But where danger is, grows the saving power also.

In The Question Concerning Technology, one of the least detailed points that Heidegger covered was that while technology is dangerously used to enframe, it also has the power to “save.” He interpreted Hölderlin’s quote to mean that enframing is destined to, at some point, actually reveal the truth. Gamer certainly shows the danger in viewing humans as standing reserve in gory detail, and quite obviously forces the viewer to examine the ethics of this practice. Therefore, in contrast, the scene showing the saving power of technology is the one in which ethics don’t play a part at all.

This scene is the one in which the leader of “humanz” contacts Simon directly and talks him into giving Kable freedom. In my opinion, Neveldine/Taylor intentionally make this interaction feel incongruous with the rest of the movie’s “all of this is so wrong” mentality. If you recall, the leader just tells Simon that he has to set Kable free in order to win the game.


No moral argument? No guilt-tripping this obviously wealthy, uncaring 17-year-old? No showing him exactly what he’s doing in a grotesque fashion, like the rest of the entire movie does? This could be the most important moment of Kable’s life, and the leader of a group calling themselves humanz isn’t going to make an ethical statement about practically enslaving another human being?

I’m obviously dramatizing, but this scene was honestly baffling to me at the time. After some consideration, my conclusion is that the directors wanted to convey that Simon was so immersed in this reality of controlling people that the moral argument wouldn’t affect him at all. He would probably say, “so what?” However, the cold statement “this is the only way for you to win the game” is what is shown to cause him to set Kable free. (Additionally, later on when he takes control of Kable to kill Ken Castle, there’s no concrete indication that he’s doing it for moral reasons, it could just be another game to him.)

Stepping away from Simon’s mental issues, this scene clearly shows Heidegger’s suggestion of a saving power within the danger of technology. Although this dystopian world has progressed as far as to completely dehumanize people to standing reserves of entertainment, Simon’s enframing of his slayer is what allows him to set Kable free, and assigns truth to Hölderlin’s words. Heidegger’s interpretation of “saving” to mean “uncovering the truth” also holds true in Gamer, as Simon’s decision to save Kable ultimately sets the events in motion that showed the true nature of “Society” and “Slayer” to the world.

This scene also shows another layer to the depth of enframing occurring within this society. Even the leader of “humanz” falls prey to this trap of dehumanizing people. When he tells Simon to set Kable free to win the game, he just views him as a means to an end, specifically as just a tool to get Kable free so that he can start a revolution. I assume that a moral argument wouldn’t have swayed Simon at all, but it still should have been made. If the leader of “humanz” had cared about Simon as a person at all, he would have tried to educate him, to better him as a human being. Instead, he just says whatever he believes will manipulate Simon into doing what he wants him to, with no regard to the consequences that Simon could (and did) have to face. However, it is this heartless manipulation that leads to the freeing of society, and so Heidegger’s theory is showcased once again.

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4 Responses to But where danger is, grows the saving power also.

  1. zucconi says:

    To me, it wasn’t clear if Simon actually had full control over Cable. It seemed that Castle had the ultimate control over Cable and Simon was just able to get a burst of control through some kind of hacked signal. It was more prominent to me that Cable found a loophole by getting Castle to think about being stabbed. Therefore, Cable was able to save himself through the technology rather than Simon doing it for him. Potentially, it could have been a combination of Simon’s control and Cable’s loophole that finished off Castle. Either way, the Nanex was still used to save not only Cable but the rest of humanity since Cable convinced Castle’s computer scientists to shut everything down, setting everyone free.


  2. tanuvein says:

    Humanz never struck me as overly concerned with the morality issue so much as their success. We don’t see much development of motivation for the Humanz characters but they seem anarchic in nature and it’s easy to see them only caring about the success of Kable – or, just as likely, they saw that approach as the quickest way to deal with Simon. Likely, they don’t think a moral argument would phase him, either, considering it’s not as if he’s watching pixellated versions of his icon killing people, it’s perfectly clear he’s watching a video recording of his murders. If that doesn’t phase him (which it didn’t, we saw with the police officer), then any normative argument would go over his head.


  3. thawardasa says:

    I agree with you that Simon had mental problems for sure, but he’s not the only one who had issues. We didn’t see one sane “controller,” honestly. In my opinion, anyone who really wants to control other people and can do it willingly has something wrong with them, and the same thing for anyone who would willingly want to be controlled for money. There are mental, social, and psychological issues with both parties doing what they are doing in Gamer.


  4. danwillisdan says:

    First of all, I applaud you for taking on the gargantuan task of using the Heidegger as a point of reference. And I agree that ‘Humanz’ were more of a plot device than an actual morally consistent activism group. But perhaps they knew that a freed Kable was particularly willing and able to assassinate Ken Castle and disable the Nanite technology, especially if they could use his estranged family as incentive, but that they had to include Simon in the plot or he would begin to ask questions? Also, I think that Humanz understand the strategic advantages of enframing and were just taking an ‘all’s well that ends well’ approach to their hypocrisy.

    Liked by 1 person

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