Panopticism, as defined by Michel Foucault in his book Discipline and Punish, is (as proposed by Jeremy Bentham) a circular building with an observation tower in the centre of an open space surrounded by an outer wall. The idea behind this social theory that subjects, being watched by an upper power, always have either complete freedom or none at all. How can they have both you might ask? The subjects cannot see if someone is or isn’t watching them, therefore they should always act at there best. It is almost as if they are on the bad side of a double sided mirror,
This gives a whole new view to being a subject. It isn’t being an observed person in a little Psychology experiment as much as it is never knowing who is watching you or what fate the “upper hand” may have in store for them. Being a subject, or “subjectivity” if you will, is more than just being watched. It puts you in a position that you are no longer an individual, but rather an object that is placed under specific conditions for the sole purpose of the experience. To many people, this theory could lead their lives and what they do in it for fear that the upper power.
If we look at the beliefs of Christianity, its subjects believe that God will see something that is frowned upon thus closing their chance at heaven upon becoming deceased, or even lead to certain consequences in the near future known as karma. Though it is not proven that there is a heaven or God, many hold strong to their beliefs on the subject, though they cannot see said upper hand.. Due to the belief that God is watching, his believers know that committing sin (such as adultery and wrath) is such a move that could potentially be “frowned upon.” However, they also have the choice of going to confession and asking God to forgive the sins they have committed.
When one is aware of who exactly is watching them and/or why they are being watched, one would know how in what manner to act, and when to act in such manner. With panopticism, the subject is completely unaware of who the “watcher” is, thus rendering them of all power. When the subject has no power, he is a mere “object to the game.” Without knowledge of who is watching, the subject does not know how to fight back and is left with no choice but to act in a manner to which he believes the watcher wants him to act. (Giroux & Nealon)
A classic example of subjectivity can be found in an episode of Chuck Jones’ Looney Tunes called “Duck Amuck.” In said cartoon short, Daffy Duck (a regular throughout the show) is held subject to the upper hand of the mischievous Bugs Bunny and his antics as the “illustrator” for the short. Bugs Bunny is perhaps the most well known character of the Looney Tunes crew, and can usually be found messing with Daffy Duck. In this episode in particular, Bugs Bunny has his fun by completely messing with the mind of Daffy Duck by periodically changing the setting and everything around him to a point where Daffy becomes enraged. ...