Christina A. Pascucci – The Frankenstein Myth – Blog #2


In their article, “The Frankenstein Myth in Contemporary Cinema,” Rushing and Frentz discuss the Frankenstein monster as being basically the beginning of humans having a fear of technology taking over.  They talk about how a culture views technology often “emanate[s] from the literary and cinematic genre of science fiction” (Rushing & Frentz, pg. 61).  As technology becomes more and more human-like, humans become wearier of it taking over and making humans obsolete.  The authors mention “utopian fiction” and “dystopian fiction” as the two broad categories within the theme of “humanity versus the machine” when science fiction critics group works (Rushing & Frentz, pg. 62).  Using three films, Rocky IV, Blade Runner, and The Terminator, the authors discuss the dystopian shadow myth that expresses the subconscious fear that a culture has regarding technology.

It was interesting how media, such as the story of Frankenstein, could affect a society’s opinion of technology, even if repressed and unconscious.  I guess for these stories to be thought up, there must be some fear of technology or mechanization taking over.  “Critics generally recognize that this myth expresses a process of increasing mechanization of the human and humanization of the machine, a process moving toward an ultimate end in which the machine is god and the human is reduced either to slavery or obsolescence” (Rushing & Frentz, pg. 62).  This statement made me think of the movies I-Robot and Minority Report, which I have not seen either in quite a while, but basically I thought of them because technology was replacing many things that humans had previously done.  In I-Robot, basically everyone or every family has one of these robots to help them do things around the house and even work.  Little do the people know, the robots have actually learned to think for themselves and have intention of taking over within the society.  In Minority Report, in order to fight or really prevent crime, law enforcement is using technology and basically special humans who can see future and past events in order to detect pre-crime.  This technology is being trusted more than even the people who work for the law enforcement unit because it is saying that people will commit a crime, as opposed to already has, and not taking into account that people still have the choice not to commit the given crime.  This detection of pre-crime seemed to be replacing many areas of our justice system, including our guarantee of certain rights.

“Utopian fiction employs positive images of the robot as ‘the visible sign of the triumph of reason, the Enlightenment dream of human progress,’ is often set in the far distant future, is imaginatively speculative, and operates on the ‘open-system model’ of cybernetics in which animate and inanimate are not sharply differentiated and systems can transform themselves by exchanging energy, matter, and information with the environment” (as cited in Rushing & Frentz, pg. 62).  When the authors were talking about “utopian fiction,” I immediately started thinking about The Jetsons; although it is a cartoon, I felt it demonstrated this quite well.  In The Jetsons, they live in a highly technological society in the future (from what I recall), and their technology seems to help them in every way, even making simple things super efficient.  Like if you watch the opening sequence, getting the kids of to school and George Jetson getting to work is practically seamless due to the technology that is around them to help.

“Dystopian fiction creates foreboding images of the robot, regards the machine as a malevolent threat, extrapolates from and exaggerates present conditions in imagining the future, and operates on the ‘closed-system model’ of cybernetics in which the whole is the sum of its parts and equilibrium in a system occurs when maximum entropy is achieved” (Rushing & Frentz, pg. 62).     Also, when reading about dystopian fiction, I began thinking about War of the Worlds, although I know there is also the alien element within that story.  However, it was kind of interesting to think about that story along with the aliens because there was not just the fear of technology, but the fear that someone/thing else has been technology than us.  Another interesting aspect was that our technology was not defeating the aliens and their technology.  Instead, it came down to nature (disease that we had already overcome having lived on earth) that defeated the aliens, which made me then connect the parts of the reading about prometheanism with the discussion of masculine/patriarchal myth and feminine values/nature (Rushing & Frentz).   It was also interesting when the authors explained that “if the repressed feminine aspects of the dystopian tragedy could be consciously recognized, then the entelechial pattern that motivates the feminine principle might be able to redirect the movement of the shadow myth, and in doing so alter its evolution toward a more productive societal end” (Rushing & Frentz, pg. 65).

When reading this article, I thought about technology within my organization (Student Affairs/Residence Life) and how we are attempting to incorporate it into what we do more in order to make processes more effective, timely, and accessible.  For example, right now we are in the process of learning a new program which will make our Room Selection Process completely electronic beginning with our new first year students for the next academic year.  Our old process, which is still in effect for our returning students this year, is basically paper and pencil, students come on three room selection dates based on their lottery numbers and which types of rooms they applied for, they choose rooms which are displayed on a large screen, we write their room selections down on all of their applications, and then our department’s administrative assistants input all the information in the coming days.  With the new program, essentially students will be able to choose their rooms from their own computers at the time and date given, which will also cut down the amount of paperwork that needs to be followed up with afterward.  Everyone is very excited about this new process because it will save many a lot of time and I concur that it will be great, especially since Rider is pretty behind as far as making different processes electronic.  However, some (including myself) think that although these new programs will increase effectiveness, we might begin to lose that personal contact with students, which is oftentimes something that students and parents really like about this institution and others.

Discussion Questions:

I found the concept of the “shadow” and the “cultural shadow” to be confusing.  Can we discuss these concepts in class?

Why is the Frankenstein myth such a bad thing?  I see a lot of merit in it and agree with some of the intro of the article where it talks about technological progress growing “couch potatoes.”  Perhaps too much technology really will be a disadvantage for us; maybe it will not be in the form of robots taking over, but it might look more like the society as expressed in Disney’s Wall-E in which people no longer even walk, know any sort of history, or live on Earth because they have destroyed it.

I never studied psychology (except for what is within communication and leadership studies), so I did not understand much of the talk about that, like masculine and feminine archetypal principles and the psyche.  Can we discuss this portion of the reading a bit?

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