Aug 23 2013
Over the years, there have been many films that show how continued technological progress in our society might lead to some pretty scary consequences. It’s a common theme in sci-fi, and it’s found in a number of the best movies in the genre.
But on closer inspection, are the sorts of advances in these movies really all that bad? I decided to think back to a few films that really didn’t make the most of their own technology, or presented in a really negative light when that didn’t necessarily need to be the case.
Check out my picks below, and I’d love to hear your own thoughts in the comments.
The Pre-Cogs (Minority Report)
All these years later, I’m still waiting for someone to explain this to me. The Pre-Cog system being tested in DC dropped the murder rate to ZERO in Minority Report. But things go awry when Tom Cruise is framed for a murder he is not going to commit (but then does), and it’s discovered that the pre-cog system was used to cover up another murder years earlier.
After the startling revelation, the entire system is dismantled and it’s back to square one in terms of fighting crime.
Look, I get that this newfangled sort of justice system has its flaws, and it allowed someone to get away with murder and could potentially convict innocent people, but SO WHAT? Our CURRENT system convicts innocent people all the time! But you’re willing to throw away a system that literally allowed for a singular murder in all the time it was in operation? What a horrible, horrible waste of what’s obviously a huge leap forward for society. Sure, it’s not perfect and can be abused, but that was certainly far truer of the old system. I never understood why the events of the film necessitated the complete dismantling of the system.
Organ Farms (The Island)
We’re already starting to have the ability to grow organs in labs, and the logical extension of this would be people having identical copies of themselves somewhere that they could pull organs from if need be. An endless supply of body parts to replace whatever gets worn out over time.
The problem with the concept in movies like The Island and Never Let Me Go is that they wake these damn clones up. Who says you have to make a little clone country club or boarding school? Just leave them in comas for their entire existence and you don’t have to deal with any pesky moral problems as to whether or not they’re real people with real lives.
This one sounds more heartless than most perhaps, but really, would you be opposed to a comatose copy of yourself existing out there somewhere if it meant that you could have blood, bone, and organ transfusions at any time? I think not. Or I’m a monster. Not sure which.
In Equilibrium, there’s a drug in the future called Prozium that has completely eliminated war and violence of any kind. It suppresses emotion to the point where the subject can no longer feel anger, and as such, society no longer feels the need to tear apart each other in combat.
Well, for the most part. The downside to the drug is that it also suppresses positive emotion. Love, nostalgia, all that stuff. And there’s still plenty of violence when the fascist government that uses the drug hunts down and murders those who don’t take the drug and still appreciate art and sex and things like that.
Here, I think the problem was in the application, not necessarily the drug itself. Paired with the horribly oppressive government, it’s a terrible idea. But used correctly? You freaking eliminated WAR man! How the hell else are you going to pull that off? So long as you’re not hunting down and murdering people for liking to paint and sing, I think there’s still a way to use this sort of drug effectively for the betterment of society.
The Matrix (The Matrix)
“You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.”
I loved The Matrix when I saw it back in ’99, but this line always stuck with me, and made the murderous Judas Cypher something of a relatable villain. Given the current state of the world in The Matrix, why would you NOT want to simply be plugged in and forget it all?
If your brain was telling you that a plane of existence WAS reality in every way that mattered, why exactly were you better off being sucked out of the simulation and thrust into the real world where you have to wear grey burlap clothing and eat protein porridge for every meal and aren’t a superhero? Why would you not choose the steak?
Perhaps society would break down if people started being able to simulate every important aspect of life in a VR system like The Matrix, but at least we’d all die happier than we would on the outside, wouldn’t we?
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