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Which clippings match 'Dystopia' keyword pg.1 of 2
20 NOVEMBER 2016

Alex Gendler: how to recognize a dystopia

"The genre of dystopia – the 'not good place'– has captured the imaginations of artists and audiences alike for centuries. But why do we bother with all this pessimism? Alex Gendler explains how dystopias act as cautionary tales – not about some particular government or technology, but the very idea that humanity can be molded into an ideal shape."

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Aldous Huxley • Alex Gendler • Animal Farm (1954)artificial intelligence • aryan • atomic energyBlade Runner (1982)brave new world • Brave New World (1932) • cautionary talecommunist systemconcentration campdemocracydepletion of natural resourcesDr Strangelove (1964) • drudgery • dystopia • dystopian fiction • dystopian literature • dystopian science fictioneugenicsfactory workerfascismfree willgas chambergenetic engineering • Gullivers Travels (1726) • H G Wells • humanitys future • impoverished masses • impoverishment • industrial ageindustrial revolution • industrial warfare • It Cant Happen Here (1935) • Jack London • Jonathan Swift • mass entertainment • mass media ageMetropolis (1927) • modern anxieties • nightmare world • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)nuclear war • oligarchy • oppressionoverpopulationparadise • perfect world • political structures • povertyprogress narratives • resource depletion • science fiction • Sinclair Lewis • slumsocial rolessocial structures • space colony • space travelspeculative fiction • squalor • surveillance state • TED-Ed • The Handmaids Tale (1985) • The Iron Heel (1908) • The RepublicThe Time MachineThomas Moretotalitarianism • tyrannical oligarchy • tyranny of modernismutopia • V for Vendetta (2006) • Watchmen (2009) • We (1924) • Westworld (1973) • WW1WWII • Yevgeny Zamyatin

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 NOVEMBER 2014

They Live: sunglasses reveal subliminal capitalist messages

"John Carpenter's They Live (1988), one of the neglected masterpieces of the Hollywood Left, is a true lesson in critique of ideology. It is the story of John Nada–Spanish for 'nothing'! –, a homeless laborer who finds work on a Los Angeles construction site, but has no place to stay. One of the workers, Frank Armitage, takes him to spend the night at a local shantytown. While being shown around that night, he notices some odd behavior at a small church across the street. Investigating it the next day, he accidentally stumbles on several more boxes hidden in a secret compartment in a wall, full of sunglasses. When he later puts on a pair of the glasses for the first time, he notices that a publicity billboard now simply displays the word 'OBEY,' while another billboard urges the viewer to 'MARRY AND REPRODUCE.' He also sees that paper money bears the words 'THIS IS YOUR GOD.' Additionally he soon discovers that many people are actually aliens who, when they realize he can see them for what they are, the police suddenly arrive. Nada escapes and returns to the construction site to talk over what he has discovered with Armitage, who is initially uninterested in his story. The two fight as Nada attempts to convince and then force him to put on the sunglasses. When he does, Armitage joins Nada and they get in contact with the group from the church, organizing resistance. At the group's meeting they learn that the alien's primary method of control is a signal being sent out on television, which is why the general public cannot see the aliens for what they are. In the final battle, after destroying the broadcasting antenna, Nada is mortally wounded; as his last dying act, he gives the aliens the finger. With the signal now missing, people are startled to find the aliens in their midst."

(Slavoj Zizek)

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1988advertising billboardsalien invasion • alien occupation • broadcasting antenna • buy and obey • Cable 54 • capitalist ideologychurchconsumerism • contact lenses • control • critique of capitalism • critique of ideologycult filmcultural critique • drifter • dystopia • homeless labourer • Hooverville • ideology • John Carpenter • Keith David • kick ass and chew bubble gumLos Angelesmass mediamedia consumermedia consumption • Meg Foster • nameless drifter • passive consumptionpervasive advertisingpost-ideological society • prophetic • Roddy Piper • ruling class • satirical film • science fiction • shantytown • Slavoj Zizek • subliminal advertising • subliminal messages • sunglassesThe Perverts Guide to Ideology (2012)They Live (1988)threat • underground organisation • unmasked • watch television

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 JULY 2012

Fahrenheit 451: passive consumption through audience participation

"When the 'Family' (the television with its 'cousin' announcers and actors) presents an interactive play in which Linda believes she has a role, an actor (Donald Pickering) wearing glasses with thick, black rectangular frames, turns to the camera as it zooms in on him and says, 'What do you think, Linda?'"

(Tom Whalen, Gale Student Resources In Context)

Whalen, Tom. "The Consequences of Passivity: Re–evaluating Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451," in Literature–Film Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 3, July, 2007, pp. 181(10).

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1966Alphaville • anti-intellectualism • audience participation • banbannedBernard Herrmannbig brotherbook • book burning • book-people • booksburning • Clarisse (character) • comic bookconformityconsolettecontroldisplay walldomestic futuresdystopiadystopian futureFahrenheit 451fire • fire department • firefighter • fireman • Francois Truffaut • Furia • futuristic societyGattacahousewifehumourindividualisminteractive dramainteractive experience • interactive teledrama • interactive television • It Happened Here (film) • Julie ChristieLinda (character)literature • Machiavelli • mahogany veneer • massificationmedia consumerMetropolis (1927)Montag (character)new forms of television • Nicolas Roeg • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)Oskar Werner • parlor wall • parlour • participation dramaparticipative media • passive consumer • passive consumptionpicture newspaper • pro-literature underground • Ray Bradburyreadingreality televisionscience fictionself-reflexivity • sensory deprivation • speculative fictionsubversion • telecast • televisiontelevision screenThe Family (television) • The Handmaids Tale • The Martian Chronicles • The Prince (book) • THX 1138 • totalitarianism • TV parlor • TV story • TV wall • video wall • visual joke • wall TV • wall-sized screen • what do you think • written languagewritten word

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 OCTOBER 2011

Cyberpunk: the future has already happened

"Cyberpunk' is a 60–minute documentary, the ad for which states: 'What started as a book became a literary movement. What was a literary movement became a subculture'.

And that's one of the major flaws of this film. It perpetuates the general myth that everything 'cyberpunk' expanded out of 'Neuromancer' and Gibson's vision. In truth, most of the stuff covered here (virtual reality, hacking, industrial music, cybernetics, designer drugs, anarchy) was already developing quite nicely before Lord Gibson, Chairman Bruce, and the rest (Shirley, Rucker, Shiner) were kind enough to provide a fictional universe in which to fuse these disparate explorations.

The production of 'Cyberpunk' is very inconsistent, too –– some parts are professional documentary, while other parts have the odor of quick–cash opportunism. The breathy women narrator is ultimately aggravating, oh–ing and ah–ing over all this stuff.

But there is some good material here, including interviews with Gibson, Leary, Scott Fisher (of NASA/Ames), Brenda Laurel, Vernon Reed (Living Color), Bill Leeb (Front Line Assembly) and others. There's also some cool computer graphics (circa 1989) and an industrial soundtrack with Front Line Assembly, Ministry, and Severed Heads.

'Cyberpunk' is still a must–see since it's the only documentary about cyberpunk that we have."

(G. Branwyn)

Fig.1 Produced and Directed by Marianne Trench and Peter von Brandenberg, Intercon Productions, 1990.

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1990 • anarchy • augmentation • Bill Leeb • bodybody modificationBrenda Laurel • Bruce Bethke • computer graphics • computer virus • corporeal augmentationcyberneticscyberpunk • Cyberpunk (1990) • cyborgdesigner drugsdystopiaembodimentethicsfictional universe • Front Line Assembly • hackinghacktivismhuman beings • industrial music • informationinformation wants to be free • John Shirley • Lewis Shiner • Living Color • Mariana TrenchMinistry (band)mutant scienceNASA Ames Research CenterNeuromancerorgan • phone phreaking • posthumanRudy Ruckersci-fiScott Fisher • Severed Heads (band) • speculative designtechnological determinismtechnophobiaTimothy Leary • Vernon Reed • virtual realityvirusvisions of the futureVRWilliam Gibson

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 DECEMBER 2009

Alphaville exists. Everywhere!

"Science–fiction films tell us as much about the time in which they were made as the future they project and between the two moments–the one specific, the other nominal (1984, 2001, etc)–a sense develops of their qualities of prescience and allegorical vision. The enterprise of proposing a world–to–be is always a hostage to the future's fortune. The law of diminishing returns that applies as regards special effects bears this out. How soon before Matrix–era 'bullet time' looks as dated as Douglas Trumbull's 'star gate' pyrotechnics in 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)? Which may explain why Alphaville hasn't aged as badly as other examples of the genre; it finds its 'special effect' in the specifically cinematic resource of light.

But this light, let's remind ourselves, is the light of the past brought to bear on the presence of the future now. Would it be going too far to suggest that, in adding the dimensions of past and future to the present of 1965, Godard was able to set the controls of his particular time machine to withstand the very test of time? There's no shortage of films that seek to travel in time following Alphaville, from Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) and Mauvais sang (Leos Carax, 1986) to Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997) and Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998). There is also the developing genre of what critic Jonathan Romney has named 'steel and glass cinema' which he describes 'as cinema set in the recognisably contemporary urban world but framed and shot in such a way that it becomes detached, not unreal so much as irreal, bordering on science fiction', examples of which include Elle est des nôtres (She's a Jolly Good Fellow, Seigrid Alnoy, 2002), Demonlover (Olivier Assayas, 2002), Cypher (Vincenzo Natali, 2002) and Code 46 (Michael Winterbottom, 2003). Romney claims Alphaville to be 'the mother' of such cinema and with good reason. In the forty or so years separating Alphaville from Demonlover it has become evident that the no–place of Godard's dystopia, with its labyrinth of corridors and lobbies, was already one big non–place in waiting. The presence of the future that Godard was keen to capture back in 1965 has since taken shape as a global nonplace crossing continents and time–zones. 'It may be that we have already dreamed our dream of the future', J.G. Ballard has mused, 'and have woken with a start into a world of motorways, shopping malls and airport concourses which lie around us like a first instalment of a future that has forgotten to materialize.' Or, to put it another way, Alphaville exists. Everywhere."

(Chris Darke, Vertigo Magazine)

This is an edited extract from Chris Darke's monograph on J–L Godard's Alphaville to be published by I.B.Tauris in 2005. Chris Darke is a writer, critic and lecturer on the moving image. His book of selected writings, Light Readings, is published by Wallflower Press. He is also represented, with his film study Chris on Chris, on the DVD of La Jetée and Sans Soleil. See also pages 26 and 38.

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19651982198619971998 • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) • 200220032005airportAlphavillebetweenBrazilbullet timecritiqueculture • Dark City (1998) • Demonlover • dystopiaenvironmentfutureGattacainterzone • irreal • J G BallardJean-Luc Godard • labyrinth • lightmall • Mauvais Sang • non-placeRidley ScottSao Paolosci-fiscience-fictionsocial interactionsocietyspaceStanley Kubrick • Stargate • steel and glass cinema • The Matrix (1999)traditionurban

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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