Voyeurgasm

Jay Leno, Jessica Simpson
Rodney King’s 1991 beating was a watershed moment in modern history. Not only was it groundbreaking because police violence was captured on video, but it also helped accelerate an Ubertrend, Voyeurgasm, which points to a future where just about everything will be captured by smartphones, action cameras or UHD camcorders.

Since then, an explosion in high-profile events have been captured on video, ranging from the elevator assault on Jay Z by Beyonce’s sister Solange to the Concorde crash, September 11, Paris Hilton’s “sex-capade,” President’s Bush’s shoe-throwing incident, and O.J. Simpson’s infamous car chase, plus countless other police-car chases, and violent teen beatings.

Voyeurgasm dates back to the beginning of mankind but the rapid evolution of manmade tools has turned it into a major societal force over the past few decades. Digital technology in particular, ranging from camcorders to smartphones equipped with video to webcams and surveillance cameras, have whipped this Ubertrend into a frenzy:

  • Early history – The painting was first to help budding voyeurs catch glimpses of others, unrobed or not. In 1839, Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerrotype, ushering in the photographic revolution that let anyone capture images on film.
  • Reality shows – Voyeurgasm’s impact on media is well-documented. In 1992, MTV debuted “Real World,” a show about seven strangers who share a home, that started the reality show trend in earnest. “Big Brother,” created in the Netherlands by Van der Mol Studios, was buoyed by the popularity of peeping-tom webcams, like JenniCam. It was quickly followed by a series of me-too shows, such as “Survivor” and “The Bachelor,” proving that people do indeed like to watch. Today, a plethora of reality shows clog the airwaves, and heeding the Voyeurgasm call, there is even a show called, Naked and Afraid.
  • HDTV/UHD – It was high-definition video technology, introduced in the 90s, that dramatically raised the quality of videos, many of which are bound to end up on mass media. Today, the market is moving to “ultra high definition” or UHD, which will rachet up the quality of voyeurgasmic videos.
  • YouTube – Perhaps no other medium has brought Voyeurgasm to the forefront more than YouTube. Launched in February 2005, YouTube has reshaped the way the world shares and consumes video. After just 10 years in existence, more than 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube, almost an hour for every person on Earth. You might call it “digital rubbernecking.”
Sony X100VAt the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, Sony launched a new action camera, the Sony X100V ($500), the company’s first action camcorder that records ultra high-definition, or UHD, video, offering four times the resolution of HDTV, 3840×2160 pixels. Once tools like these get in the hands of the YouTube generation, all prying eyes will be on us.

  • Action cameras – Following a 2002 surfing trip to Australia, Nick Woodman kickstarted another trend when he founded GoPro, which created a whole new Voyeurgasm market, action cameras. Showing how much people like recording their own actions, GoPro disclosed in its IPO financials that it earned $61 million in profits from revenues approaching $1 billion in 2013.
  • Smartphones – If the video camera revolutionized Voyeurgasm, it’s the smartphone that made it possible to capture any event and upload it to the internet instantly. A perfect example was this harrowing road rage incident (NSFW) captured in December in Sacramento, Calif., involving two girls and a woman.
  • Policing police – Another remarkable incident happened on July 19, 2014, when a bystander used a smartphone to catch a New York City police officers choking 43-year-old Eric Garner to death. That mobile phones will soon catch every police deed and misdeed was underscored by a video that caught another New York police officer knocking a Critical Mass bicyclist off his bicycle, in front of horrified bystanders. As bodycams and dashcams proliferate, police video footage is certain to surge.
  • Surveillance – Another trend propelled by Voyeurgasm is the rapid growth in surveillance cameras, which routinely capture people red-handed, like this FedEx driver flinging a delivery package, or these three girls taking a bath in a KFC sink. London now has more surveillance cameras monitoring its citizens than any other major city in the world, some 500,000, which are part of the 6 million CCTV cameras in the U.K. According to an Electronics.ca report, the video surveillance market is predicted to reach $37.5 billion in 2015.
Britney SpearsThe “pixel paparazzi” now stand at the ready for any opportunity to capture a Britney Spears “oops I did it again” moment so treasured by a celebrity obsessed culture.

  • Celebrity Worship Syndrome – Our voyeuristic obsession with celebrities led New Scientist magazine to conclude in 2003 that one-third of Americans were suffering from something it dubbed “Celebrity Worship Syndrome” (CWS).
Ku NoodleKu Noodle at Las Vegas’ new SLS hotel shows how Voyeurgasm has influenced architectural design, with a growing number of venues now featuring transparent public spaces, including kitchens, showers and even bathrooms.

  • Transparency – Another subtle change brought on by Voyeurgasm is the growing role of transparency in everything we do. From public disclosure to glass-walled bathrooms to see-through restaurant kitchen windows, society is rapidly vaulting towards a future where being able to see one’s innermost processes will become an essential objective.

Expect Voyeurgasm to completely remake society, as the YouTubes, Facebooks and Snapchats of the world conspire with billions of smartphones, action cameras and UHD camcorders, plus surveillance gear, to create a brave new media world where just about anything goes, video.

Author

Michael Tchong

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I’m a serial entrepreneur, best known for my startups MacWEEK, Atelier Systems, CyberAtlas and ICONOCAST. Since 2003, I’ve been focused on trendwatching and public speaking, earning me the “most influential trend-spotter in America” recognition by the UK’s Telegraph. I like to push the innovation envelope, which is why I’m a big proponent of better digital tools and easier-to-navigate customer experiences. I also track changes in social marketing and technology, acting as a catalyst for the advancement of both ecosystems.