I didn’t pay much attention to it the first time, in class, but it caught my attention the second time around, when I was watching clips of Gamer on YouTube. There’s this scene, about two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through if I remember, where the big, gross, sweaty gamer updates his character. Nika, Kable’s wife, is his character, and in the scene, he is seen lounging in his reclining chair, eating a hamburger, and making motions with his hands to control the several screens in front of him. He swipes left and right, trying on various outfits for Nika, until he selects a properly scandalous one; when he is finished with her, Nika is wearing blue booty shorts, no bra, and a cropped and open fur coat. She also has orange hair. A voice on the screen says then, “Link activated,” and the gamer smiles hungrily. Then, he leans back all the way in chair and takes a deep breath from his oxygen tank.
The camera shot cuts to Society, then, where Nika is now amidst the other avatars. It pans and swoops frantically, causing the viewer to take in all of the rampant sexuality of the place. The camera closes in on several womens’ bodies and a lesbian couple groping each other. Nika finds herself confronted by young man, then, wearing a pig nose over his own. The gamer speaks for Nika and soon the young man is groping her. almost fingering her vagina, before the camera cuts away.
As a straight male, I was enticed by this scene. As a feminist, I was disgusted. In his essay, “Post Cinematic Affect,” Steven Shaviro says that the exaggerations of the film speak, to a degree, the state of our present society:
“Precisely because of it’s exaggerations and fun house distortions, it says more about the world we live in today than any other recent American film I’ve seen.”
Is this really true? Sure, over sexualiaztion of women is rampant and how many American corporations peddle their products, but is it to the extent that women no longer have any voice of their own at all? To some extent, I am sure all viewers and masturbators understand that the Victoria’s Secret models are someone’s daughter and grandchild, and have their own wants, needs, and hopes. I fear though, that we don’t think of that enough.
In my mind, however, this squelching of the female voice raises a larger question, broader than what feminism can cover. If, in the movie Gamer, humans can be fully controlled in word and action, and Gamer speaks to our present society, does it follow that we, in our present society, are losing our free will? This applies to all humans, male and female.
This is the one thing that terrifies me about narratives set in the future; it seems that in all, in some form or another, that humans lose their free will to think, act, speak, and live as they choose. Perhaps this is all thanks to 1984, but is there some truth to it at all? If so many authors, filmmakers, and game developers envision the future as a loss of free will, does that mean that we’re starting to lose our free will now?
Right now, in 2014, in what ways are we being controlled like the avatars in Society? Sure, marketing executives try to control us as consumers, but we still control our own money. What about our government, as George Orwell feared? Are they controlling us? What about “cultural norms” and “social acceptability”? Is that what we’re seeing now, perhaps? Are those controlling us? What about in Gamer, where man controls man? Is that where we’re heading?
In his essay “The Sense of an Ending,” Frank Kermode writes extensively on how man uses apocalypse to make up an ending for himself; man cannot foresee his death, so he must instead find a way to end his own personal narrative. This may be convenient for some, but apocalypses are often far-fetched and fanciful. What does an apocalypse look like anyways? Does everyone have to die all at once? Is death even required? What else could go into an apocalypse?
If in fact Gamer predicts our future society, maybe that in itself is our apocalypse; maybe our total loss of self control will be our ending.