From The Terminator to Wall-E

I've noticed a trend in sci-fi movies over the past several years.  Characters' consciousnesses are more often becoming separated from their bodies.  This occurs in The Matrix, Avatar, even John Carter, to name a few.  These movies portray their characters having grand adventures, all while their physical bodies remain unmoving, seemingly comatose.

Although Keanu can seem comatose even on grand adventures...

Dreaming provides the oldest and easiest analogy to this ability. While our bodies lay there, our minds and selves are off doing who knows what.  But I think a more recent phenomena can explain the increased popularity and occurrence of this trend in storytelling. Namely the Internet.

As more and more of our lives are spent in the digital realm, and thanks to Facebook and other means of networking socially, more and more of our personalities exist outside of ourselves.  Even when we are away from the computer, a version of ourselves exists online with which our friends may interact.   As we undergo our own process of disconnection between body and self, something speaks to us when we see this disassociation played out metaphorically on film.

I am excited to see to where this trend will lead. Will it lead people to believe more strongly in a spiritual or metaphysical realm? Will people feel less like themselves when unable to access the Internet?  And most importantly, what awesome new ways will movies portray this disassociation?

One thing seems true, we as a society are becoming more comfortable with the role of technology in our lives. We have gone from the warning of the dangers of too much faith technology, as found in stories like Frankenstein, to the portrayal of technology as a means of salvation, as found in movies like Wall-E (even if that technology is saving us from the excesses of technology).  If forced to arbitrarily pinpoint the moment of this transition, I would look to sometime between The Terminator and Terminator Two: Judgement Day.  It is in these two movies that our switch from fear to trust begins.  As a representation of this, Arnold as the Terminator goes from attempting to destroy humanity in The Terminator (Frankenstein), to attempting to save it in the Terminator Two (Wall-E).

I can hear the complaints of an older mentality based on a fear of what affect this separation will have.
But I can also feel a growing awe and excitement at what changes this new technology will bring.

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