Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Transhumanist Philosophies in Sci-Fi Films of the 1970s & 1980s

As a popular culture scholar, I am interested in examining how films reflect and express social issues surrounding the growth of technology. With this in mind, I have reflected here, through a quick video guide, on specific media (1970s and 1980s films) that I consumed across my early life that socialized me toward transhumainst philosophies. 
Behavioral psychologists and media studies scholars have investigated the numerous interactive processes operative when adolescents consume media. I take issue with the luddites who claim erroneously, and somewhat nefariously, that films and video games are at the heart of youth violence. Yet, I concede that consumption of different media projects during formative years interact dynamically with early identity development. 

Introspective question: How has media consumed at early ages influenced your relationships with technology? 

The films I watched during my early formative years made me open (actively receptive) to human-robot interactions, AI, and proactive evolutionary engineering concepts. It seems the logic next step in the narrative I've been watching since age 5.

Here then are a few highlights of an early life-timeline of popular cultural products. This list is not comprehensive, rather a brief filmic travelogue of pre-internet era, sci-film films of the 1970s and 1980s. Why? Because film trailers of this period are hysterical. 

These film narratives coincided with the nascent growth of technology in Silicon Valley, where the cultural products I consumed were mirrors of the social and physical changes around me. It’s interesting to think about how technology influences the ways we think about ourselves and the cultural products that express us. It's no coincidence that the growth of computer technologies in the 1970s and 1980s was reflected in the film narratives of the decades. Comparisons can be drawn to today, where successive waves of new technologies have been reflected in the growth of sci-fi films. In particular, the exploration of social issues surrounding human-robotic relationships were deeply woven into 1970s and 1980s sci-fi films. 

Pre-Internet Transhuman Films 1970s-1980s
THX1138 (1971) - "We are all now programmed for perfect happiness."

Westworld (1973) - "Our robots are programmed to provide you with an unforgettable occasion."

Logan's Run (1976) - "There's just one catch." 

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) - "A shocking mind stretching experience in sight, in space, in sex."

Futureworld (1976) - "Where you can experience anything you can imagine, and a few things you can't."

Star Wars (1977) - "Somewhere in space this may be happening right now."

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) - "And what you will see has never been seen before."

Alien (1979) - "In space, no one can hear you scream."

Star Trek (1979) - "Travel to the outer limits of time and space to challenge a vast living machine of destruction."

The Black Hole (1979) - "Where the here and now might be forever."

Clash of the Titans (1981) - "Before history, beyond imagination."

Escape from New York (1981) - "The entire city is a walled maximum security prison."

Blade Runner (1982) "More human than human is our motto."

Tron (1982) - "A computer, an extension of the human intellect."

E.T. (1982) - "We will witness..."

War Games (1983) - "A promising student at an old game with an electronic twist."

 Dune (1984)  - "The beginning is a very delicate time."

The Last Starfighter (1984) - "It started with a game."

Brazil (1985) - "We're so pleased you could make it."

 Real Genius (1985) - "When the military runs short on brains."

Weird Science (1985) - "This is highly illegal."

The Fly (1986)  - "Where our greatest creations meet our deepest fears."



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