controlling remotes

Thinking about this weeks lecture and reading I keep coming back to this idea of “remote control” and how maybe it, or they are, or at least could be, controlling us in some way. They are technological devices, as well as an intrinsic part of a some sort of fantasy life, and a tool used to maintain control– a mechanism of power, and a cultural artifact situated in the construction of meaning and therefore identity

I keep thinking about them in terms of power and how perhaps historically speaking they have changed or shaped us as citizens and consumers. Perhaps even more than they themselves have changed. They are obviously the primary interface of communication with the media and wide range of electronics we use as consumers everyday. But how can we use them to shine a light on ourselves? Objectifying them as artifacts of our culture, what do they say about us? Or what when looking back at them historically have they done to shape who we are, or how we think today? How is the “remote control” historically and culturally situated in terms of the construction of identity.

I found this image of siblings fighting over a remote control on website called parent dish parent dish , and was reminded of my childhood.


When I first think of the term “remote control” I think of fighting with my older sister over the television remote. Some of the most epic fights I ever had with my sister were centered on that object. We fought over it constantly. She was several years older and bigger than me. I adapted to this by compensating for my size by outwitting her, often hiding the remote. However, when my father was home without question it would be handed over to him. That thing represented not just power over the television and didn’t just control what was watched on the television but represented sovereignty in the household. It was a tool that was used to dominate and was used to exercise ones power over not just technology but people. Perhaps this is an overly simplified and dramatic example but it also says a lot about me, my childhood, the dynamics in my family, and the actives that went on in my household—in this way its not hard to see how the “remote control” is situated in terms of not only power dynamics but gender and identity as well.

It also begs the question — did the remote control, control me? Did it control me!? Did it mold me? Did I change my behavior based on its presence in a given space? Did it control the space? I would say, yes. So the remote control then can be programed but it also programs its user. One might even say its very design encouraged further consumption and could therefore be seen as a means of remotely controlling and driving economical demands. I mean this is some heavy shit! He who holds the remote, has the power and that in and of itself says almost everything about the patriarchy I was raised in and how the technology and the media participated in shaping who I am and the those around me.


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