By: Aaron Franz
first posted Thurs. June 17, 2010
The transhumanists claim that popular culture portrays their ideas negatively. Killer robots, human-animal chimaeras, and evil humans who try to become god are all depicted in films. Because these things scare audiences it follows that Hollywood is not friendly toward transhumanism. This is a very shallow argument at best. The fact of the matter is that the method by which these story lines actually work leads audiences toward acceptance of advanced technologies. These topics are threatening to humans, that is why they have to be portrayed as horror, at least the first time around. Things are a bit more complex than the transhumanists let on.
As an example let's look at the Terminator series; did its theme simply revolve around a terrible killing machine whose prime directive was to destroy human beings? The answer is yes, if you watch the first Terminator film and no others, but who has done that? We all know that T2 was far more popular than the original. We know this in part from the many television specials created about that film. All of these programs repeatedly told us how cool this movie was, and who were we to disagree? But back to the point at hand, did T2 portray Ai in a negative way? Not at all. The hero character was an Ai robot for crying out loud! This was the same deadly robot that did indeed scare us years earlier, but this time we got to see its softer side. You cannot deny that there were many scenes depicting human/machine bonding, and the real effect that this had on the audience should not be ignored. You see, T2 was crafted with purpose, specifically to get the audience to bond with the Terminator. Remember the last scene of T2, the one where Arnold is dropped down into liquid hot metal? When you watched this did you cry, did you at the very least empathize with the machine? Of course you did. THAT WAS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE MOVIE! The following films in the Terminator series have continued on this theme. They have explored ways that the good qualities of Ai may triumph over the evil. The answer to bad Ai = good Ai. This is the message of the film, and of... transhumanists.
The Transformers series is very similar to this. It is a human/machine bonding film. It is a
story about a boy and his dog, uh, no wait, a boy and his robot. The Bumblebee character is the courageous and lovable companion to the boy. This is only one tiny example as these movies are riddled with more bonding techniques. The good and evil dynamic arises in this series as well. Sure, there are bad machines, but they are being fought by good ones. The good guy machines fight alongside our military. The only way to fight those bad machines is with good machines. This concept is seen everywhere.
The dialectic is being used in these films. Evil is always present, but so is good. This good and evil are both aspects of the advanced technologies in question. The conflict that arises in these films has to be solved, this is a simple problem of scriptwriting. You HAVE TO write a problem into the story. High-tech problems usually require high-tech solutions. Problem, reaction, solution. It is almost comical to see that the problem and the solution are actually the same thing when it comes down to it.
There is so much going on in these films that each individual case requires a long explanation. To say that these films are anti-transhumanist is just plain wrong. We have seen visions of the future through science fiction for our entire lives. The powerful visuals created by Hollywood Masters stick with us, and indeed effect our thoughts and expectations. Because of science fiction we want to jump on starships and explore the universe. If we are going to do this, then some very serious technology will have to be created. Fiction leads us forward. What must be realized here is that the act of "going forward" is profound and complex. There is no single way to do it. The choices that are possible are INFINITE. By presenting powerful visions of a future world through science fiction a deliberate persuasive force is established. The infinite is whittled down due to our expectations. It is exactly these expectations that Hollywood has been tasked with creating. Movie magic is used by the most powerful alchemists in our world to make their Will manifest. What is the nature of their will? That is for you to find out for yourself, but please don't be fooled by ridiculous claims that transhumanism is portrayed negatively by popular culture.
No, Hollywood is not against transhumanism. In fact, I would say that it is actually creating mass acceptance of transhuman "upgrades" one film at a time. Remember Bishop? The cyborg character from Aliens? Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) hated him at first, but at the end of the film he became the prototypical martyr. He courageously saved Ripley, the little girl, and a marine. James Cameron is certainly on board with transhumanists. Shouldn't you be thanking him at your "Summits" instead of pretending that he is doing you a disservice? I guess I'll leave you to thank him behind closed doors where its safe to drop the act.