Humanity vs Gamer

The one moment from Gamer which stood out to me was the elevator scene, where Terry Crews’ character, Hackman, violently murders two people at the urging of “Gorge”, the person controlling Angie, as well as the chase sequence which follows (through the rave). It’s not a pretty scene. In fact, it is disturbing, which is why it perfectly illustrates an underlying theme of the film: dehumanization.

The widespread nature of technology has caused people throughout the film to be ok with things that an average person today would (I seriously hope) find horrifying. In the scene, two people die. These people are never given a chance to flee and are killed with no regard for them and for no reason. Remember, these are the avatars that are dying, not the people controlling them. In the chase scene which follows, Kable and Angie attempt to hide in a rave filled with more people, and more people get shot as the followers, in the employ of either Castle or the government, attempt to hit Kable. Let me repeat that each one of these people died while being controlled by someone else. This is no accident in terms of the film, either, as these are also unnecessary to the plot. These characters don’t matter to the story, so there should be no reason to bother with this. That’s what makes this even more important and impactful. The filmmakers deliberately used this standard action movie chase scene to highlight this aspect of the society. But that scene is not alone. The spectators of “Slayers”, the players of either “Slayers” or “Society”, or practically anyone else in this world couldn’t care less about those on the other side of the monitor. To the players, the controlled people are not human.

This relates to Martin Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology”, and his description of the idea of “standing-reserve”. Standing-reserve refers to something to be ordered and used. Heidegger initially attributes it to technology, but as technology advances, what technology is in relation to humanity is more difficult to define. In the case of this movie dystopia, technology has superseded humanity in a way. With some people as standing-reserve, they essentially lose their humanity. Heidegger also states “As soon as what is unconcealed no longer concerns man even as object, but exclusively as standing-reserve, and man in the midst of objectlessness is nothing but the orderer of the standing-reserve, then he comes to the very brink of a precipitous fall.”

The reason this strikes a chord for me is that this dehumanizing of others is the result of technology. It doesn’t affect the players, nor does it affect the viewers. There is enough distance that it does not matter to them. They can shift their focus elsewhere. This bothers me because it sounds familiar. The internet has many positives, but its myriad of negatives include this sort of thing. The advent of widespread technology has resulted in it being a vehicle for such dehumanization.

Now, I don’t believe that the world will devolve into some sort of Death Race setting where “Slayers” is a celebrated event or even possible, but it does worry me that the current world shares societal similarities. But Gamer uses its narrative and its technology to demonstrate what that world would be like. And while the actual plot of Gamer may be clichéd, it is the perfect method for demonstrating this dystopia in all its glory, or lack thereof.

In terms of a film, I can’t really say I enjoyed Gamer. It was far from bad, as it delivered on its points quite clearly and perfectly. When the filmmakers wanted the viewer to feel uncomfortable, the film did so. When they wanted to demonstrate a point, the film did so. And these points are in fact worth discussing. Is it a movie that I will actively watch again? Probably not.

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6 Responses to Humanity vs Gamer

  1. estraussman says:

    I feel like this dehumanization is already taking place in almost full force. Many speculate that the reason internet porn has exploded is because there is such a disconnect from the watcher to the pornstar. A recent article in Wire regarding cyber-bullying tipped the edge for me. The author interviewed many kids who felt such a disconnect from their victims had no remorse when they learned their victims killed themselves.


  2. cjc112 says:

    You make a very valid point. Today’s internet does have a dehumanizing element that is somewhat similar to this dystopian society presented in the film. Much like Gorge and Simon are able to hide behind avatars, we can hide behind usernames. This allows us to separate ourselves from human feeling of empathy. We can say whatever we want to whoever we want, and the Internet is there to provide a cushion from the feelings of others. As technology advances further, its only seems like there will be a greater distance between our internet presence and human emotion. This leaves us with the question of how do we stay in touch with humanity and apply technology as a way to benefit society, rather than deconstruct it.


  3. exelsisxax says:

    I wonder why you view Slayers and Society as being the dehumanizing force. If the nanex technology was available to us today I would be surprised if there was NOT something like each of them, though the analogue to slayers would likely be illegal(in civilized countries… like finland.) What about those particular types of interactions are uniquely damaging to empathy, rather than merely a lodestone for those already rendered psychopathic by the sorts of things that american society engages in this very day? Could you really say that slayers is dehumanizing, but the american penal system is very humane and treats everyone as if they were human beings?


  4. epiratequeen says:

    I agree that dehumanization is a concept that the film touched on, especially with regard to Angie. This is especially on point as it relates to the world today–the anonymity of the Internet is a vehicle for the kind of cruelty that most people would not dare express in “real life.” People have committed suicide, have literally died, because of this cruelty and dehumanization. The in-movie game Society takes this to the extreme. Players can dehumanize their own avatars as well as those of other players without any apparent consequences. This is a disturbing take on an issue that is already seen in modern technology.


  5. zucconi says:

    I sort of agree and disagree with your point on how the modern use of the internet is a “vehicle for such dehumanization”. Many internet users hide behind the distance and anonymity that the internet gives them. They say and do many things they wouldn’t if they were face to face with other users or if their name/identity was attached to their comment. I find that the internet acts as a gateway for humans to let out their darker side. I wouldn’t really consider this dehumanizing since we are expressing the darker side of our humanity. However, there are certainly ways that the internet allows for dehumanization or enframing of man. For example, social media reduces you to what you contribute to the “feed”. While this isn’t as drastic as being controlled in a fight to the death, the user is being treated just as a standing reserve.


  6. shupp1217 says:

    I agree with zucconi in some ways. I believe that technology in reality, such as the computer, cellphone, and the internet for example are creating a slight sense of dehumanization. This is evident in the way some people like to use their devices more then really care about interacting with other people. Lots of people show no care for others in a way. In other instances, I have repeatedly heard people remark that they “hate people”, but who knows if it is just a joke or truth.


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