So, over the last four days I have read approximately three books, designed and coded one game, two sites, and have visited or otherwise have been entertained by over twenty. I have watched five movies this week, which is definitely not average, as I barely watch any type of full length motion pictures. In fact, I barely watch any type of visual media other than the news. So, I would have to admit I might have overdosed on the type of movies that I am most entertained by.
The catalyst for the movie “binge”, as it were, was a discussion, well, actually a question a buddy on campus asked me:”Man, you have never seen ‘Gamers’?”Never one to be much of a pop cultural fanatic, I simply admitted that I had not, but I let him know through my emotional reaction that my curiosity had been piqued. And that was the truth….
I was happily appalled at the sheer animalistic brutality and the nihilistically bizarre interpretation of the direction that capitalist pursuits and technological vicariousness would take us. Ugly. Sick. A screenplay adopted from the world of online gamers involved in first person shooters and those locked into the lives of their “avatars” in games such as “Second Life” and Simms. A dark, and yet extremely poetic handling of the themes of class and shallow social mores in the face of naked hypocrisy twists and turns as the terms PING and hack take on different meanings in the Matrix meets macabre.
I was thrilled, disgusted, and enlightened…
I was able to purge some of the darker qualities of “Gamers” with a shot of “Surrogates.” Same theme and yet the person on the other side of the screen, so to speak, was just another robot. The theme of this particular piece was less brutal, as it handled growing old and hiding behind our outward appearances, as well as an old conspiratorialist favorite, the robots in front of us. Similar to “Gamers” this movie takes place in a not so distant future where the government has sanctioned the use of “surrogates”, androids that can be controlled by humans and used to perform daily functions. In this world, they have become so abused that humans that don’t use them are referred to as “meat bags”, and a class war has erupted between those that don’t use them, and those that do. A few great plot twists, a meltdown performed by Bruce Willis, and an entire planet saved by Bruce Willis later, I am left in want. This may have occurred partly because of a storyline discrepancy, and yet also because the rawness of “Gamers” was forcing itself into my analysis of the “Surrogates”.
Although, I also watched Tarantino completely get history wrong, and totally piss on 20th century intelligence gathering and liaisons in his “Inglorious Bastards”. And of course, ladies, yes, I watched the documentary about the Tehran Erotic Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian depiction of highly sexually charged scenes in hieroglyph. (No wonder I’m crazy!) Although both of these pieces were great and actually, now that I reread that, they probably would have fit in perfectly with the other motion pictures reviewed thus far, they didn’t fit in quite as well as the other film I saw.
“Repo men”. On the suggestion of my manager, I watched this horrid tale of capitalism gone organ. A future were if your late on a payment, someone will take a very long knife and cut you open in the middle of the street and take your liver, kidney, or heart. Although the beginning seemed slow and morbidly too instructional, the tempo increased as our tale of sliced skinned upsurges into a dance of the romantically repulsive. A blood orgy, a seduction of screams and scenes that will leave you amazed at the choreography of killing, as well as beckoning the inner bitch to please settle down…this movie is a ride through the unapologetic abyss of the poetic and the socially critical. The plot twist carry the movie through to its jarring, and yet final conclusion. Tour de force is not quite enough…
The media researcher in me wonders what a diet of films about the future will actually do about throwing it off the course these writers believe it is on. We have lived through “Fahrenheit 451”, and yet I fear that the greatness of the Gutenberg press will be out shadowed by the entertaining bright lights emitted like the sets of the world described in “1984” that we refer to as computers and the internet. We are already watching the convicted prison fight to the death among themselves in the “documentaries” aired on Ms-NBC such as “Lockup Raw – Americas Toughest Jails”, “Lockup Raw – Criminal Minds”, or “Lockup Raw – Convict Code”. The US government is growing more and more in control of the financial factors that allow the average citizen to get a fair say. Who do you run to when the people you are in debt to are your government? This is more than unpaid taxes, this is student loans, loans on houses, and the like that will be in the hands of the government soon. Soon you will be forced to have health insurance.
The barrier of our online selves and offline selves is a thin line that merges and separates. I witnessed a sister being slapped because of something she typed on her facebook profile. And yet, how many of us are living so vicariously through our screen names that we identify more with the screen name than our own (subjective, and understandable, but answer the question)? What happens when the only privacy you will have is what you actually look like because so much of our world has become impersonal and we are all just logging in, plugging in? Terms like transparency seem small, and yet I suggest every one of my followers to take a good and long look at what that word means in practice. The future we all fear is already here.
I was told that I needed to pull away from watching so many dark movies. I was told that it would make my dreams dark. I laughed to myself and considered my life. These movies are a reflection. Often skewed, as we hear that an army has been set up on the borders of Nigeria from a radio broadcast in the movie “Repo men”, which reminds me of the depiction of the great Naija in the movie, “District 9”. And even these socially and politically charged “angles” are a reflection of the crudities of the world in which we live.
We are a superficial people now. Today, ask yourself how many fat people, ugly people, broke people, poor people, too dark people, not the right clothes people, not the right school people, not the right neighborhood people will kill themselves within the next hour of you reading this. How many are slowly finding acceptance of themselves through their online interactions? How many people are hiding behind a picture that may not be theirs?
The “future” to the poet and writer is only a version of the present chopped and screwed for easy viewing. We simply distort it and place it in another realm so that one can see themselves without getting personal before getting wise.