I’m a Movie Buff…So Sue Me

As much as this may signify me missing the more practical points in Remediation, as I read  it I could not help but think about all the different movies and that employ the idea of immediacy through virtual reality.  It would be too obvious to bring up The Matrix in which we’re born into a plugged in virtual world without ever knowing hat everything around us is not, by technical definition, real.  I will point out one thing though, and that is that because death in the matrix constitutes death in the real world, that suggests the connection between them is not only perceived but there is a more concrete association present as well.  Another film that comes to mind is Vanilla Sky, in which the twist is that Tom Cruise’s character has actually volunteered and paid to be placed in a virtual reality, his memories of doing so subsequently erased so that her perceives the world around him as the “real” world.  I find this case to be slightly more interesting than a world in which humans are harvested by machines and plugged into a digital dimension.  The idea behind this is that if something so devastating happens in your life that you no longer care to live in the real world, then you can pay to have yourself installed into a digital program in which the world bends ever so slightly around your will. This, although obviously impossible in the modern day seems to be the end goal of immediacy.  The point where the virtual world and the “real” world become seamlessly combined.  The character only becomes aware of his feigned existence due to glitches in the program that tip him off to the fact that there’s something of with his world.  Penelope Cruz’s start transforming into Cameron Diaz’s…it’s a whole big mess.  But in this case, these glitches become the elements of hypermediacy, those things indicating that what the character is perceiving is in fact the product of a virtual reality.  When he finally learns that this world is designed to bend around his desires, this too acts as a component of hypermediacy, showing him the fabricated nature of his world.

But what I think is most interesting about this explanation is that it applies to another movie, not quite as preoccupied with the ideal of virtual reality, namely The Truman Show.  In this show, there is an entire caged in world in which everyone is aware that a television show is being filmed except for the star, played by Jim Carrey.  The fact that he is unaware that he is being filmed, gives the show its element of realism.  Although this is not an instance of virtual reality, its details eerily mirror those of Vanilla Sky.  Truman’s entire world is scripted around him, everyone else aware of its fabrication while the show relies on his ignorance.  In this case,the elements of immediacy lie in the efforts of all the other cast members to keep the truth from Truman and convince him that the world he live in is in fact the “real” unscripted world.  But again, as the actors slip up evidence of hypermediacy start to edge their way into the picture, until Truman realizes that the entire world that he knows has been designed with him at the center.  I think that this example brings up an interesting dialogue with Remediation in that while there is technically no virtual reality present, the ideas of immediacy and hypermediacy still apply.

Lastly, I just want to recognize that movies and television shows fundamentally rely on the concept of immediacy in order to get through to viewers.  When a movie is able to make you cry or feel happy, these emotions are the product of that movie breaking through the medium through which it is portrayed and having an actual effect on your real emotions.  There are thousands of people who live vicariously through their favorite television characters, associating them with feelings that exist just as plainly in the real world.  Thus, it is those movies and television shows that are most effective at employing the laws of immediacy and breaking through the hypermediacy that are most successful in that they can invoke real world sentiments.

4 Comments on “I’m a Movie Buff…So Sue Me”

  1. Tim Webber says:

    I don’t think that using a piece of art or media to live vicariously is the same as immediacy. A work of art may excite or move one to tears, but at no point does it become so totally immersive that the line between that and reality becomes blurred. Reality and a virtual can never truly be combined. As The Matrix, The Truman Show, and Vanilla Sky (from you’re description, as I haven’t seen it) all show, the attempts to weave virtual realities into reality always come unraveled by film’s end.

  2. Brian Croxall says:

    I think another interesting film to consider in connection with this wonderful exegesis would be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I agree with Tim that identifying with characters need not be the same thing as immediacy. But I think the line is not clear cut. When a film makes us cry, we have often forgotten to notice the frame of the television screen or the curtains in the movie theatre, to say nothing of the fact that we know deep down that the scene was filmed multiple times and that the whole film was created in an order different from the final version. How strange, in a sense, that the lowly TV might be better at immediacy than VR. (And of course, The Truman Show is about television.)

  3. Rafid Kasir says:

    Since we are talking about movies, I feel that the film Repo Men holds a very practical application of technology that posesses the “immediacy” effect. It is only a minor detail in the movie, but a medical technology company has created a virtual reality for people who are about to die, before they die. They freeze the people who are about to die and they live comfortably on a beach for the rest of…ummm…eternity? I am not trying to discuss the ethics of it, but since we are talking about immediacy and hypermediacy, the subject can sometimes notice glitches within the virtual reality and realise they are in a virtual reality setting. What they cannot do is leave it.

  4. Chelsea Edwards says:

    I think your use of these movies is a great explanation of the general concept of immediacy. Obviously, these characters life does literally become a blend of the digital realm. But more so, our own emotions and feelings are molded and redirected as we become more engrossed into the movie. Although I agree that, on the surface, identifying with characters is not the very same thing as immediacy; however, I think event of viewers’ reality and the virtual setting combine is similar to the general concept behind immediacy. As you said the pinnacle of immediacy appears “where the virtual world and the ‘real’ world become seamlessly combined”