“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy” – Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) TRON
(Since I can’t link any original TRON content, here is a fan-made trailer)
Greetings, Programs! Last week, I mentioned my favorite line from the movie TRON. This week I figured I would do one of the more famous quotes from the movie – from three different angles!
The Philosophical Angle: Flynn goes from being a programmer designing video games into a virtual world where programs have personalities, and there is an entire society within the confines of the computer system. How do you look at the computer system that you work with in the same way after you have been inside of it? Is deleting a file actually killing someone sentient?
It’s interesting how a change in perspective makes a difference. I can tell you that I had no idea how far off I was on how moderation works around here. There are a lot more Dilbert moments than X-Files scenes with the Cigarette-Smoking Man. I’ll say that my opinion of academia has certainly changed after I got inside. It is even more ruthless than the average corporate office, and much more hierarchical. Older PIs often seem like ancient wizards or medieval nobles. Have you had moments that completely shifted your perspective?
The Theological Angle: Flynn creates a world, then goes into it, becoming all but indistinguishable from the beings that inhabit it. He is reduced to the lowest level, but his power is still evident. He sacrifices his life to save the world, but in the process is restored to his proper place. Sound familiar? The Christian narrative is so powerful that Hollywood can’t resist incorporating into stories, even if it is in a distorted way. Are there any other stories where the Christian imagery was present almost in spite of itself?
The Political Angle: There is no way this movie could be made today. Flynn is a relic from another era – the renegade programmer turned hacker, acting immature and flirtatious, brash and boastful. He’s from an era of tech that wouldn’t be recognizable in this modern era of digital safe spaces and walled garden run by social justice scolds. Even the age of the open Internet, where a techno-libertarian future seemed to open before us, is all but gone. Tech companies seem to have gone from geeks to the villains of a cyberpunk novel, with a bizarre unreal twist where people identifying as buildings and animals are welcome, but people identifying as with beliefs similar to half of America are not. Ironically, the sequel’s villain is not the supposed wickedly greedy CEO, but the system administration program out to create the perfect system. Any who deviate are destroyed or “rectified” into identical drones. It’s unintentionally a description of the modern vision of Big Tech. What do your think happened to the technology industry such that it