Mark Andrejevic speaks to students about ‘securitainment’

By Megan Semeraz

If you’ve ever thought about U.S. border security, you probably never associated it with entertainment and reality TV shows. That’s exactly what “securitainment” is, and it’s a concept Mark Andrejevic has spent years studying.

Andrejecvic, a professor from the University of Iowa, spoke on Thursday to a group of students and facility members in a lecture called “Security and Participatory Surveillance in Post-9/11 Era.”

Joanne Hoopes, a junior communications major was at the event because she thought it was relevant to the time we live in and she is “always interested in learning.”

The past three years Andrejecvic spent in Australia, connecting the ideas of securitainment in relation to an Australian reality TV show called “Border Security: Australia’s Front Line.”

“I’m thinking of shows that are actually supposed to help us engage in the processes of securing ourselves, our homes, our homeland but in the register of entertainment,” Andrejecvic said.

He said that after 9/11, Australia, like many other countries, had a lot of anxieties attached to their border. The thought of terrorism organized their border risks.

“The borders become a place to kind of locate the threat,” Andrejecvic said.

According to Andrejecvic, anything that is disruptive on a damaging scale can be assimilated to the threat of terrorism. Terrorism could also be in the form of undermining the economy or threatening the environment.

The connection terrorism has to entertainment begins with the fact that our technology has changed.  Andrejecvic said that the war on terror became the first internet war, where the reader can get news instantly.

“The public no longer has to rely on the judgment of editors and doesn’t have to wait until the end of the workday for the latest news,” Andrejecvic said.

He said that the war became unconventional in the way that it is not all military  and it has to be at some level “fought or participated in by everybody who is going to take some type of a role in securing the homeland.”

The concept of being a soldier in your own home has become a form entertainment. We can see this through shows such as “Border Security: Australia’s Front Line,” or even shows such as MTV’s “Exposed” or “Room Raiders.”

“The idea was that you can’t trust anybody, but there are technologies that allow you to manage the risk that come with the potential forms of deception,” Andrejecvic said.

Websites such as www.blueservo.net have also allowed for people across the globe to become  a “virtual deputy.”

“Anybody can go and sign up to become a virtual deputy, you could go to this site, log in and once you’re a virtual deputy, you would then be given instructions on how to stake out the border … the cool thing about this is that anybody could do it,” Andrejecvic said.

Andrejecvic ended his presentation by telling his audience to “think about this notion of securitainment and see if it’s a useful one.”