Professor Mac Ilvaine
25 October 2018
How Far will Technology Take Society?
According to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981), Escape from L.A. (1996), and Marco Brambilla’s Demolition Man (1993), the directors explore the possible scenarios of what either a dystopian or utopian society looks like to advocate the potential threat that technology has on these polar societies. Their purpose is to warn future generations of the risk that they could possibly have. The path in which technology advances will pave the fate of society.
Carpenter’s film entitled Escape From New York (1981), which showed a dystopian society, where New York became a home for these criminals. It illustrates how chaotic the streets have become when these bloodthirsty prisoners are left in control. The protagonist Snake Plissken who is a hero turned criminal soon realizes that there’s no hope for heroism in America. The task Plissken was assigned would prove the lack of humanity left and what measures the law enforcement would take to get what they wanted. As we progress in the era of technology, one can see how this film displays them and how the same concepts are used today. But will this technology take us far enough to be left in a dystopian society? It practically shapes today and how we progress as a whole. How would the world be different if we didn’t have it, possibly technology might have saved us from moving towards that point. Think about what one would do if none of it existed, we would be left with absolutely nothing. The film wouldn’t have ended the way it did if there weren’t some type of technological guidance. Furthermore in reality technology is the base of everything, it doesn’t have to be an electronic device. It can be a skill set one has, or even just your common sense. Technology might help future generations stray away from a dystopian society. In several films, one can see that a society that has “gone wrong” usually doesn’t have advanced technology, other than that being weapons.
Carpenter’s film, Escape From L.A. 1998, which explores the where all the undesirable or unfit live. It becomes evident that technology plays a huge role in the first film and also the sequel. The parallelism within both films from the fighting cages to the technology that Snake Plissken uses demonstrates how dangerous technology can be and why Plissken decided to push the button that eliminates it all. The land of the free seems to be way far from what it claims to be. The power that technology has also come with responsibility and when in the wrong hands can be lethal. When it came to Plissken being able to change the faith of humanity through a push of a button the only ones who had a problem with that decisions were the ones abusing its power (the government). Erasing all trace of technology might have been the best choice for everyone, the world was already in chaos might as well start with nothing and rebuild a place with equality. They claimed it was hard work to get where they were but was it actually, technology gave them the resources needed to create their position of power. According to Nate Bradford’s article entitled “Technology: Utopia or Dystopia?” (2016), “Technology is beneficial to society since it is essential to society. Without technology, society as we know it wouldn’t exist. Technology is harmful only in that it is used in a harmful manner. Technology itself is not harmful.” (Bradford). One must put into perspective that technology is made to look destructive but in actuality, all fault falls upon the user. The 21st is an accurate representation of it being misused, from the dark web to use of weapons. Also, your status does play a role in these films, most of the more advanced tech is being held by officials. If the economic status does have an impact of the quality and how advanced the technology is then they will always have the upper hand. Using technology to continue to restrain the citizens is what keeps the dystopian society going.
Brambilla’s film, which explores a utopian society and follows the downfall of it. When thinking of what type of the society the future holds, it tends to lead either moving towards a utopian or dystopian society. Two total opposites, which would you choose an ideal paradise or a place where things have gone wrong? One can say that several would rather have a perfect place to live in rather than somewhere that is in complete chaos. And could there possibly ever be a balance of both? Why would anyone ever desire to live in a world that has, a utopian society seems to be the easy way out but is it really? In every scenario where humanity has progressed into a utopian society there always seems to be a negative side to it or some type of defect. Having to live life a certain way and have everything be perfect defeats the purpose of existence. Isn’t the sole function of humanity is to learn and make mistakes that help build one another. A utopian society is usually advance in personal care and overall everything being self reliant is useless, when living in a perfect world where everything is planned out. Another major factor in living in a utopian society is the physical restrictions one has. Being able to have the physical and emotional connection is what makes you human, it’s how you build your character and develop memories. Lack of emotion leads to lack of empathy and not knowing how to act in certain situations. If this is the path the human race is taking they are on their way to becoming robotic. Also being to connect those emotions in certain cases is how you create your skill set and instincts. That is the most basic form of technology that one is “born” with it and it develops with experiences.
Several argue that technology has numerous benefits and impacts how we live now but there is a considerable amount of negatives to technology. These advancements have saved many and discoveries have lead to solutions. Although it has improved daily life it has also taken away from it, making several feel unsafe. According to Sebastian Buckup articled entitled “Utopia or dystopia? Five Key tech debates” (2014), claims that “Triggered by street protests around the world as well as spectacular data leaks, the past years have seen an unprecedented empowerment by the individual through digital networks. Technology dramatically increased the access to information and the ability of citizens to publicize and organize” (Buckup). Technology has made it accessible for the private information to be reached and takes away those rights of privacy that one should have. The balance of having freedom and order in the world is an impossible concept. When given too much freedom it is taken advantage of but when too many restrictions are placed many rebel.
Technology will continue to have its disadvantages and advantages. The place in which humankind is at makes it not possible to go towards to a utopian society. There are too many factors that lead to chaos and disagreement. A utopian society would prevent anyone to voice their opinions and express themselves. This generation is one that stands for their beliefs. Humanity has come so far for all the rights that one has and going towards that path would be a setback. Although there are places that could benefit from having those living conditions it just wouldn’t be a place someone would want to live. The rate that human beings are moving to is going towards a dystopian society.
Bradford, Nate. “Technology: Utopia Or Dystopia?” The Odyssey Online, 2016. Retrieved on 25
Oct 2018. Retreived from www.theodysseyonline.com/technology-utopia-dystopia.
Buckup, Sebastian, et al. “Utopia or Dystopia? Five Key Tech Debates.” World Economic
Forum, 2014. Retrieved on 25 Oct 2018. Retrieved from www.weforum.org/agenda/2014/09/utopia-dystopia-five-key-tech-debates/.
Demolition Man. Directed by Marco Brambilla, performances by Sylvester Stallone, Wesley
Snipes, and Sandra Bullock, IMDb, 1993.
Escape from L.A. Directed by John Carpenter, performances by Kurt Russell, Stacy Keach, and
Steve Buscemi, IMDB, 1996.
Escape from New York. Directed by John Carpenter, performances by Kurt Russell, Lee Van
Cleef, and Ernest Borgnine, IMDB, 1981.