Simon, Kable, and Donna Haraway’s Cyborg

In her essay “A Manifesto for Cyborgs,” Donna Haraway describes a cyborg as “a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.” The film Gamer manages to portray both of these and puts them in stark contrast to each other.

Kable, obviously, is the cyborg of the future, along with Angie and Castle. Each of these characters has been implanted with technology that has changed the structure and function of their brain, giving them the post-human quality of being able to receive or transmit virtual data.

The other cyborg is Simon. Simon is “a creature of social reality” of the film’s timeline and of today. There are only a few shots of him in which computer technology does not also appear. Almost every interaction he has throughout the film is virtual. His function in the film, as the gamer, is based on his relationship with technology.

 But Simon, importantly, is in control. His mind exists free from his technology, despite the influence it may have on his thoughts and choices. Throughout the film, Kable is trapped by the technology in his brain, and in the end, the technology that Castle has chosen to implant himself with turns out to be his downfall.

During the final confrontation on the basketball court, the audience knows that Kable is not going to kill his daughter. After eighty minutes of getting exactly what’s expected, it’s clear that Kable is going to win.

But Kable cannot win, because Kable is not in control. His humanity cannot beat his technology. It isn’t possible.

Enter the gamer.

Up until this point, Simon is a wild card. It’s obvious that he feels that he has some sort of relationship with Kable—he refuses to sell Kable’s account for a substantial amount of money without appearing to even think about it, and later tells Kable that he’s “different” from the other “death row psychos” in Slayers. He chooses to speak to Kable when he has the chance, and he remains unnervingly calm when being questioned about Kable’s escape. Despite these things, he’s generally unlikeable—he’s selfish, privileged, rude, and has presumably murdered dozens of people through the virtual interface of Slayers.  

But when push comes to shove, when he has the choice to remain passive and do nothing or save an innocent child’s life, he chooses the latter. He takes control and does what Kable cannot. For a moment, the viewer can think that Kable has overridden his orders and he has slammed the knife down of his own accord, but it is soon established that Simon is behind the motion. This is almost disappointing. In other sci-fi movies of this sort, beating the programming is usually possible. The audience wants to think that Kable’s humanity is greater than the technology in his brain, and it’s almost disappointing to hear that Simon is behind his heroic action.

This moment shows the difference, in the film’s world, between the gamer and the true, biologically altered cyborg. Kable, despite obviously not wanting to murder his daughter, cannot stop himself. Simon, who has a questionable moral compass but control over his own mind, can stop him.

Simon is a cyborg who has not forgotten his humanity—Haraway’s cyborg of the present. Haraway’s essay encourages people, women in particular, to transcend oppression by embracing the notion of the cyborg; Gamer expresses that the cyborg, defined as any person living a life saturated with technology, has the ability to master that technology and use it in a way that best supports their own humanity. While the film initially appears to be a critique of technology, in the end it shows that technology can aid and guide, as long as humans remain in control.

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5 Responses to Simon, Kable, and Donna Haraway’s Cyborg

  1. Awesome take on the ending scene. I never considered the thought of Simon taking control of Kable one last time as “disappointing.” While I agree, it was expected (and almost hoped for) that Kable was able to beat the system by his own free will, it is quite eerie to think about the fact that the total opposite happened and that his actions, once again, were in the hands of someone on the outside.

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  2. blueshoes324 says:

    I enjoyed how you put the focus on Simon and illustrated his impact in the film. I guess I missed that connection between Simon and Kable in the final battle. I assumed that Simon was just looking in like the other members of society. I also liked how you took the narrative and placed a positive spin on it. It is easy to see the negatives of technology within the film but the positives are definitely more difficult. Thank you for your post!

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    • epiratequeen says:

      Thanks! 🙂 I wanted to write about Simon because I feel that he’s ignored in Shaviro’s essay despite being the pivotal character in the film. He is, after all, the only major character to whom the title “Gamer” really applies.
      The scene I’m referring to can be found here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy98nRmUkZs) around 8:19. After Kable wrenches the knife away from his daughter and goes to stab Castle, someone in the scene says “someone on the outside is giving him commands” and there’s an immediate cut to Simon, standing in the same stance that Kable is. I interpreted that as Simon controlling him.

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  3. elexiusmusick says:

    Ooh, I really like your analysis of Simon, and I agree with the description of him as “a creature of social reality.” I also agree with your take on the ending. I haven’t read through all of the posts yet, maybe half, but I think that so far, your bridge from Haraway to Gamer makes the most sense, and fully utilizes what she has said about technology as a tool that can be used for human betterment.

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  4. devilzadv0k8 says:

    I too enjoyed your take on the final scene. I really agree with your last sentence. I don’t think the film is trying to tell us anything about technology itself. It seems more focused on humanity. Technology is merely a tool to be used for good or evil. Thus we have both good and evil demonstrated through our characters. Simon and Gina seems to be our ambiguous characters both of whom surprise us by using technology for good, when they could just have easily done the opposite. To me, the film is more about the struggle for power than it is about technology.

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