Our Loss of Free Will, as Predicted by Gamer

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.

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5 Responses to Our Loss of Free Will, as Predicted by Gamer

  1. elexiusmusick says:

    Something I find interesting is that you’re actually describing two entirely different scenes spaced about forty-odd minutes apart, but that to your memory, they’re from the same scene. The first scene begins with Nika standing in a pink bunny outfit; she is groped by the Pig-Man. In the second scene (occurring around the 49 minute mark), Gorge selects her clothing and sets her on the path to meet Rick Rape. Totally different scenes. But to a viewer not specifically looking for this analytical feminist content, the second one could easily be a continuation of the first.

    I feel that, based on this and only in this instance, the context of both scenes has been lost. My understanding of each scene is entirely subjective and indicative of my own viewpoints on society and feminism, but I would argue that there certainly is MORE to each scene than the overt sexuality displayed within them, and that in focusing on just the sexuality in both, you are making a wonderful point: the average male viewer may be enticed by the idea of utilizing Nika (which I actually have no problem with–consensual non-consent is still consensual), but if they are, are they going to be able to think analytically about the context of the scenes? I’m not convinced that you did, and that strengthens various arguments I’ve been making, and that I’ve seen other people on here make.

    I’m also not convinced that the quote from “Post-Cinematic Affect” is referring specifically to just the sexualization of women, since that is only a small part of the message behind Gamer.

    I wrote a bunch more stuff but took it out; I feel like I was writing too much about feminism without directly relating it to Gamer. Overall, I found your post to be interesting, and there is a lot that would make for good discussion.

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    • larsondanger says:

      This is the clip I found online, is this two scenes meshed together or one scene?

      If this is actually two scenes meshed together, your argument probably stands, though I don’t agree with your “consensual non-consent is still consensual” bit. But I think that is a another separate discussion.

      And to clarify, I used that quote from Post-Cinematic Affect to refer to the oversexualization and loss of free will. I tried to use it early in my post to apply broadly to both. Is this what you were getting at? If not, why don’t you agree?

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      • elexiusmusick says:

        I double-checked the video and yeah, it’s two scenes. Just keep an eye on her outfit–when he selects her, he chooses the blue hotpants and fur jacket; when she’s being groped by the pig-man, she’s wearing silver hotpants and a pink bunny outfit.

        As for Post Cinematic Affect, I was referring specifically to when you question the quote and then tie it to: “Sure, over sexualization 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?” And then the bit about Victoria’s Secret models.

        So yeah, the quote can definitely be applied to other things (and should be, in my opinion), but in this blog post, it has only been applied to the sexualization and objectification of women.

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  2. Steph Roman says:

    Your observations in the first part of the post are extremely precise and I love reading about the various class feminists’ take on the hypersexuality. It’s more or less safe to say that American advertising is built predominantly on sex. I lose you a bit when you try to branch out, though. I could simply be reading it differently (that’s the point of interpretation), but I don’t find the first half of the argument to be mutually conclusive with the second part, about humans losing free will. I would like to see a stronger connection between the two, thinking about how power functions and what it means when corporations/ individuals hold the power and how that affects the woman or cyborg and how that power dynamic causes humans to lose free will (or something). But I’m much more interested in hearing more about the kinds of meaning we can derive from the distortions that the hypersexuality provides.

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    • larsondanger says:

      Okay, how do you think I could make the connection stronger? I am convinced this movie says /something/ about humans losing their free will.

      And yes, I’d love to discuss the implications of the hypersexuality

      Like

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