Rear Window in the age of oversharing

‘Rear Window’. The master of suspense in perfect control of his craft, focusing the lens on a subject that has been taken to the extreme today, and will only go further; voyeurism.

“We’ve become a race of Peeping Toms” – Readers Digest, April 1939.

Watching people when they feel they’re safe, alone, in the comforts of their home, where they can be themselves. It’s a perverted concept. It’s also a darn intriguing one. “Mind your own business” doesn’t really work too well against the curiosity of human nature, especially when the concept has essentially been flipped on its head in today’s world of oversharing every little aspect of your life. Imagine someone looking at a Facebook feed for hours on end every day. Oh, wait…

One scene later in the film when Ms. Lonely Heart enters her apartment with a new man, and Stewart and Kelly look on cheerfully, happy for the company she’s received after her nights alone. She draws the blinds, a thought that occurred to her *just* in case someone might see the naughty direction the night was going on. They keep watching, and their happiness is shattered when the young man turns aggressive and is kicked out, leading to an even sadder Ms. LH. They take a moment to ponder what right they have to peer into the private moments of people, and are even considering laying off the case until we [oh yes, we’re all part of it] hear that blood-curdling scream, sucked back in.

Compare all this to the external, public perception Grace Kelly’s Lisa puts forward to win over Jeffries, all the way to what becomes an extremely sad end in my eyes; Lisa pretending to read a book on foreign travel, believing that Jeffries is awake, and switching over to Bazaar when she sees him dosing off. My mind went instantly to the public face everyone puts on every day, for increasing minutes, to appease the social networks that consume us.

All this and I haven’t even talked about the utter charm of Jimmy Stewart, beauty of Grace Kelly, and mentioned once again the pace and direction of Hitchcock. We’re all instantly part of the lives of everyone in that apartment facing the rear window, as the camera swoops and pans, giving us a snapshot across the day.

I enjoyed the little stories I was seeing, grew suspicious as Jeffries did, and had my hand covering my mouth, reeling back in my chair, cursing Jeffries for putting Lisa, Stella and ultimately himself in that situation.

Lucky we don’t need to look outside a window when we’re bored now. We have a million to look into from what you’re reading this on.


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