I really liked Psycho Pass’s take on the whole idea of privilege. It’s a pretty common term if you’ve ever gone to the social justice corners of the internet, particularly the ones that use the term ‘problematic’ as often as a teenager uses the word ‘like’. The general idea is that society gives you a headstart in life and provides fewer barriers to progressing because of some inherent traits you posses. A white person gets an automatic headstart in life simply because they are white. So do children born into rich families, or people with certain kinds of accents.
You could also suggest that society is automatically biased against murderers, thieves, sex offenders and so on. Which it is. They don’t get jobs and aren’t allowed take out bank loans and have to inform people they like to stare at children through the bushes. Bias is here because they are provably bad. You have to differentiate between people, or else those good at what they do won’t rise to the top. However sometimes the best people won’t rise to the top because they are victim of circumstances beyond their control. Such as, I don’t know, their skin colour. What if we could simply bypass all discrimination and instantly be able to assign people based on their ability without having to wait to see it demonstrated and acting later?
That’s what the Psycho Pass is. Cut out all that evidence and have a machine that can accurately predict how good they are at each area in life. Saves having a lot of useless people inexplicably rise to the top of big organisations and sending it all crashing to the ground. What this does though is eliminate the feeling that people have any control over their lives, and it shoots right back to privilege. This is why the dude with those dashing hairclips got so pissed off when moe~moe~kyun started complaining about her first world problems. Too much choice eh? Oh how I wish I had your problems.
What I don’t want Psycho Pass to do is reveal that there is a fundamental flaw in the Psycho Pass system and it turns out you can’t read how likely it is that someone will commit a crime. In doing so, it would rob the moral question the show is asking of any gravity. Let’s say in Death Note, it was revealed that Light was killing people who weren’t actually bad at all and were in jail because they were wrongly accused. It would seriously destroy the hard moral question on display, because you can simply fob off whether Light is right by saying that “oh he was wrong because not all of them were actually criminals”. If they did that, you wouldn’t have to face the real question of whether killing criminals and bad people is the right approach.
I don’t want to say “this is what Psycho Pass has to be about”, because I’m more than willing to let it tell its own story. But what they were focusing on in this episode is the importance of choice. While sending people to their best place to work might appear be better for that individual person, the removal of the choice for anyone to make that decision on their own damages the psyche of humanity as a whole. If the reveal by the end is “oh wait, turns out the guns have been measuring wrong all along and they aren’t actually bad people at all”, then I’m going to flip my table in frustration. I doubt it will do that. Butch Gen’s writing may be a little clunky in this episode at times, but I trust him to write a good underlying narrative.