. Robot” to join the hacker collective society, modeled after Hackers Anonymous, which wants to take down the company and all others like it. “Sometimes I dream about saving the world, saving everyone from the invisible hand,” Elliot tells us during one monologue, over a montage of a coworker making his monthly minimum school-loan payment and waiters scrambling for tips. “The one that brands us with an employee badge. The one that forces us to work for them. The one that controls us every day without us knowing it. But I can’t stop it.” He can’t, that is, until Mr. Robot comes into his life, tempting him to take down Evil Corp., which “happens to own 70 percent of the global credit industry.” If they destroy Evil Corp’s servers, Mr. Robot promises that “every record of every credit card, loan and mortgage would be wiped clean …creating the single biggest incident of wealth redistribution in history.” It is very clear this show brings up topics we never really discuss and possible alternatives to them. Mr. Robot believes the answer to capitalistic evil is anarchy. Elliot is not sure but believes capitalism is not functional. Other characters in the show are somewhere along this spectrum. Everyone is unhappy, but no one knows how to solve it. I think this could create an interesting discussion in class. After all, everyone is affected by it, although everyone’s interaction with it is different, which does breed discussions along the lines of early Marxian concepts. While the central topic in this season is capitalism and its evils, I believe that the show is also targeting the very thing that fuels these systems: the human desire for power and control. It is easy to imagine a utopian world without money, or debt. It’s much harder to realistically imagine such a world that is less controlling and fairer than the one where money still exists. And maybe that is ultimately where the show goes. In an effort to upend an unfair, democratic, capitalist system Elliot ushers in a much less fair, much less free, authoritarian one. Wouldn’t that be a twist ripped from the headlines? The themes of revolution, control, democracy, anarchy, power, and chaos have been presented over and over since the first sentences spoken by Elliot. We hear a very compelling and charismatic speech that sucks us right in. We want to know who Elliot is, what he is doing, how, when, and why. Mr. Robot presents incomplete information and relies on the standard tendencies of our minds to complete the pictures, even though our auto-complete functions may provide something very different from what Mr. Robot is actually saying and offering us. I think at the end of Mr. Robot, we are going to have to ask ourselves some hard questions about what we should be paying attention to in order to avoid these kinds of situations in real life so that we don’t end up with a bleak reality of our own blind choosing. What is real? Do we have any control? Do we actually have a functioning democracy? And what can we do about it? If we start a revolution, or we join one, are we going to pick a leader who wants to build a healthy society where everyone has freedom and resources, or one who really just wants to be our god and be worshipped?


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