Mike the Mad Biologist

How Technology Can Make Movies Obsolete

A couple of weeks ago, I rewatched Memento, a movie about someone who has no long term memory. It’s told from his perspective, moving backwards as he learns what has actually happened. His coping mechanisms are writing notes to himself and on himself, as well as a library of Polaroid pictures. It’s full of suspense, and you can’t really pretend how it ends (or, since the movie moves backwards, maybe that should be begins?). It was Guy Pearce’s breakthrough role.

And it wouldn’t work at all today. We have iPhones that can take pictures, record sounds, and take notes. Video cameras and computerized dictation would also help. The amnesiac in Memento could have a really good recording of what had happened.

With that, by way of Joel’s Hindbrain, I bring you this funny video that deals with this theme:

Comments

  1. #1 Louis
    October 21, 2010

    I really like this idea that modern media is being almost ruined by even more modern media. But examples like “The Usual Suspects” make you realize how much more thrilling life seems to be without that kind of media. We all rely too much on our technology, and although it helps us in some aspects, like busting a crime, it really takes away from the human initiative that we once had. Instead of getting out your dictionary and going on an adventure to find the definition of a word, the answer is only a few taps of the buttons away. We all know that life in movies is unrealistic, but that’s the thrill of the cinema. Living the life that is improbable, impossible and ultimately fascinating. They tell you at the beginning of every film, turn your cell phones, pagers, etc. off. Why? Technology ruins the not just the viewing experience, but the movie itself.

  2. #2 Hypocee
    October 21, 2010

    I forget whether it was King or another leading light who noted that cell phones destroy almost every horror plot ever.

  3. #3 DaisyDeadhead
    October 21, 2010

    In the Woody Allen movie, “Play it again Sam”–Tony Roberts spends most of the movie on the phone–in a running gag of sorts: He arrives at someone’s house or at a business, asks to use the phone, tells his answering service where he is and for how long, leaves phone numbers where he can be reached “for the next ten minutes.” In the 70s, it was hilarious… and made the additional point that the Roberts character (married to Diane Keaton in the movie) was a self-centered, narcissistic ass. Thus, we are sympathetic when Keaton sleeps with Woody.

    Now? It isn’t all that funny, and in fact, it seems somewhat strange to us that Keaton gets so upset and rolls her eyes all the time at his behavior… we have all grown so used to it. OF COURSE he wants people to know where he is for the next ten minutes, something important might happen. (And being on the phone all the time? These days, we ALL know someone like that.)

    What was regarded as rude, narcissistic-ass behavior in the 70s, worthy of open ridicule, is now commonplace. I find that disturbing, and wonder what it means about our common culture.

  4. #4 william e emba
    October 22, 2010

    What was regarded as rude, narcissistic-ass behavior in the 70s, worthy of open ridicule, is now commonplace. I find that disturbing, and wonder what it means about our common culture.

    I don’t have a cell phone. Heck, I don’t have a land-line either. I thought the Tony Roberts character was rude and all that way back then, and yes, I think most cell-phone users are too.

  5. #5 peter
    October 22, 2010

    I agree cell phones (people that use them) can be a pain when abused.

    But how many people do you know that don’t have one? And frankly, it’s annoying to try to get in touch with the lone friend who has no phone. You stop by his house and he’s not there. You can’t call him… It makes it difficult to stay in touch.

    Computers add a tremendous amount of versatility to our lives if we use them correctly. Yeah, if all you do is sit around and play games on facebook, then it’s a waste of time.

    But the ability to learn about almost anything online has advantages that I cannot imagine living without.

    If I had to go back to pre-cell phone and pre-PC days, I could; but I’d rather not even think about it.

  6. #6 edivimo
    October 23, 2010

    The same thing happens with “Ender’s game” of Orson Scott Card, spoiler alert:

    The way Endr’s brother rise to power is so silly in the modern internet era of the blogs. Xkcd takes note of that anachronism.

  7. #7 ross
    October 27, 2010

    I agree that new technology is making some movies obsolete. There is technology out there that can solve problems that are addressed in some movies, such as long-term memory loss. Cell phones can make many movies, especially horror movies, make no sense and they ruin movies as you can use them for many different purposes.

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