Alle Beiträge von Christopher Balme

Christopher Balme is director of the Centre for Global Theatre History and principal investigator of the ERC project 'Developing Theatre' at LMU Munich, Department of Theatre Studies

Hypervigilance: Stayin’ Alert and the visual tropes of the war on Corona

by Christopher Balme

Image: Boris Johnson answers questions on UK’s plan to lift lockdown. 11.5.2020. Screenshot.

We are told to “stay alert”, but if alertness could conquer this virus, we would all be fine. The anxiety many of us are experiencing is actually hypervigilance. Alertness implies we can create an antiviral force-field around us. Well, it’s cheaper than personal protective equipment, testing and all that faff. (Suzanne Moore, The Guardian, 11 May, 2020)

Few public announcements by Boris Johnson, the UK’s notoriously publicity-hungry PM, have earned such mixed if not downright dismissive reactions as his call to ‘Stay Alert’ announced on 11 May, 2020. Conceived as a liberalising measure from the restrictive ‘Stay at Home’ policy, Johnson’s appeal to his fellow citizens’ innate propensity for vigilance went down like a cold kipper on Brighton beach.

But why such a lukewarm reception, when everybody should have been relieved that they could finally get out and play a round of golf or replenish their supplies of compost at the garden centre?

Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore pointed predictably to the implicit class distinctions contained in Johnson’s examples but more importantly, and almost en passant, she grasped the culture of vigilance at stake here. Hypervigilance: Stayin’ Alert and the visual tropes of the war on Corona weiterlesen