The existence of a camera in every household, via smart phones and i-”whatevers” definitely increases the presence of security violations both private, and communal. 13 Cameras reignites the fear of most women regarding the prevalence of video surveillance, and the minds behind their operation. This film doesn’t just highlight and romanticise the phenomenon of voyeurism as a pursuit of the most unlikely people, but it also furthers the antiquated idea that women are more “spy-worthy” than men.
13 Cameras is a rough-shod thriller in virtual perspective that focuses on the fetish-driven mind of building superintendent Gerald (Neville Archambault), and his interaction with tenants Ryan (PJ McCabe), and Claire (Brianne Moncrief). Gerald has set-up hidden cameras in the property that Ryan and Claire have decided to make their home. From this arrangement it’s easy to infer how a superintendent with certain ulterior motives could create the core of a situational thriller. What this film lacks, however, is a clear insight into the video voyeur’s desire. Is it purely the thrill of peering into other people’s lives, or is it gender specific? In short, does Gerald seek an opportunity to view Claire in her most private moments, or is the act of viewing alone the goal?
This film poses a situation where female voyeurism is put under a social microscope. How is it that Claire is automatically the subject of Gerald’s voyeuristic desire instead of the couple’s interaction? There is no argument that men and women spend equal time using modern media tools to parade their bodies to perfect strangers. Both men and women have set themselves up to be targets of people who would use video equipment to peer into the private lives of individuals. Why is it then, women are still the overwhelmingly most popular subjects in any video voyeur’s plans?
The answer could be as simple as the thought that women spend more time in the bathroom than men. Though near-sighted, this could explain why video voyeurs set-up cameras in home bathrooms instead of other areas. Women are traditionally thought-of as being more helpless in situations where they are alone. What better place to install a camera than a private bathroom to catch a woman in her most vulnerable moment? This precludes a video voyeur’s predisposition toward capturing images of women only.
There are equal opportunities in 13 Cameras for Gerald the superintendent to fulfil his fantasies that include female and male moments. Ryan, the husband, is caught on secret film as many times as Claire, but the movie makers choose to shift focus whenever male-centered voyeurism begins to arise. During the movie, Ryan has an affair with a beautiful mistress, but it elicits far less camera time than Claire’s private moments.
Had Ryan been kindling a same-sex affair, or one that involved several other females, it’s likely the focus of Gerald’s video antics would have shifted from the singular lonely female to the taboo acts in other spaces. 13 Cameras is highly dependent upon the traditional notion that the lonely female subject is the most available source of fodder for any forbidden on-screen material. The rage in Gerald’s character that is revealed in the last sequences of the film illustrates a deranged mind that is obviously searching for stimulus regardless of the gender source. It is the film maker’s choice to continue the outdated narrative that beautiful women spending time in a bathroom are more of a target for voyeurs than anyone else.
Modern women are smart enough to understand that the same technology they use to socialize on a daily basis, has the potential to invade their lives. 13 Cameras shines a light on the worst that can happen when a women doesn’t take the time to know her environment. Check nooks and crannies for cameras when moving into a new place. Arm your security system and make sure it’s encrypted (try here for advice) to prevent personal details from being leaked. Act on instincts that say a new landlord looks creepy and behaves erratically. Make sure there are only two keys to a new place—one for her, and one for him only. Secret voyeurism is real, but no strong woman ever has to be the victim!