Watch your neighbour

Remember the Orwellian Transport for London CCTV poster from 2002? There’s a new poster on the Underground, inviting us to report our suspicions of fellow citizens to the nearest authority. I actually think that it’s a great piece of artwork, but there’s something unsettling about the tone and the overall impression.

Perhaps it’s the fact that, if you changed the inscriptions to Cyrillic, it wouldn’t look out of place in the Tate Modern’s collection of Soviet propaganda posters.

If you see or hear anything suspicious, tell our staff or the police immediately

What is suspicious, though? Sweating on the un-air-conditioned Tube? Carrying a rucksack like half the passengers on there? Having a dark complexion in a city of a thousand ethnicities?

I don’t think that the poster is really serving a useful purpose: it merely heightens tension and unease, and increases the fear of the other that leads to Brazilian electricians getting shot and Muslims being viewed as fifth columnists. That doesn’t help anyone.

And besides, it just looks creepy and totalitarian.


  1. Gregory Brown

    Wrote at 2007-07-10 01:14 UTC using Mozilla on Linux:

    Unfortunately, this has been on pretty much all public transit I’ve seen in the northeast US, especially in New York anc Connecticut for the last 6 years.

    Ours says “If you see something say something” and has like, pictures of bomb defusing machines or suspicious packages…

    They also play reminders in the stations that we’re subject to random search by police.

    It’s too bad that you’re seeing this kind of stuff there, too… :-/
  2. Julik

    Wrote at 2007-08-27 01:25 UTC using Safari 419.3 on Mac OS X:

    That looks sooo brasilianesque-orwellian!
  3. Bjoern

    Wrote at 2011-09-05 10:04 UTC using Safari 533.22.3 on Mac OS X:

    Rather reminds me of Paul Rand’s style. Nice graphic design.