Control and the Power of Enframing

It is well known that we have enframed natural resources as standing reserves. We look at them as what use they have to us and not what they simply are. We even look at each other as a standing reserve, asking what they can do for us. As the increase in technology has expanded exponentially, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s movie Gamer shows how we are moving to a more extreme view of human as a standing reserve.

Enframing, as conceived by Martin Heidegger in “The Question Concerning Technology,” deals greatly with power and control. Looking at Gamer, it is obvious that Ken Castle has complete control and power over the characters in the two games Society and Slayers. The characters are controlled by the flip of a switch just like we might turn on or off lights.

The idea that Kable and other video game characters were the only ones being enframed is somewhat of a shallow analysis. On a larger scale, Castle uses his technology to enframe gamers as well. Players are nearly as dependent on the games Society and Slayer as the characters are themselves; each have a specific dedication and role in the gaming world, only being separated by which side of the money stream they are on.

The directors make a point to exaggerate the role that technology will play in our lives in ten years, but at the same show the extent to which we depend on it. All of Simon’s communication seems to be conducted through various forms of technology. All of Kable’s interactions with Simon and with others in Slayers are dependent on the technology that is implanted in his brain. Additionally, each of the Society characters has this technology that controls them too, which makes them wait on each gamers move.

Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor and Martin Heidegger make very similar arguments that technology disrupts the world, similarly to how a dam stops up a river to fuel a hydroelectric plant. A few specific moments of disruption can be seen in Gamer. Taking disruption literally, there is a lag time between both the gamer and the video game character, which disrupts the characters ability to flawlessly execute the gamer’s control. On a much deeper level, technology has become so involved in Kable’s life that it disrupts him from being a human and instead a machine. Like characters in Society, he has no control over basic human functions like talking or movement. He cannot continue to grow and develop as a member of society. His life is only a resource of entertainment to Simon and all of the viewers of the tournaments.

It’s scary to think that we can be considered a standing reserve to our technological counterparts when we are the ones who believe we have control over it. We’ve come a long way in terms of enframing our surroundings. Even if we only look at people today as what their job is and what role they play in our life, it’s unnerving to think that at some point people could be used just like another natural resource.







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One Response to Control and the Power of Enframing

  1. Steph Roman says:

    Thank you for pointing towards the lag–the ping–that delays the flow of information. It “disrupts” Kable’s humanity/ mechanics. So it is unnerving, but what are the implications of that? Humans are already standing reserve, though not in the same way as Kable. Is Kable an allegory of something else? You mention that all Kable is is a source of entertainment. I wonder if that could be construed as a metaphor.


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