For anyone visiting this blog post that isn’t studying ‘Future Cultures’ at The University of Wollongong, this blog post is a compilation of tweets and reflections on the process of live tweeting as a part of a university subject. The subject focuses on the tensions between the representation and the realities of current and future digital cultures and the films and tv series that were live-tweeted all focused on dystopic futures, in which futuristic technology can be seen as chaotic or challenges societal perceptions. Through exploring these texts, they helped to inform my ideas for my Video Essay on the Evolution of Dystopia, which you can read about here.
The texts which were live-tweeted were as follows: ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (1995), Westworld (1973), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), The Matrix (1999), Black Mirror: S2 E1 ‘Be Right Back’ (2013), Robot and Frank (2012), Black Mirror: S3 E6 ‘Hated in the Nation’ (2016) and Blade Runner (1983). Looking back at the range of texts, they interestingly span four decades but still have many similarities and distinguish similar fears of pushing technology to extreme potential. Each tweet was accompanied by the hashtag #bcm325 to ensure the class could engage online through collectively compiling tweets which allowed for discussions and to see other points of interest.
Week One: ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (1995)
Being an anime film, this was quite daunting as the introduction to live tweeting. Having never seen an anime film before, tweeting, following the storyline of the film and actually being interested was quite a struggle. However, it did present some interesting ideas.
I initially started by posting tweets about my dislike of anime or the scenes presented on the screen but I then tried to think critically about the content. My tweet “Espionage and technology hacking is already a thing, not a future dystopia” which included a link to a news article on China’s economic cyber-espionage was one of the most well-received ones. I think this may be because the class was able to recognise the significance of the film and ‘The Puppet Master’ in our own society. One of the other tweets that sparked interest was “Is the idea of losing memory pointing out how dependent today’s society is on technology for knowledge? Don’t bother remembering math, science, history… just google it”. I think this was interesting because it allowed the class to reflect on their own dependency on technology and how the internet has become an intrinsic part of our society.
Slideshow: Compilation of tweets from February 28th 2018, screen-grabbed from my personal twitter @kristyyrenae
Week Two: Westworld (1973)
In week two, we live-tweeted about the 1973 film West World, which has more recently become a HBO series. Interestingly many of the films that were live-tweeted, have been remade, highlighting their profound and timeless natures.
This week, I included online facts about the film including “The film was a financial success, earning $4 million in rentals in the US and Canada by the end of 1973 becoming MGM’s biggest box office success of that year. After a re-release by 1976 it earned $7,365,000.” – Wikipedia (obviously reliable)”. I found that by adding this to the discussion, the class would be able to see how well it was received in its context.
I also retweeted @CL_Moore‘s tweet “Is shooting a robot in
#Westworld like shooting a character in a game? What if the robot doesn’t want to be shot at?”. I thought this was really interesting as video games with violence are often heavily debated in society and the comparison between the act of stimulating violence and actual violence highlights a lack of humanity.
Slideshow: Compilation of tweets from March 7th 2018, screen-grabbed from my personal twitter @kristyyrenae
Week Three: Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
In week three, we live-tweeted ‘Johnny Mnemonic’. One of the most liked tweets I posted from this week was “At least the movie didn’t reduce the role of females, love when directors include badass female roles”. I thought this was particularly important because, in the previous two weeks of live tweeting, females were irrelevant or reduced in their roles.
Another tweet which was liked, retweeted and replied to was “Is this hospital for people with technological problems the literal equivalent for a Genius Bar at the Apple store?”. I personally thought the hospital showed how easily we replace and discard our technology for new or improved versions, which has resulted in an exponential amount of E-waste.
I also found that my tweet “So he thinks technology causes society to decay but we keep it because we can’t live without it, can’t disagree completely but technology has also allowed for some amazing changes to society, this article on artificial hands explains how” which linked this article showed the contrast between our fears and hopes for technology and the disparity between it’s potential to be dangerous and potential to be benevolent.
Slideshow: Compilation of tweets from March 14th 2018, screen-grabbed from my personal twitter @kristyyrenae
Week Four: The Matrix (1999)
In week four, we live-tweeted the classic film, The Matrix. I think my greatest contribution to the live tweeting this week was highlighting the symbolism of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in the film. This can be seen in my tweets “The idea of Alice and Wonderland has been recurring, first the white rabbit and now the idea of feeling a bit like “feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole”” and “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”. In an age of technology, we must choose knowledge over ignorance.”
I think this idea was further reinforced by the tweet “Ignorance is bliss’ just emphasises the idea that we must choose knowledge over power in the age of technology.” As the allusion to Alice in Wonderland highlights the role of truth and knowledge in understanding and using technology.
I also thought @neil_fam‘s tweet “The Headjacks located on the base of the skull enables access into the Matrix/simulated reality. Our phones can be seen as ‘headjacks’. Although not built into us, they are basically an extension of ourselves and our access to the internet and cyberspace.” was really interesting and replied, “Except if you have an iPhone you’re not allowed to mess with the system like ‘The Matrix’ allows.”. I thought this was important to add to his tweet, as it shows the limitations of different technologies today and how in some cases, users are able to alter the potential of their devices.
Slideshow: Compilation of tweets from March 21st 2018, screen-grabbed from my personal twitter @kristyyrenae
Week Five: Black Mirror: S2 E1 ‘Be Right Back’ (2013)
In week five, we live-tweeted an episode of ‘Black Mirror’ which may or may not have lead me to a new series for binge-watching and procrastinating. The episode ‘Be Right Back’ looked at the extremities of artificial intelligence through a clone-like bot of the protagonist’s deceased boyfriend.
I found my first tweet “This episode had two sources of inspiration the question of whether to delete a dead friend’s phone number from one’s contacts, and the idea that Twitter posts could be made by software mimicking dead people” to be particularly important as it showed the relevance of the technology today. I also retweeted “As soon as she typed “pregnant”, I wonder if her Facebook feed got bombarded with baby ads? Is she really the one benefitted from this tech?” by @silent_claire. I thought this was really interesting because it shows the role of consumerism and online marketing in our current context.
Slideshow: Compilation of tweets from March 28th 2018, screen-grabbed from my personal twitter @kristyyrenae
Week Six: Robot and Frank (2012)
In week six, we live-tweeted the 2012 film ‘Robot and Frank’, which looks at the role of technology as a companion/ carer.
One of my tweets quoted the film stating “”I just feel guilty because at least I have feelings”, speaks mountains”. I found this line particularly profound, as it shows how in most cases technology lacks the understanding of human emotion, despite now being able to read it. I think this was further reiterated by the discussion as pictured below.
I think this discussion was good in emphasizing the role of the creator in technological advancements, which has been seen in many other dystopic texts over time including ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Blade Runner’.
Slideshow: Compilation of tweets from April 4th 2018, screen-grabbed from my personal twitter @kristyyrenae
Week Seven: Black Mirror: S3 E6 ‘Hated in the Nation’ (2016)
In week seven, we again were able to watch another episode of ‘Black Mirror’, thank god for some modern, binge-worthy content! This episode ‘Hated in the Nation’ looked at the role of bullying online as well as bot technology.
Through understanding the relevance of bot technology today I tweeted “Bots used to moderate online, often struggle with the linguistics and what to be looking for, these bots don’t seem to have the same problem”. This is because the accuracy of the bots in the episode seemed to contrast greatly from online bots which often struggle with linguistics as explored in this article. I also created a twitter poll as seen in the image below.
I thought this would be an interesting question to pose to the class, as it further develops upon the idea I had the previous week about the role of the creator in technological advancements. Interestingly, 40% of the votes blamed the creator, but more people were confused about the idea of responsibility. I also tweeted “Comparing an internet ban to North Korea highlights the idea of censorship in society and if we should or shouldn’t be censored in our opinions and beliefs, I definitely think that finding a balance between the two is one society greatest challenges” which received the most retweets of my live tweets in this week. I think this was important to highlight as in looking at North Korea, it is easy to see the disparity between fears of censorship and surveillance and security. This was further reiterated in an online discussion with @EzzyApples following her tweet “Surveillance is a double-edged sword, you don’t want to be surveyed, but if someone breaks into your property, you want to know who did it”.
Slideshow: Compilation of tweets from April 11th 2018, screen-grabbed from my personal twitter @kristyyrenae
Week Eight: Blade Runner (1983)
In the most recent class, we live-tweeted the film Blade Runner. I thought this was great, as I am also exploring this film for my video essay.
The class seemed to be very interested in the setting of the film and the lack of nature/ lighting. I contributed to this by highlighting “Blade Runner can be seen as a reflection of its zeitgeist through Scott’s use of film noir which was developed after WWII and took advantage of the post-war anxiety, pessimism, and suspicion” and also “I really think that the artificial world shows the concerns of rampant technology and society being disturbed by industrialism and consumerism, I guess Scott wasn’t too far off reality”. I think these two tweets added greater value to the understanding of the setting of the film as well as the meaning behind it.
Interestingly my most liked tweet was my final tweet for the class “Roy Batty dying to save Deckard’s life, despite him being a replicant, shows true humanity. By symbolically marking his death with the flight of a dove he can be seen as elevated to the status of a human being with a soul”. I think this is because the idea provides a sense of resolve for the conflicting ideas of humanity and technology in the film.
I also think that this tweet “Memories is a reoccurring theme in futuristic Sci Fi movies, history memory and the future. Signified by old photos” by @Chloeevic was very interesting and replied, “This just makes me think my memory is getting a whole lot worse because Google has always got my back.” I thought this was particularly insightful, as this is also an idea I explored in week one of live-tweeting looking at the dependency on technology and how the internet has become a part of the common sense way in which we understand and remember things. I think the fact that this idea is reoccurring in other films exemplifies the significance of the idea, as well as the significance of dystopian texts in reflecting on our own society.
Slideshow: Compilation of tweets from April 26th 2018, screen-grabbed from my personal twitter @kristyyrenae
Overall, I think live-tweeting was a great way to share ideas and allow for discussions around the relevance and significance of ‘Future Cultures’ and understanding technology. I look forward to further exploring some of these ideas, particularly the relevance of dystopian texts in my final video essay.