How Edward Snowden Influenced Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor

The uneasiness that comes with being watched, while not exactly a new concept, dramatically shifted in 2013, when former NSA intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked critical documents that proved the existence of invasive surveillance programs in the United States. One of the more sinister discoveries was that of corporations implementing programs for the specific function of data mining. Brandon Cronenberg was watching this all go down while assembling the idea for “Possessor,” seeing it as an avenue to explore the paranoia of outside eyes looking within (via The New York Times):

“We’re all open to invisible influence in a way that previously would have sounded like conspiracy theories but now sound like open truths. The Snowden leaks happened early in script development. That was the root of a lot of the technology satire [in ‘Possessor’], but it’s become related to behavioral control.”

This makes a fascinating parallel with Colin, as we get to see what he does at the company, which specializes in data mining. He wears VR goggles that make him look like a massive fly. In the virtual workspace, Colin’s job is to leer in on people and make observations based on the kinds of products that can be seen in the peripheral view of their cameras. In “Possessor,” the invasion of privacy is business as usual. It’s the face of the company. The art of watching creates a bit of a psychic overload with Vos in the driver’s seat, confronted with someone who makes a living through their own voyeuristic gaze. You can tell Cronenberg was truly rattled by Snowden shattering the illusion of isolated individuality.

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