MOOC Week 1 Resources
Some initial reactions to the films.
Film 1: Bendito Machine III
I am not an expert on films. In this story, it is easy enough to characterize all but one of the people as sheep in that they blindly follow whatever is set on the stump. Apparently bored with the current technology (radio?), the “main” character (by appearances) sets out to find something different, on what appears to be a somewhat difficult and dangerous journey. He takes the television thrown at him and brings it down to the rest, whereupon they immediately discard the bull (radio?). The television has many traits, it holds their attention, taking them dangerous places as they are caught up in the fascination the moving images provide. They not only follow, but emulate the images on the screen, and its fall, precipitated by the advent of the computer, causes death to some. Their trash heap grows. It’s interesting that the computer appears to have a machine gun strapped to the back of it, and I am not sure what is up with all the little things that fall out of the television. The main thing I found interesting about this film is that there is only one person actively participating in these technological advances, albeit to a limited degree. He, too, is limited to what appears from the gods, acting only to hurry the process of new developments. Never do they speak a word or ask for anything, or even comment on that which currently exists. The non-sheep guy leaves the entrancement of the television to the others on his quest for the computer, thereby evincing the only independent thought amongst the people. Certainly it is difficult to see what advantages the technologies provide outside entertainment, and they are definitely causing the amount of trash to grow, and wildlife to perish by the thoughtless disposal of outdated forms. Overall, I see this as a critique of our thoughtless acceptance of technology and a call to consider its effects on us and the world around us.
Film 2: Inbox
I would characterize this account as having a combination of utopian and dystopian elements. Certainly both characters are disenchanted with current methods of communication. It’s an interesting study of gender that the male appears to suffer from a lack of contact while the female with a surfeit. At any rate, they’re both unhappy. What cures this unhappiness is a magical return to earlier forms of technology, note passing. An accidental mix-up in real life leads to this communication, and in this way the film’s plot is much like that of any romantic comedy. Definitely the fact that they have a real-life connection makes their subsequent exchanges more meaningful. This is the dystopian aspect, where I see the film criticizing the impersonal aspect of many of today’s technological communications. However, the film is also pointing out that we don’t pay close attention to what is going on, as portrayed by the mixed-up bags. This shows that we are not lacking opportunities for meaningful engagement, but perhaps the skills for being aware of them have become dulled through misuse. It is also pointing out that people intimidated by face-to-face interactions are now capable of having those interactions in a less intimidating atmosphere. Granted we don’t have magical object-transferring bags, but we do have the internet.
Film 3: Thursday
Well, this is an interesting little take on how we compartmentalize ourselves, and the natural world. Certainly the mother bird isn’t having an easy time of feeding her chicks, but this is not only shown for the pathos of the mother unable to feed her babies, but for the nuisance it causes the humans when the bird is forced to seek nourishment, to the detriment of their technological world. I see the wires resembling worms as a study in how we don’t (can’t) really get away from natural forms, even in the design of unnatural products. The humans had differing reactions to the bird causing the power loss. Three were shown, one reacted very little, the next seemed to be on the verge of nervous breakdown, and the last was the lady, perfectly content to otherwise amuse herself (though still through a piece of technology). Notably, she doesn’t even take time to enjoy nature at the park, but plays with her phone. Does this stop her from noticing the bird’s plight? The man doesn’t seem to have a natural reaction to the baby bird hitting his window, either. Does the window even open? One is left to wonder as even the screens are remote-operated. While they are up in space, the humans split into pairs, and follow the directions of the space needle (?) operator explicitly. Not that they have a choice. The humans never say a word, though the man and woman are happy to see one another on the subway platform. Interestingly, they show the history of communication with the motion of the bird carrying a letter from one face to the other for text messages on the man’s phone. Where does this leave the birds? Seems they are outside looking in at their own destruction, to me.
Film 4: New Media
Wow. So, the similarity to the Bendito film lies in the characterization of humans as passive to the effects technology has on the natural world. This film being so short, it’s hard to make a whole lot of it. Certainly, there’s only one human alive, that is watching television and has some sort of device attached to his ear. One can assume he is being controlled, but that’s a stretch. Definitely the world outside this room with the man in it is suffering from an advanced case of neglect. That isn’t a bad thing for the plants taking over, they’re even growing on cars. But the floating bomb-like projectiles and the hovering space-alien type “creatures” are another story. The difference from Bendito in this is that while technology seems to advanced without human assistance, the lone human is still prey to earlier technology. Also, there are no gods outside the hovering tentacled things.
I think I need to watch all of these another time or two, but in the interests of catching up and saving time, today is not that day.