Throughout thisessay I will be analysing the television series ‘Mr. Robot’. The series isAmerican and produced and distributed by Amazon Studios/Amazon Prime. Focusingon a central character ‘Elliot Alderson’ (Rami Malek) the show follows hisexploits in hacking and revolution, as well as his struggles with addiction andhis mental state. The showscontent will be cross-checked with similar situations in recent times, whetherthey be social or political. As well as this I shall be analysing one of theirposters to pick out key features and explain their relevance.
This will be donein order to better understand the shows meaning and possibly find an answer tothe question: Is Mr. Robotrepresentative of real life and, if so, just how similar is it to our currentaffairs? Analysis: State ofMind: To begin theseries it is established early on that the shows main character, Elliot, has arange of mental health problems. The most evident to begin is his severeanxiety and lack of social skills – he is withdrawn and lonely. Addicted, heabuses morphine in order to supress the symptoms of his issues. As hischaracter develops throughout the first and second season it is clear that hehas a serious personality disorder which heavily influences the plot andresults in a very surreal plot as the events are viewed through him.In the firstepisode he delivers a ranting monologue, stating the structure of modernsociety and its downfalls; “Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes arecounterfeit? The world itself just one big hoax.”This negativeand angry view is explained thoroughly by him and it becomes evident that theworld in which the show takes place is not dissimilar to our own.
Recent viewsand trends seen on social media show a rift between the younger and oldergenerations and a deep dissatisfaction with the current socio-economicenvironment, something ‘Mr. Robot’ mirrors. Worldwide the recognition,acceptance and treatment of such mental health issues has risen significantlyin the last two decades, however, at the same time it is now estimated that 1in 6 people in the UK live with a mental health problem that affects themdaily. Record numbers of young people are now suffering from such problems witha range of financial, social and environmental causes.When trying tofind articles and reports written on the world views of young people there islittle information to be found. A large amount of content relating to peoplebetween the ages of 18 and 24 focuses on negative stories such as drug misuseor how modern technology and social media are ruining social skills. Whilst it canbe argued that the above points about drug use and a decline in socialinteraction ring true there are certainly other issues that are far morepressing than these and it helps to paint a skewed and negative representationof them in the media.
This attitude is very much about making subjects ofpeople and pointing fingers rather than treating the issue at its cause, atheme which is thoroughly explored within the show – exploring behind thesurface and breaking down the structure to relay new foundations. Mr. Robotfinds meaning in its relatability with viewers and its accurate and detailedportrayal of struggles that may sometimes be overlooked.
GovernmentCorruption: Another themethat is prevalent in the show is the corruption taking place in the upperechelons of both the government and private business sector. ‘E Corp’, the allevil conglomerate company that serves as the enemy within the series andprovides its antagonists, is as corrupt as can be. They are the largest companyin the world and have managed to infiltrate and dominate just about everyindustry on the planet (much like the mega corporations of our modern society).Therelationship between vast amounts of money and the power this brings is heavilyfocused on, with this power and responsibility usually being abused for thepersonal gain of themselves. In a sense the actions of politicians and theirforeign policy is decided by these companies, completely reflective of thecurrent U.S. Government which allows lobbyists to make ‘donations’ toparticular people or parties who express their views. This money then becomesinfluence and leverage.
In the showsfirst season an event causes an economic crash, with the markets plummeting anda huge recession following – the average person suffers while the rich livecomfortably. This is also representative of the recession of 2008, when theeconomic market crashed after banks had been given too much freedom and wereallowed to do as the wanted with customers money.True motivesbehind the actions of presidents and politicians are also revealed withinepisodes, with most of the motives behind trade deals, business exchanges andmilitary decisions being made in the interest of greed and profit. Many warshave taken place in which false claims were made about a nation or group andthe U.S. government has interviened – taking control of the area and’liberating’ it. This is often due to opposing political ideologies or for thepurposes of obtaining precious materials such as oil Evidence forthis corruption in the real world would be recent leaks such as the ‘paradisepapers’ document, released by German newspaper ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’, whichdetailed the questionable banking details of the super-rich.
Containing thesensitive and shocking information of many well-known names, the files causedworldwide outrage and showed just how common tax evasion in these circles is.In the sameyear as these revelations it has been revealed that the number of homelesspeople in the UK has risen by 134%, a dramatic increase that is visible to allliving in an urban area and has been blamed by some on Conservative policy.’Mr. Robot’tackles such issues, elaborating on the increasing gap between those who haveand those who don’t, as well as showing the great differences in these people’slives. Wealthy people are not necessarily held accountable, however ideas offinancial desensitisation and the influence of money on the world (particularlywestern culture) are certainly explored. Including thisin the show is essential to its meaning, as it focuses on subject matter thatis normally ‘brushed under the mat’ and allows viewers to see fictional detailof certain cases they would not normally see. Since most of the informationsurrounding these real-life controversies is classified or censored from themedia, the idea of a make-believe world in which the participants are veryaware of their environment and are given full discretion is very appealing. Hacking& Surveillance Thelast focal area of discussion will focus on ‘hacking’, a heavy basis of theshow that is crucial to its premise.
This central theme is made evident throughthe advertisement and stylisation of the show as well as the contents of eachepisode.Ascan be seen in this image, the hooded figure featured wears a large face mask,similar in style to ones worn in ‘V for Vendetta'(2005), as well as thoseadorned by the world famous hacking group ‘Anonymous’. Featuring this mask (morecommonly known as the ‘Guy Fawkes’ mask) so heavily is not without meaning, asit has developed to become a symbol of anarchy and revolution – themes whichrelate heavily to the television series. Anothersmall but noticeable is the typeface used for ‘season_2.0’. Throughout all ofthe episode names and in almost every promotional graphic released by thestudios this stylisation is used. It appears similar to the way code isstructured and is a subtle reference towards the coding that features heavilyin the programme as well as the general topic of technology. It is veryclear that the ‘hacktivists’ featured in the show (‘f.
society’) their actions,and media presence are heavily based on the real group ‘Anonymous’. Thenotorious secret crew began in 2003 on a website named ‘4chan’, where userscould post anonymously with no trace. At first their work consisted mainly ofmocking certain groups and cults online; as well as hacking or taking downtheir websites. Eventually, they preyed on far larger targets and attacked thewebsites and information of institutions such as ‘MasterCard’, the ‘MPAA’ andeven worldwide governments. Among the many related topics the one explored most in’Mr. Robot’ is the members of the groups shared experience with the government.
They take extra care to remain uninvolved however due to the technologicalcapabilities of forces like the FBI and NSA they are tracked down.Though still considered by some a conspiracy theory,evidence of this is found in the case of government ‘whistle-blower’ and ex-NSAworker, Edward Snowden. In 2013, he released official documents which supportedthe idea that the government were launching a full-scale surveillanceprogramme. This invaded everyday citizens privacy and gathered information aboutthem. Outrage was caused and people began to question the honesty and intent oftheir national governments.
Snowden, now 34, fled the country after the leakand is currently living in Russia. This particularstylisation, paired with the plot content and characters traits, comes togetherto directly appeal to a particular audience. The use of simple, bold and easilyidentifiable imagery allows a viewer to quickly connect to the series and findcomfort in the similarities between them and characters. The fan-base of’Mr. Robot’ will draw meaning from the show as they will identify with elementsof it themselves. A basic premise of the show is the ongoing fight between’good and evil’, with the company even being nicknamed ‘Evil Corp’ by multiplemain characters. This simple idea can be easily applied to anybody’s life, andbecause of this the show succeeds in connecting with people and keeping thementertained.
In conclusion,all of these points come together to form one very clear picture; ‘Mr. Robot’takes a large amount of inspiration from events that have occurred in real lifeand adapts them to fit its own story. This inclusion of real life allows theproducers to create great meaning within the series, as it portrays a dystopianfuture that could easily be our own. When a product has a sense of similarityand believability it serves as a representation of its consumers. Is the world of’Mr.
Robot’ similar to the world we live in? In some waysyes, there are definite parallels which run throughout the series, withreferences and clear inspiration. Events such as the fictional ‘5/9’ attackthat takes place mimics similar occurrences and makes a plotline morebelievable.Regarding theopinions and ideas expressed by the protagonist characters, especially theirworld views, is harder to judge.This wouldalways depend on an individual’s personal beliefs, their political views andideologies of social construct.
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