In this week’s reading The Frankenstein Myth in Contemporary Cinema, authors Janice Hocker Rushing and Thomas S. Frentz examine three movies, Rocky IV, Blade Runner, and The Terminator to explore the idea of “an evolving dystopian shadow myth that expresses repressed fears the culture has about its relations to technology”, (Rushing & Frentz, 1989, p. 61). This idea of dystopian fiction in which life if depicted as extremely bad, seems to exaggerate how things really are. It operates on what the authors call the “closed system model” of cybernetics, or one “in which the whole is the sum of its parts and equilibrium in a system occurs when maximum entropy is achieved”, (Rushing & Frentz, 1989, p.62).
The authors suggest that although humans create technology to make our lives better or easier, there is a sense that what we create with optimism somehow works against us. “Man intellectually and emotionally rejects electric technology at the same time that he increasingly comes to rely on it”, (Rushing & Frentz, 1989, p.62). As in Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein there is a fear that the being that was created through technology will be harmful.
The authors suggest however, that although this idea is mythical there are some implications that the social side of it is an issue in the cultural context. They use the cinema to explain this.
I found their ideas of how Rocky IV relates to the creation of technology to be most interesting. The movie shows how two countries differ on their views of what signifies technology.
In America, the idea of technology is created through the use of outward things such as television, computers, and household robots. “Technology accomplished the transformation of humans quite differently in the United States than it does in Russia. In America, technology is primarily for “recreative” pleasure”, (Rushing & Frentz, 1989, p. 66). It is clear that in Russia their idea of technology is through the creation of a human wrecking machine. One who’s mission is the destroy his opponent.
Although there are two different views on the function of technology and it’s purpose in American and Russia, they seem to have one constant, that is they both neglect to see how it has worked against them. Rocky has lost his good friend Apollo Creed to the hands of the Russian machine who ultimately looses the battle in the end. These characters don’t seem to realize to what extent technology has made them forget who they really are. “Technology, then, allows us to ignore our own works. It is license to forget”, (Rushing & Frentz, 1989, p. 67).
Growing up I loved to watch the series of Rocky movies, in fact Sylvester Stalone is one of my all time favorite actors. I had always looked at them as just entertainment and never from the view of how they relate to technology. After reading this weeks article and seeing the views of technology through the author’s eyes of the Frankensten Myth, I have been given another insight on what the underlying message of the movies is all about. Thus leaving me with the following questions.
1. Is technology in this sense really a means to an end?
2. Is the advancement of technology essentially enabling us to forget what we know as we become more dependent on it?
3. In reality does technology create a dystopian society?