Mr Weirdo - the Story of Surveillance Society Victim

My life doesn't stop surprising me. This time, the peculiar adventure that I experienced was the effect of my husband's photography actions.

But, let's start from the beginning.

Me and T. went to ASDA. T., as always, had his camera with him, and although he presumed that no one is allowed to take pictures in there, he used his old-fashioned film camera, and took a picture of an entry, kind of 'against the sun' photo, which would probably be more artistic than technically detailed. After few seconds I turned back and I realised that I'm walking alone through the alley, so I went back and what I saw was T. speaking with weird-looking, 20-something English man, and a guy from ASDA security.
It occurred that T. was explaining himself to the ASDA guy, and in fact they both agreed that nothing happened, as soon as T. put his camera back into his bag.

Yet, there was still the other guy which I would like to call 'mr Weirdo' (well, I don't judge this guy only because of his appearance - you should have seen him talking, observe his body language, rolling eyes etc... He surely wasn't completely 'normal'). He claimed, that T. took the picture of him, and that he cannot accept that because it violates his privacy rights. Because of that, mr Weirdo told us to give him the film, so he can be sure that the picture won't be used.

T., me and ASDA guy (who was actually on our side) were trying to convince mr Weirdo that, firstly - T. did not take the picture of him, secondly - he can believe, that the picture will not be used, if - by any chance - he had been caught in the frame (which me and T. knew - was impossible)... But the guy was stubborn. He said that we HAVE TO give him the film. So we asked him what about the pictures that had been already taken, and the rest of film that can be used. Is he going to pay for them? (How can you say how much each picture is worth if you consider them as a piece of art?) But mr Weirdo said that he would pay, BUT (here comes the best part) - he doesn't have any money, and after saying that - he opened his rucksack and was trying to give us... spaghetti! T. started to laugh and I started to be really, really angry, together with an ASDA guy and some other customers trying to squeeze between us, as we were blocking the alley ...

So, when we said that giving the film to him is impossible because it would violate our privacy (yes, we did hypocritically use his own argument), mr Weirdo announced that he wants us to give him our home address, so he can come and take the picture/film, and be sure that it won't be used...( At this moment I really had to do a lot of effort to not lose my temper...)
The guy didn't want to stop and leave us alone, and everyone (except T., who enjoyed all conversation finding it really funny) were getting more and more angry. After about half an hour, T. decided to take the film out of camera, loosing the undone frames, and was even ready to give the whole undeveloped piece to mr Weirdo! It was the moment when my anger achieved the final stage... I think that ASDA guy felt the same, so he took the roll and passed it to me. I said that that's enough, and now we're going to photo lab to develop the film, asking for destroying the last frame. And- finally!- we did it. Mr Weirdo scrapped up all change he had in his pockets and the ASDA guy signed the paper saying that we don't have to pay for developing... The film was going to be ready after an hour.

We went shopping, gone back home, and T. collected the film after 2 hours. The lady in photo lab told him that mr Weirdo (described by her as 'mental') was waiting in the lab through all this time, and he had just left about 2 minutes before T. came there... The last frame had been cut out and destroyed, so we don't know if mr Weirdo was even caught on the frame...

That's how the story ends.

But there's a lot behind it...
What a coincidence that the thing like that happens to me, while I'm writing my dissertation about CCTV and surveillance...
In my opinion, Mr Weirdo is great example of Paranoiac created by the information society, he is the victim of global surveillance. He thought that by forcing his demands on us he would somehow fight the surveillance system? Maybe...Yet, during this dull conversation, I told him few times that he is actually observed by CCTV camera now (pointing my finger on the camera above us), and that maybe he would like to demand the footage from there as well? He did not answer anything about that, paused for a while and continued his talk, actually repeating the same sentences all the time...

I can understand that he did not want his privacy to be violated. But the fact that he thought that he was the aim of T's. picture is as weird as he himself was. T. didn't even notice him... I think that probably mr Weirdo was very sensitive about himself, his appearance and the way how other people may see him, that's why he acted like that...
But it doesn't change the fact that during this argument he constantly denied himself... If he was really SO concerned about privacy rights, and violating them by eventual using of the picture, why he ignored the cameras, and didn't claim the footage where he appeared, to be destroyed? Why he wanted us to give him our address and let us agree to the fact that a strange guy is going to come to our house? Why he wanted us to give him undeveloped film, so he could develop it and become an owner of all the images that T. took before?
And – finally - why he had to latch on to us? Maybe to make himself think that he is doing something about the situation that bothers him so much? About the situation that he lives now in the information society and that he is constantly observed, and his images are being registered almost everywhere, all the time. And he cannot do anything about it, if he still wants to be a part of society...

Now, when I calmed down, I feel really sorry for mr Weirdo... I think that this situation was the kind of his desperate and nonsensical fight with the surveillance and information system.
What I know for sure – now I got some more interesting material to analyse for my dissertation. And that is the only thing I like about it.


  1. a deep analysis i must say.. but wasnt that just a really strange guy, maybe even one of those "crazy-urban-semiconscious-airdrunk-walkers" seeking some action?? nevertheless,an interesting case

  2. that's possible, that's really possible. but he was so concerned about the fact of 'his privacy rights' violated by this one possible picture of him being in our hands... i think that he really felt bad about it, but still - his behaviour wasn't normal...

  3. Lots to think about there. The moral of the story is: don't go to Asda.

  4. uhhh, but what can i do - it's the closest and the cheapest store in my area... :P

  5. I would tell him - Look I will give you the film only if asda security gives you the records from the cameras - and simply walked away.

  6. that's what i told him!!
    but... believe me. it wasn't possible to just walk away.