“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” From the very beginning, Hollywood movies have offered a frightening reflection of our deep fear of technology, its effects, and sinister implications. Time-traveling terminators, resurrected dinosaurs, alien invasions, and virtual prisons all give us a sense of just how terrified Hollywood writers, directors, and producers think we are (or should be).
In this class we will investigate popular, pivotal movies and discuss their fears, warnings, and possible solutions to this ever-increasing cultural technophobia. Discussion topics will include: “the mad scientist and you,” “ghosts in the machines,” “malfunctioning machinations,” “risks and rewards,” and “the power of human ingenuity.”
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Class 1: Jurassic Park
The first class covered the 1993 blockbuster film, Jurassic Park, and touched upon its many conflicts with technology, the ethics of genetic engineering, themes including “chaos vs. control,” and our cultural obsession with dinosaurs.
Class 2: The Matrix
This class covered the 1999 sci-fi/action film, The Matrix (Wachowski), and touch upon the many conflicts with technology, ethics of artificial intelligence and surveillance, themes including “fate vs. choice,” and our cultural obsession with truth and meaning.
Class 3: Star Wars: A New Hope
This class covered the 1977, sci-fi/ fantasy film, Star Wars: A New Hope and touch upon the many conflicts with technology, ethics of cybernetics, weapons of mass destruction, individuality in the face of automation, as well as themes including the “hero’s journey” and our pop cultural obsession with all things Star Wars.
Class 4: Gojira (Godzilla)
This class covered the 1954 classic Godzilla (Gojira) and discussed the fears, warnings, and possible solutions to this ever-increasing cultural technophobia. Discussion topics included: man vs nature, weapons of mass destruction, tensions between tradition and progress, and the hunt for mad scientists in a post-WWII Japan.
Class 5: Independence Day
In this class investigated the 1996 blockbuster film, Independence Day, and discuss the fears, warnings, and possible solutions to this ever-increasing cultural technophobia. Discussion topics included: Weapons of War, Fear and Courage, Patriotism, the Redemptive Power of Love, Foreignness and “The Other”, as well as try to bring about World Peace in the Digital Age.
Class 6: August 2nd Ex Machina
This class covers the 2014 sci-fi-horror film, Ex Machina (Garland), and touch upon the many conflicts with technology, ethics of artificial intelligence and surveillance. We will discuss themes including “fate vs. choice,” post-modern mad scientists, and the pitfalls of dating a robot.
Class 7: September 8th 1984
This class covers the 1984 dystopian film based on George Orwell’s classic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Radford), and touch upon the many conflicts with technology, ethics of surveillance, and the power of propaganda. Some themes will include the “duality of humanity,” “freedom vs. control,” and our cultural suspicions of information, truth, and our co-workers.
Class 8: October 4th The Shining
This month on Talking Horror in Film, we take a break from Technophobia to turn our attention to the truly terrifying topic of family with Stanley Kubric’s horror masterpiece, The Shining. We will touch upon a different perspective of technology, the cycle of abuse, and the power of storytelling. Some themes will include the “duality and the role of mirrors” “psychology vs. supernatural,” and the power of the past.
Class 9: November 8 Moonraker
This month on “Talking Technophobia in Film,” we pour some dry martinis and search for secret agents in space, with the 1979 James Bond film, Moonraker. We touch upon the transformative & subversive elements of technology, the ethical uncertainties of the spy genre, and the Star-Wars-ification of cinema. Some themes will include the “redemptive power of love,” “human ingenuity,” and what happens when social critiques become a gimmick.
Class 10: Back to the Future
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” We grab our hover boards, crank up the volume on Chuck Barry’s “Johnny B Goode,” and climb into a DeLorean for the Back to the Future Trilogy (1985-1990). We will touch upon prophetic and predictive technologies, the paradoxes of time-travel, and the power of the Nostalgia Cycle. Some themes will include the “mad scientist,” “fate vs. free-will,” and “failure.”
Class 11: Network
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad.” In this month’s Talking Technophobia in Film, all we want is “30 share and a 20 rating,” as we get “mad as hell” with the 1976 prophetic masterpiece, Network. We will touch upon the reflective & projective power of the television, the ethics of journalism, and the sensationalization of tragedy. Some themes will include the “mad scientist,” “brainwashing,” and “dehumanization.” We must careful, because it might just turn out that “the world is business” and we wouldn’t want to “meddled with the primal forces of nature,” now would we?
Season 2: Stanely Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove