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  1. Cyber-noir: Cybersecurity and popular culture: Contemporary Security Policy: Vol 41, No 1
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Its overall status as a genre is often questioned, and noir is often described instead as a style, tone or mood Palmer, Palmer, R.

Cyber-noir: Cybersecurity and popular culture: Contemporary Security Policy: Vol 41, No 1

Perspectives on film noir. The Strange case of film noir. Hanson Eds. Malden , MA : Wiley-Blackwell. Other scholars divide definitional strategies for film noir into semantic approaches, which catalogue core elements, and syntactic approaches, which trace relationships between films Bould, Bould, M. Film noir: From Berlin to Sin City. London : Wallflower Press. The relationship between popular concepts of noir and the noir canon is complicated: for example, despite the close mixing of popular and classical musical styles in early noir, cool jazz is now a signifier of noir itself Ness, Ness, R.

A lotta night music: The sound of film noir. Cinema Journal , 47 2 , 52 — Overall, Naremore Naremore, J. More than night: Film noir in Its contexts. Berkeley : University of California Press. Importantly, noir has unconventional moral features. As Naremore Naremore, J. Classic French noir: Gender and the cinema of fatal desire. London : I. Consequently, unlike the television series examined by Shepherd Shepherd, L.

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The overall narrative arc is not one of restoring order, but is instead a constant chaotic, violent and unfair world. It should be noted that some scholars argue that noir amorality only occurs in context of the failed projects that are socially unacceptable Palmer, Palmer, R. Others highlight the refuges and small moments of hope in noir films, especially optimistic relationships of trust despite evidence to the contrary Hallberg, Hallberg, R.

The Maltese falcon to body of lies: Spies, noirs, and trust. Nonetheless—and crucially for my purposes—the aesthetics and moral tone of noir are intimately linked: a darkened, somber aesthetic reinforces the moral ambiguity of noir characters. I will return to this association in the following sections when analyzing cybersecurity expert practices. As indicated in the previous section, the integration of noir elements into cybersecurity, as an interaction between two discourses, calls for a post-structural analysis.

Cyber-noir: Cybersecurity and popular culture

Post-structuralism holds that discourses are fluid and historically contingent systems of signification Hansen, Hansen, L. The study of discourse in international relations: A critique of research and methods. European Journal of International Relations , 5 , — As Hansen Hansen, L. Lexington , MA : Lexington Books.


If both popular culture artefacts and political representations are texts in the broadest possible sense of the term as something with meaning , then intertextuality highlights the two-way relationship between them. Political characters, stories and tropes are recognizable in popular culture, and vice versa. The starting point for understanding noir influences in cybersecurity expert discourses is the relationship of noir to other areas of popular culture, especially science fiction.

Cybersecurity, unsurprisingly, has many science fiction elements and prominent early descriptions of cyberspace resembled or were science fiction, such as Neuromancer Barlow, Barlow, J. A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Burning chrome. Other science fiction films, especially 's War Games, were key influences on U. Noir has entwined repeatedly with science fiction in cinema, especially through adaptions of the stories of Philip K.

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Copjec Ed. New York , NY : Verso. Other notable fusions include The Matrix trilogy and Ghost in the Shell , while more recent television series such as Mr. Robot and Black Mirror continue this trend. The figure of the hacker illustrates how this intersection between science fiction and noir includes both aesthetic and moral elements.

The concept of a hacker is foundational in cybersecurity, stretching beyond lone or socially marginalized individuals with unusual skills. Hackers and the contested ontology of cyberspace. Other authors show how such perceptions incorrectly homogenize hacker communities Coleman, Coleman, G. Hacker, hoaxer, whistleblower, spy: The many faces of anonymous. London : Verso. Hacker practice: Moral genres and the cultural articulation of liberalism. Anthropological Theory , 8 , — Hacktivism and the male-only stereotype. Popular culture is a crucial aspect of this representation.

The hacker stereotype itself originates in several strands of popular culture Wall, Wall, D. Cybercrime and the culture of fear. Convergence , 21 , — I return to such images in the following section. Another relevant perspective on the joint influence of noir and science fiction on politics is offered by cultural theorist Baudrillard, whose writings reference many of the works above, and include a sustained analysis of the dystopian Crash, the novel by J.

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Ballard and film by David Cronenberg. The Gulf war did not take place.

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  • Translated by P. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Simulacra and simulation. Translated by S. Deleuze and Baudrillard: From Cyberpunk to Biopunk. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press. In Simulacra and Simulation, he explains the primacy of simulacra as follows: How to feign a violation and put it to the test? Go and simulate a theft in a large department store: how do you convince the security guards that it is a simulated theft? As far as the established order is concerned, they are always of the order of the real.

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    Baudrillard, Baudrillard, J. This paragraph neatly encapsulates the dilemma of cybersecurity experts in distinguishing between legitimate and malicious activity, faced with social structures that permit penetration testing, bug bounties, and defensive tools that are exactly identical to those used offensively. Although he claims to eschew grand narratives, a pessimistic—and deliberatively provocative—grand narrative is exactly what is offered Chen, Chen, K. The virtualization of security: Philosophies of capture and resistance in Baudrillard, Agamben and Deleuze.

    Security Dialogue , 47 , — In the next sections, I examine the influence of noir at a more concrete level, delving in turn into the visual styles and naming conventions of cybersecurity expert discourses. Enacting expertise: Ritual and risk in cybersecurity. Politics and Governance , 6 2 , doi: Analogical reasoning and cyber security.

    Security Dialogue , 44 , — Most cybersecurity experts have experience on both sides and some former hackers are experts independent of any institution , and so texts ostensibly by corporate authors, or by dedicated cybersecurity news websites and blogs, can carry the stylistic marks and authority of official texts.

    Finally, the question of technology requires a further qualification. A theory of actor-network for cyber-security. European Journal of International Security , 1 , — The affordances of these technologies shape cybersecurity expert discourses in several ways, by constraining the form and circulation of reports and by generating content of the reports themselves. My focus on cybersecurity images in this section follows what Bleiker Bleiker, R.

    The aesthetic turn in International political theory. Millennium , 30 , — Although the aesthetic turn includes many of the popular culture analyses referenced so far, some scholars in critical security studies focused more narrowly on the role of images in international politics, rather than the visual world generally e. Chromatology of security: Introducing colours to visual security studies. Securitizing images: The female body and the war in Afghanistan.

    Veronica Mars and Philosophy: Investigating the Mysteries of Life (Which is a Bitch Until You Die)

    European Journal of International Relations , 19 , — Visualizing climate-refugees: Race, vulnerability, and resilience in global liberal politics. International Political Sociology , 8 , — These works built on the theoretical apparatus provided by Hansen Hansen, L. Theorizing the image for security studies: Visual securitization and the Muhammad cartoon crisis.

    European Journal of International Relations , 17 , 51 — How images make world politics: International icons and the case of Abu Ghraib. Review of International Studies , 41 , — In this section, I argue that several aesthetic themes established through the interaction between noir, dystopian science fiction, and cyber-punk in the previous section find their way into expert texts in cybersecurity, priming their readers to expect substantial moral ambiguity. Engaging the limits of visibility: Photography, security and surveillance. Due to its relative novelty and digital basis, many concepts and objects in cybersecurity have no obvious visual association, and so even though images are used powerfully in other security domains to frame issues in certain ways, the scope for doing so in cybersecurity is much wider.