Rod Rees writes: When I was first developing the surveillance-heavy world of 2020 that Jenni-Fur, my lead protagonist in Invent-10n, would be living in I spent a while musing on the various youth tribes that might be seen in there. And obviously one of them would have to be a tribe that was resolutely anti-surveillance.
Slappers are a tribe that grew out of the failed protests of 2019 against PanOptika. Now used as a collective term for the sullen and hugely anti-social group who seek to frustrate PanOptika’s facial-recognition ability by wearing wide-brimmed hats and scarves which cover the face. They were the first tribe to wear ‘wobblers’, shoes with a-symmetric heels which change the way a person walks and thus thwart Gait-ID systems. Slappers were named after the Russian Shliapniki, the Jewish refuseniks who continued to wear their fedoras in contravention of the Russian President Shovin’s decree banning hats with brims on the grounds that such hats were nepatriotichny – unpatriotic, as they negated the effectiveness of the Facial Recognition system adopted by the Russian authorities in 2020.
Who the Slappers are: They range from early teens all the way to late-twenties. Disaffected and generally pretty inarticulate, Slappers are against PanOptika, Tête-à-Tête, and an ordered society but can’t really tell you why. Slappers read the eMirror and (contrarily) the eSun. They voted RevisedLabour in the last General Election.
Where to find them: Everywhere. Slappers are perhaps the most pervasive of all the tribes, though there is some localised variation in the colour of the plastic coats they sport (black in London, blue in Bristol, etc.). They frequent nouveau-Protest Folk Clubs (the Anarchist in Hull, and Nigh-Hill-Ism in Putney) where they listen to the unhappy dirges of such bands as Depression-Is-A-High and the Gods of Despair. When not mooching around in collective misery they pass the time watching movies by that enfant terrible of the Life Noir circuit, Charlie Faraday (God, I Wish I Was Dead (2017), Slash My Wrists and Hope to Die (Palm d’Or Winner 2022)).
What they wear: Wide-brimmed hats (to cover the face), unfurled umbrellas (even when it isn’t raining), ankle-length deconstructed plastic raincoats, hoodies by Dead in the Water and (of course) wobblers.
What they’ll say: Nothing you’ll be able to hear. In order to avoid their conversations being picked up on Voice Recognition systems Slappers talk in whispers.
What you should say: ‘Mumble, mumble, mumble.’
What they are against: Being watched and listened to.
Of course, I did this tongue-in cheek, never suspecting that the real world would catch up with my fictional whimsy so quickly. So when I was trawling the web looking for magazines which might review Invent-10n to stumble over this:
Presented by Primitive at Tank Magazine these are a series of ‘Anti-Drone’ Stealth Wear by Adam Harvey (produced in collaboration with NYC designer Johanna Bloomfield) intended to thwart surveillance cameras. My Slappers would have LOVED them. The interesting thing for me was that these designs build on previous work by Adam Harvey – he calls it CV Dazzle – which is face camouflage aimed at negating face recognition. Now that I never thought of!
I think if Invent-10n ever goes into a reprint I’ll ask Mr Harvey if I can feature his CV Dazzle. My Slappers wearing CV Dazzle warpaint would be terrific.