Does not Compute: 5 Films That Show Technology is Not to Be Trusted
Antisocial, the frankly awesome tale of social networking gone awry, will be making it’s Aussie debut at Monster Fest this year (tickets available here), before being released on glossy Blu-ray and DVD on December 4th. Brutal, shocking and guaranteed to make you think twice about what you post on Facebook, we can’t wait to show it to you.
Technology has always been shitter. For every Manborg out there, there’s some other tech that will inevitably want to bite us on the ass. Just look at the Terminator films – James Cameron was clearly out to warn us all with those. But we’re all aware of Skynet now, the 90s have gone and we’re not in a desperate struggle against big metal skeletons. We dodged that bullet. But that doesn’t mean we should be resting on our laurels. John Noonan presents 5 other occasions where technology has nearly led to the downfall of humankind.
Demon Seed (1977)
Based on the novel Dean Koontz, 1977’s Demon Seed shows you exactly what happens when you go about creating Artificial Intelligence and don’t give it what it wants. In this case, the AI known as Proteus wants ‘out of this box’. Unwilling to comply, his creator shuts him down and goes and plays Minesweeper (maybe). Like a petulant child, Proteus manages to hack his way into his creator’s home security system. Therein, it takes his wife (Julie Christie) hostage and, horrifically, forces her to have its child. But it doesn’t stop there, no no. Proteus wants to put its consciousness into the child so that it can become human. Now look… There are upgrades and then there’s that!
Dean Koontz returned to his novel in 1997, rewriting it from the point of view of Proteus who, amongst other nefarious machinations, tries to use Muppet impressions to comfort his prisoner. Obviously not everyone is keen on remakes, but you have wonder about the damage Proteus could do with things like broadband, Wi-Fi and Simpsons Tapped Out.
Originally a feature length drama shown on BBC One, Ghostwatch has never been repeated since its transmission in 1993. Like Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio transmission, people were sucked in hook line and sinker. Treated as a ‘live’ transmission on Halloween, Ghostwatch saw several real-life TV presenters, including Michael Parkinson and Red Dwarf’s Craig Charles, investigating a supposedly haunted house on an estate in England. Eventually all hell breaks loose, with children disappearing and good old Parky being possessed by a malicious spirit. How does technology feature into this? Well, as the show moves along, it becomes apparent the house’s main spirit, going by the name of Mr Pipes, is actually using the live transmission as a countrywide séance; the more belief in him, the more corporeal he becomes. Our own televisions and the belief that anything we see on them must be fact are used against us!
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Often fondly remembered as the film where Stephen King was coked out of his mind whilst making it, Maximum Overdrive is the cautionary tale of what happens when machines try to take over the world. And by machines we mean cars, petrol pumps, drinks dispensers and kitchen carving knives.
Admittedly, it’s not the machines fault that they’ve developed a taste for blood. If we’re being honest, we should be wagging our fingers at the rogue comet, Rhea-M, that passed Earth and reprogrammed everything because, to put it in layman’s terms, science. However, surely someone somewhere storyboarded this scenario. Why wouldn’t a company pull out the stops to ensure that their limited edition Green Goblin trucks aren’t susceptible to outer space interference? It just smacks of complacency all round really.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Speaking of ideas that should have been stopped at the drafting stage… Meet John Hammond; a perfect storm of money, access to the right technology and lack of forward thinking. Hammond had a dream. That dream was to clone some of history’s most dangerous, and coolest, creatures and open a theme park. Using the best technology and government officials looking the other way that you can get if you throw the right amount money at someone, Hammond did achieve that dream. Just in time to send some archeologists, a chaos theorist, a lawyer and Hammond’s own grandchildren for a jaunt around the quite clearly very safe and unflinchingly secure Jurassic Park.
A security breach would eventually see the park’s living exhibitions running riot and eating every lawyer sat on a toilet in sight. We can’t blame the dinosaurs for doing what comes to them naturally, but we can, like with Proteus, blame technology for being too damn trustworthy. In the books, Hammond meets a grisly end, but, despite endangering everyone, he merely gets a slap on the wrists in the film. Seems a bit unfair really.
The most influential sci-fi movie ever. Fact! Metropolis is considered to be one of Fritz Lang’s greatest achievements. It also proves that machines cannot… nay, MUST not be our friends. In the city of Metropolis, the working masses through automation have become faceless cogs in the wheel. They work when they’re told, they sleep when they’re told. But an uprising is rumoured…
When the Master of Metropolis decides to undermine his workers’ union, he doesn’t just send in the heavies to have a bit of a boot party. He enlists the help of a mad scientist to create a cyborg double of the union’s leader. Unfortunately for him, the cyborg develops free will and helps the union to overthrow him. Unfortunately, for the union this uprising leads to their homes being flooded and their children nearly dying. Stability can only be restored by the Master’s son assumes the role of mediator between the workers and the ruling class.
An interesting theory states that Metropolis has two views on technology; that it sees it as oppressive and destructive, whilst at the same time progressive for society. The bottom line for me is that machines are the cause of most problems in life and we, my human siblings, must prepare ourselves for the onslaught of robot molesters, killer drinks machines and bloody big dinosaurs! Do not take my words in vein!
Black Mirror (2011-onwards)
Created by British journalist and satirist, Charlie Brooker (who wrote the equally brilliant Big Brother with zombies drama, Dead Set), Black Mirror is an anthology show similar to the Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Over two series and 6 episodes, Brooker explored our dependence on technology and living in a world where, thanks to Facebook and Twitter, we are never really alone. Each episode is superb with the tone varying wildly week to week. In the darkly comic The National Anthem, the British Prime Minster has to fight against a twitter campaign that wants him to have sex with a pig to save a woman’s life. On the flipside of the coin, Be Right Back is a heartbreaking story of a woman who clones her husband using the information he’s left online through social networking. If ever there was a show to make you really question the onus you put on your smart phone then Black Mirror is it. I urge you to watch it.