The Technology Character in Popular Culture

By: Elizabeth M.

I recently watched a movie where the computer character is revealed to be the mastermind behind the evil plan, and it made think of how often technology is portrayed as the evil character in stories. With technology being such an important factor in our society today, why have we made technology into the bad guy?


There is an awareness that as we continue to develop technology, it could grow beyond our power. There are such storylines as robots, computers. As was described in the movie we watched in class Digital Nation, technology has become such that the military doesn’t even need to send fighter pilots into war zones anymore. They can control these seeker planes from the comfort of a base that is thousands of miles away from the fighting. A lot of the technology that we have created has started to take on the role of a conscious program. Robots and machines are being created to make tasks easier for us, or they are replacing people altogether. One of the articles we read Practices of Looking talks of photorealism and how images create emotions because we perceive them as truth. One of the common points of an evil machine is the red eye. It has been seen in the Terminator series, The Master Control Program in TRON, and many other movies. This use of color, especially the color red, has created the idea that it is a negative color.

Another way to look at how machines are seen in evil is that they have influence what people are seeing or hearing from the media. Much like in the ideas of the article the Mass Media and the Public Sphere people are fed the information they want to see based on where they choose to get their information. One of the main points of the “evil machine” is that they change the information or hide the truth based on their directive, until it is revealed by the protagonist. In media no image comes without a meaning and from a message comes a reaction and a general consensus of how people should feel, so when a meaning is edited as we use machines to do now, its context is construed to create a connection within the audience. By using the machine character as that whch takes the human right of truth away it becomes evil. Many of the machines, though conscious, are still programmed to follow out their orders no matter the cost.  This can be seen in the idea of borgs and how they are programmed to do what we need then too/ To be what we cannot. The Bitch magazine article goes into how feminine looking robots are used to be the perfect model of women, and many of the discussions in class looked at the image of men in robot form. They are all working towards the common goal without thought and are unknowing to the destruction.

The growth of technology has become so great that it has caused people to look at them and see that it could soon turn into a negative aspect of our society. If we loose our ability to think and react, and leave it all to machines then we may very well become listless and loose our power to the machines we have created.  Technology can be the bad guy because so far it does not feel only reacts to making sure that it follows its orders perfectly. It is a common trait that the bad guy is misunderstood, and that holds true with technology as we are still developing its influence.

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