Thursday, January 27, 2011

Technophobic Movies: A Top (Bottom?) Ten List

"10 Most Technophobic Movies"
Entertainment, Feature, Technology, College Crunch (January 20, 2011)

" 'Technophobia' is a pretty easy word to break down: fear of technology, specifically of advanced computers or other devices and a belief that they will lead to humanity's ruin. Although a technophobe sounds like a neo-Luddite, it actually goes a lot deeper than that. What's more, technophobia pops up in movies far more often than you might think. The easy target when it comes to tech-based movies are those films that show an egregious misunderstanding of how the Internet works, or that show older generations struggling to get along in a digital age. But real technophobia deals with tech gone awry, taking over a person or city or world in order to execute its own lethal agenda...."

Hats off to this post's writer: Somebody noticed the drearily-familiar assumption behind WALL-E's setting. Then there are the Star Trek references. The post missed The Ultimate Computer, where Star Fleet decided to see what would happen if they plugged an insane computer into the Enterprise's flight controls. I'll get back to that.

The 'top ten technophobic films' named in the post:
Each has a brief discussion, plus a short video clip.

The Lemming thinks the post's author gave pretty good arguments for each film's technophobia.

It might be more challenging to find a list of 10 films made in the last half-century that addressed the role of technology in society - and didn't lapse into hand-wringing anguish at some point.

- - - And We're All Gonna Die!

There isn't all that much difference, in the Lemming's opinion, between the lot who've been selling 'end time prophecy' books over the last half-century or so; and those dreadfully serious folks who've been selling books about the ice age and food riots and all sorts of terrible things. In both cases, their target audiences don't seem to notice that - for at least the last half-century - they've been wrong.

That won't stop a true believer, of course. Just because we aren't about 10 years into an ice age now - and snow still falls now and again in England - well, that doesn't count. The end-times folks apparently decide that somebody miscounted the number of times "seven" is mentioned in Deuteronomy - or whatever the basis of the fizzled prophecy was. The fashionably intellectual agonizers start reading books by a new set of 'experts.' In either case, life goes anxiously on. The Lemming's ranted about this before:

Technology is Dangerous!

Actually, technology is dangerous: as anybody who has touched a hot kettle knows. The Lemming could claim that if some arrogant maniac hadn't started singing meat before eating it, we'd all be nice and safe: and hoping that the hyenas didn't find us.

There'd be some truth to that. Fire is dangerous. As the caveman in the cartoon said to his fellow-old-coots, "just wait: someday it'll get out of control and burn the entire village." He was right, by the way. Even now, fires sometimes get out of hand. Remember The Great Fire of London? Or the annual wildfires around Los Angeles that occasionally destroy houses and kill people?

And yet, we keep using fire. Maybe because on the whole there's big enough gains to justify the risks.

Or maybe we're just crazy:
In the Lemming's opinion, by the way, 'mother nature' is about as frail and helpless as Queen Boudicca - and the Lemming's ranted about that, too:

Dangerous Technology and the Lemming

A technophobe is "a person who dislikes or avoids new technology." (Princeton's WordNet)

The Lemming is not a technophobe.

Instead of fearing being caught up in some sort of "overwhelmed hive mind," the Lemming loves the Internet. Finally, there's a way to get at large amounts of data at a reasonable speed. (January 27, 2010) 'Reasonable' from the Lemming's point of view, that is.

There are problems with the Internet - but it's not the 'net, in the Lemming's opinion. Wherever we've got people - we've got trouble. It's a sort of package deal. There never was, in the Lemming's opinion, a 'good old days.' (A Catholic Citizen in America (November 28, 2010)

And living in a world without running water and antibiotics was not all that much fun. In the Lemming's opinion.

The notion that there never was a 'good old days' isn't, really, all that pessimistic - not as the Lemming sees it. It's just a recognition that folks who didn't have to deal with short circuits and grass clippings had other problems. Like the manure that piled up in cities - and that's about enough for one post.

Related posts:

A tip of the hat to Florine Church, for drawing my attention to the College Crunch post.


Brigid said...

Were the entries in your bullet point list supposed to all link to The Ultimate Computer?

I think there might be a word missing: "miscounted the number times 'seven' is mentioned in Deuteronomy"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

I find it interesting that WALL-E is technophobic since the main characters are predominantly robots. Yes, there's the starting premise of the movie, but it's still robots who save the day.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Oh, fudge. I've fixed the list links: they now point to relevant pages on the website.

The "miscounted" sentence was okay in a dialect I often use - but adding "of" makes it a bit easier to read, in my opinion.


About WALL-E: I think that calling it a "technophobic" movie is something of a stretch, for the reasons you gave. Still, that premise was drearily familiar to me. The rest of the movie - delightful.

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