Paranormal Activity 2: Poltergeists, Panoptic Propaganda and Neo-Gnostic Nudgings

Film poster

By: Peter Parker So, I got dragged by a friend to go and see the film Paranormal Activity 2, despite the fact that I never saw the first Paranormal Activity. In the long run, I don't think my missing the first one mattered all that much. Without giving away too much, the plot centers around a family whose house is being haunted. Initially they mistake the haunting for a home invasion and respond by purchasing a high-tech security system with cameras and microphones in every room, recording their activity 24 hours a day. The film purports to be real footage of real events, edited together from the security camera recordings. As I understand it, this is basically the same premiss as the original Paranormal Activity. In presenting itself  as being composed of real footage, PA2 is also similar to such pseudo-documentaries as the original Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, District 9, and the The Fourth Kind. On the one hand, this recent attempt by Hollywood to blur the line between fiction and reality, can simply be taken as a way of giving a movie a creepier atmosphere. Even viewers who enter the theater with the understanding that they are watching a fictional story, might find themselves being drawn into the film's pretense of reality. Our minds have been culturally conditioned to receive documentary style narratives as something more than a mere fantasy concocted for our entertainment. Thus, even if it is only on a semi-conscious level, the story presented by a “pseudo-doc” is often able to fly under the radar of our suspension of disbelief. The more believable a film is, the greater the emotional response from the audience or so the theory goes anyway. Of course that's just the superficial examination of the pseudo-doc's ostensible purpose. Readers might be familiar with the methods of deeper textual and pre-textual analysis applied to various Hollywood films elsewhere on this site. These readings operate under the assumption that mass cultural itself is often used as a covert tool to inculcate the public into some form of elite agenda or philosophy. If we consider both the first and the second Paranormal Activity in this light, we see a film series which normalizes the idea of the so-called panoptic state. The very nature of the pseudo-doc acclimatizes the audience to a voyeuristic mind-set (a necessary ingredient for any functioning panoptic state) but Paranormal Activity 2 goes a step beyond this. In presenting 24 hour video surveillance as the only natural recourse to a supposed home invasion, PA2, lowers the bar where our standard of personal privacy is concerned. Seriously, not one member of the family even bats an eye over the idea that they're all going to be recorded at all times from now on. Frankly, they should be more scared of that prospect than any (SPOILER WARNING) first-born son stealing, invisible demon thing. PA2 is not the only recent film psychologically preparing us for a surveillance state, the incredibly popular 2008 film The Dark Knight, has Batman (a character who is the very symbol of moral justice itself) converting all of Gotham city's cellphones into an omnipresent sonar network.

As Hollywood spits out films like, PA2 and Dark Knight, meanwhile, back in real life our rights and even our expectations for privacy are crumbling all the more. Self imposed mass surveillance has entered society Trojan Horse style through fun little toys like cellphone cameras and face book, security cameras are popping up everywhere, naked body scanners are being installed in airports, governments are controlling internet access, etc, etc. Point being, one would not need to be too deep into foil hat territory to assume Hollywood is being used to ease us into something.

Now, let’s return to the earlier point we made about PA2 and other pseudo-docs, how they blur the line between reality and fiction. Consider these films alongside another theme that has become increasingly popular in Hollywood over the last few years; that of the artificial world. This includes such films as The Matrix Trilogy, The Truman Show, Blast From the Past, The Thirteenth Floor, Inception, Dark City and the soon to be released Tron Legacy. The informed viewer might recognize the parallels that exist between these movies (some more than others) and some of the gnostic religions of late antiquity. Certain forms of gnosticism asserted that Man’s soul could escape both his physical body and the material universe and ascend above the biblical God who, allegedly, created the world as a prison to prevent humanity from achieving apotheosis. Those who subscribe to the traditional Christian reading of the bible, will see in this gnostic myth, the original lie of the serpent in the Book of Genesis. Nonetheless, this is the narrative that is being covertly sold by Hollywood, to society, on a mass scale.

What are we to make of all this? On the one hand, we have pseudo-documentaries, along with reality tv (much of which is often both scripted and selectively edited and thus is anything but reality) and pseudo-reality shows like The Office. These programs all collectively serve to blur the line between reality and fiction, which makes it far easier to sell the public a false reality.

In dialectical opposition to this, we have a host of films that present us with the notion that we have been trapped in a fake and or controlled reality by some kind of evil, godlike authority figure. These films become part of the discourse of popular opposition to the elite. The Matrix, especially, is frequently used  in this manner. For example, Alex Jones’ regular Alan Watt, has a web page is called “Cutting Through the Matrix” and people just learning about elite conspiracies are often compared to Neo Anderson when he first learns about the Matrix. Other examples abound. Taking a cue from V for Vendetta (a film based on a comic of the same name by the neo-gnostic writer Alan Moore) many anti-globalist protesters have taken to wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Though the historical Fawkes was a Catholic, Alan Moore’s masked anarchist V is essentially a gnostic saviour.

What are we to infer? Are the elite manufacturing a scenario where they win our loyalty by saving us from themselves? On the one had, they seem to want to submerge us deeper into a panoptic police state. On the other hand, they seem to be building a rebellion against this reality along gnostic lines. Perhaps, recognizing that they can’t rule us with a control grid forever, they are planning on staging a false uprising, to be lead by some kind of Neo-gnostic George Washington, who will guide us into a Brave New World of the elite’s choosing.

Oh, and just in case my rantings seem like baseless paranoia, I invite the reader to check out one of my previous articles concerning Hollywood predictive programing and the Golden Gate Bridge, available at the following link:

Then consider it in light of this recent event:

Creepy, no?

3 Comments on Paranormal Activity 2: Poltergeists, Panoptic Propaganda and Neo-Gnostic Nudgings

  1. The film is well designed for its target demographic. It has some genuinely frightening scenes and messages. There are varying degrees of awareness on the Planet. Only G-d is omniescent. Your warning about an all-encompassing Panoptic State is off the mark.

    • I think the author was saying that this trend fits into a wider trend, not that the film’s producers were necessarily trying to foist a total conspiracy. I still have not yet seen it, though.

  2. "Peter Parker" // November 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm // Reply

    Hi Adam, thanks for the comment. I agree with you that only God is omniscient. Just in case it’s unclear I wasn’t advocating Man’s quest to become omniscient. I think such a desire is both futile and blasphemous. The point I was trying to make is that numerous films, within the last several years, have, seemingly, normalized the idea of an invasive surveillance state. In suggesting that the only natural recourse to a perceived thread, is the application of a panoptic system, movies like Paranormal Activity 2, can, potentially, make the more easily manipulated members of the public, accept such a system when it is imposed from above in real life.

    I do not disagree that the film had some scary scenes, nor am I saying it was a bad movie, (I’ve seen worse but I’ve also seen better.) My point, as Jay understands above, is merely that PA2 fits into a wider trend of films that make us comfortable with the idea of privacy violations in the name of safety, a phenomenon that is becoming all the more common in real life. This is something I find scarier than any movie monster (except maybe the Fetal Twin monster in “Basket Case” or Pumpkin Head, or Leather Face or Jar Jar Binks)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: