Science fiction films have the big impact on the understanding of virtual reality by a society. The difference between a man and a robot is the theme of interest that describes the social status and the way of communication of the real people and the artificial ones. Burgeoning technologies in films and books show how the real world can control other forms of life and otherwise. In this paper, we explore and represent physical, racial and sexual differences. Also, we try to understand the role of religion and technologies in this virtual reality. On the example of two films, Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) and The Matrix (Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, 1999), we will describe those differences and notions about virtual reality.
Fashion as a Code
Speaking about communication and relations between people and robots, we can say that in different science fiction sources we see different cases. In some sources the mankind dominates the robots, in others people are thought to be slaves of the machines. Such a difference can be understood as physical or racial in comparison of those two forms of intelligence. For example, in The Matrix by Andy Wachowski, humans are treated as slaves. They are controlled by robots, as their energy is used for machines. Artificial brains control the reality and the real world. People do not have any strengths or abilities to change it and are kept by machines only for their energy. Such discrimination tells about full control of the virtual world over the real one. In this film, machines control consciousness of men and women, distracted while they use their energy. Matrix program helps the robots to control people and to get their energy. The Matrix, according to Freeland, raises the questions such as, what does it mean to be seduced or deceived by the artificial version of reality (Díaz-Diocaretz, Herbrechter 2006). This program is developed just for such a purpose and is virtual, while the real world is dead. “The Matrix is a virtual reality, a world “pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth”. With certain exceptions, it is so comprehensively realistic that practically everyone plugged in believes it is real…” (William Irwin 2002).
In another movie, Blade Runner by Ridley Scott, an artificial intelligence, that looks like a real male or female, is controlled by humans. Robots, so-called replicants, are slaves and live only for four years. Being created by humans for diverse purposes, replicants had to make all the work. When a society decided that robots are not needed anymore, people decided to kill them. Policemen (Blade Runner) were asked to exterminate them after the testing. Such a strict form of control is shown not only by the murder but also by the inception date, or a lifespan of the replicant. Every replicant has a distinct period of the lifetime, at the end of which he or she eventually dies. Humans in Blade Runner are treated as control force that dictates their own rules and principles. Even Roy Baty, the villain in this science fiction story, is eager to know when he will die. He asks himself a question that is interesting to every person, despite the age or race, “…implanted memories and experiences are used as a means of control” (Mark, Wolf 2000). Fake memories of Rachel have much in common with the discovery of Thomas Anderson from the Matrix that the world can be not the one that we are used to.
To sum up, we can state that in both movies there is a parallel of concepts and ideas. Beliefs of humans and their actions are treated like a religion or cult that is strictly directed. Spiritual questions concerning such themes as death and different reality help to understand the world better and to differentiate the virtual being from the real one. The real world can be not the world we live in and only better understanding clarifies everything around an individual.
- Díaz-Diocaretz, Myriam & Herbrechter, Stefan 2006, The Matrix in Theory, Amsterdam; New York: Rodopi.
- Mark, JP, Wolf, 2000, Abstracting Reality: Art, Communication, and Cognition in the Digital Age, University Press of America, Inc.
- William, Irwin 2008, The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Caurus Publishing Company.