Red Dot Sight

Authored by: Colin Milburn , Rita Raley

The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138638938
eBook ISBN: 9781315637501
Adobe ISBN:


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The red dot of the laser-sighted weapon appears ubiquitous, a common trope of action movies, political thrillers, police procedurals, first-person shooter games, reality TV, and the nightly news. Yet even as it has become part of everyday realism, it remains a technology of speculative media, projecting an image of risk through a single ray of light, a tiny mote of illumination that speeds ahead and enjoins the present to catch up. In this essay, we follow the red dot as a media object—a phantasmatic figure of precision targeting—as well as the focal point of a way of seeing that is endemic to the era of laser weapons. This is what we call red dot sight: a mediated perspective, an orientation to risk that re-dimensionalizes the optics of threat perception around a crimson speck of light.

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