Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Anonymous comments:

And, of course, for all the Terminator movies' surface level fatalism: it's working. The robopocalypse keeps getting pushed further and further into the future.
On the most recent Terminator related post.

It's an understandable read. Though it begs the question whether "delaying the robot apocalypse" a few years is a victory of gradually pushing back the darkness, or the failure of never fully saving humanity.

This seems a misreading of the Terminator films though, or at least an underestimation of them. Time travel in these movies (and in most American time travel movies) is a metaphor by which the "future" is actually the flip side of our present day. The apocalyptic future is always an exaggeration of the underbelly by which our society really functions.

Image result for terminator skeleton

Hell, the cyberskeleton generic footsoldier of Skynet is much less about "the ideal fighting force in the future" and more "what we dread under our own skin, modified by the technology we see every day."

In Terminator 1, the hero is a homeless vet, who experiences this future as flashbacks to a terrible guerilla war he never escaped. This is some obvious Vietnam imagery, which America was still dealing with at the time. (In fact the funniest logic of the Terminator movies is that Kyle Reese greatly exaggerated the skeletal, nightmarish nature of our robot enemies, and when AI later launched, they saw the police records of his interrogation, and concluded "Oh, I guess this is what we must do then.")

Terminator 2 has Sarah Connor seeing the nuclear apocalypse as going on right now, and it is a constant taint that ruins her ability to healthily trust in the present world. The way to fight it is by blowing up capitalist corporations right now.

Terminator 3 advanced the apocalypse to its present year, and showed it to be a result of bureaucratic-consumerist pressures that prioritize success and convenience over safety. There was no hope to stop it, the only choice was to start the resistance right now.

And Terminator Genisys now sees the apocalypse as part of the social media/mobile tech revolution, that integrates everything into a sleek CGI corporation that flows seamlessly from "looking like your friend" to "creepy phantasm child who promises you the world." As always, the choice to defeat Skynet "in the future" is the choice to defy a capitalist corporation right now.

The point is, there is no "future" war. There is a war between inhuman capitalism and human civilization right now. As Sarah Connor says at the end of T2 "There is no fate but we make for ourselves" and you can instantiate that in the present moment.

Even from a purely cynical perspective this is easy to understand. We are not capable of imagining what the future will be like. And time travel is (probably) impossible. All we can do is extrapolate anxieties about our present situation into fantastic terms, and set up a war between our "normal" life presently, with that dark underbelly of what we in the present day fear most.

(Same of course with aliens, who are usually "humanity, modified with a social change that is ideologically resonant to what political battles we are fighting now.")

No comments:

Post a Comment