Our current state of hyperbole is out of control. I’m sure I’ve thrown my fair share of logs on the conflagration of overstatement in my past postings here at BarelyConscious.com. But, declaring things “out of control” is no exaggeration. Over the course of my 20 or so years of adulthood, I’ve witnessed western culture play out an ever-escalating game of one-upmanship. At this point, it seems that – IN 2015 THINGS MUST BE ALL CAPS, ALL THE TIME! Unless you are currently reading the best, most epic article of all time, ever, literally – it’s probably not worth your time.
Expendables 4 is going to do some cross promotion with Where’s Waldo.
If you are seeing a movie, it needs to have at least 20 A-list stars and budget of over 500 million. If there is a boxing match, it’s got to be the “Fight of the Century”. If you are selecting a mate, they’d better have perfect facial symmetry, 8% body fat, and be a millionaire. If you are old, well… just “ew”. These expectations are untenable.
Moderation is underrated.
It all began with the introduction of realistic CGI technology to our video games and movies. This suddenly allowed for our wildest imaginations to become a virtual reality. Video games went from Donkey Kong to Mortal Kombat to Grand Theft Auto. Movies went from Creature From the Black Lagoon to Friday The 13th to The Human Centipede. Shit, now you can even be Jason Voorhees in Mortal Kombat, and competitively stab people through the head with a machete instead of just passively watching it.
In the near future, this game will be seen as some pussy shit your grandpa used to play.
The ramifications for this level of realism in our technology have made usually exciting and gratifying events seem mundane. From live music, to sex and dating, to movies, to sporting events, to our instant gratification expectations in general – Everything now seems to fall flat in comparison to the manufactured perfection we have become accustomed to. We’ve been there and done that. And we’re spoiled and jaded.
Movies have given Generation H a narrative in their heads of how a date is supposed to go, of how a basketball game will end, of what will happen if they start a fight with some dude. Faster, louder, harder, higher. More more more. Sex addictions, drug addictions, porn addictions, food addictions, gamer addictions, mobile device addictions, hoarders, preppers, ADHD, Adderall, 140 Characters or less, Ambien, Bath Salts, Ecstasy. Fucking fuck fuck dick fuck cunt cunt shit piss bitch ass fuckity fuck. From how far can we push the envelope (until we are gang-raping the envelope) celebrity roast jokes, to being bombarded each morning with “we’re all gonna die” news stories – it’s hard to live life plugged in these days. Speaking of which, I’m still pretty sure I had Ebola four or five times last fall.
It’s not funny anymore.
I went from checking my Facebook every day or so, to checking it every hour or two, to now… every week or so. At some point, I just hit the wall and decided it was time for some moderation. Our brains have never been exposed to this much constant stimulation. And it’s only going to get more intense, and easier to access. Antiquated evolutionary biological predispositions got us here, and they will eventually get us out. I have every confidence that we will eventually determine what levels are best for us, and dial it back as necessary. Unfortunately, it might become a total shitshow whilst we are calibrating said levels. Perhaps we will continue to dabble with Mike Judge’s vision of the future (Idiocracy), before we actually get ourselves appropriately evolved. I just hope the role of crash test dummy can fall on Generation H, and we can have shit sorted out in time for my kids.
A lot of important, thought-provoking questions are raised while viewing the film Ex Machina. Questions like : Are we close to experiencing the technological singularity? Will it be bad for humans when we do hit that point? Would I ever fuck a robot? Did the writers of Lost completely luck out on not getting completely annihilated during Google searches ? Are even the smartest humans on the planet mere simpletons when compared to basic Artificial Superintelligence? Is this movie dope as hell?
Spoiler alert : the answer to all these questions is a definitive Pretty Much.
Another spoiler alert, I’m going to talk about the end of the movie in the next paragraph or two.
Alex Garland wrote and directed the piss out of this movie. He was also responsible for the 2012 Dredd film – which I wasn’t a huge fan of. But man, did he spew out a masterpiece this time around, especially in comparison. The movie is really fascinating and has tons of subtle layers. I’m looking forward to future viewings of this, where I can pick up on a lot of stuff I’m sure I missed.
I watched Oscar Isaac in a both A Most Violent Year and Inside Llewyn Davis. The man has some serious chops, and range to boot. When his character (Nathan) gets stabbed by his own creation (Ava), his last words are “Fucking Unreal”. If I had just been reading a script, I would have probably suggested Alex go back to the drawing board with this line. But, Mr. Isaac made it fantastic, as he did with the rest of his scenes.
Shirtless men watching other men on their computers comprises only a small percentage of the film.
The Jackson Pollack discussion Nathan has with his employee/guest (Caleb) is one I really enjoyed. It was part of a larger discussion at the crux of one of my previous articles ( “Fields R Us” ), concerning the question of whether there is any part of consciousness that is not automated. The Pollock drip and splatter paintings are a great physical manifestation of this debate. Some sections of his paintings seem deliberate, while other parts suggest a seemingly random, chaotic flow. But, I believe the difference between these two things is only what Pollock’s perception of his intentions were. That is – when Pollock was creating these works, every mark on the canvas was the result of an automated response. If he tried to completely explain and plan out the paintings, he wouldn’t have painted one stroke.
Here is an artist’s interpretation of what it feels like to vomit after eating too many hot dogs at a Cubs game. Wait, sorry. This is a 100 million dollar Pollock masterpiece.
The only difference between the markings on the canvas are the ones where he had the delusion that he was exerting free will over his choices, and ones where he believed he was tapping into some kind of natural, subconscious chaos. Perhaps the only delineation between the two is merely the story we tell ourselves to feel special. Perhaps, the only true difference between microbe, insect, monkey, man, and ASI machine is an ever-increasing ability to create better fiction to help our minds cope with the reality of an automated universe. Conversely, this might not be the case at all.
The only negative things I have to say about Ex Machina are plothole-oriented criticisms. You mean to tell me that these two brilliant philosopher/programmers couldn’t figure out the end game of the AI doing whatever it could to escape? They really didn’t anticipate her attempting to play them like pawns in a game of chess? And how exactly does Nathan get the vast quantity of materials and supplies out to his insane laboratory/domicile, when the closest people can get to it are via a chopper flying over 200 miles of roadless forest, followed by walking next to a river?
This is …. hot?
Ultimately none of these trivial distractions tainted the overall enjoyment of the broad strokes of rich artwork being presented to my eager brain. The only scene where I found myself squirming in my seat a bit was when Caleb initially lies to Nathan after his first “off the grid” encounter with Ava. If anything, I would have guessed this was a setup test for Caleb, as Nathan’s chosen subject for this experiment. There’s no good reason not to immediately tell your highly perceptive, genius host about his test-phase robot telling you not to trust him. It made no sense that Caleb would side allegiance with Ava, and risk ruining his relationship with the man who employs him(who also happens to be one of the most powerful men on the planet, especially when it comes to surveillance). But, those things didn’t really bother me, since the rest of the film was so compelling. And I guess it kinda made sense to get captivated by Ava, since she was being played by the enchanting Alicia Vikander – so I’ll give all this stuff a pass.
I suppose I would help her out, if she asked nicely.
And now for a tangent.
I had a vague, loose idea of what the expression “Deus ex machina” meant. But I wanted to do a bit more homework on its origins for this review. That’s when it happened. The television series Lost somehow showed up in my Google results, and that deep, gushing wound was reopened yet again. When you run a Google search for “Lost Ex Machina” you will get results for the Season One episode titled – “Deus Ex Machina”. This is either amazing foresight on the writers’ part, or just dumb luck in essentially creating a massive Google Search cock block for the show that was perhaps the most infamous for its use of cheap, ridiculous plot devices. Allowest me to doth quoteth the ultimate source, a Wikipedia article defining Deus ex machina as :
“a device to resolve the plot of tragedies.It is generally deemed undesirable in writing and often implies a lack of creativity on the part of the author(s).”
It makes it really hard to search for articles mentioning the exact terminology that should be used in criticizing the show. Instead of linking me to thousands of articles by masses of disgruntled fans, it instead directs me to the one Lost episode with that title, thusly avoiding the appropriately deserved conflagration of rage.
So, let’s say a new television show is hypothetically called “Dr. Inappropriate”, and it has come under fire by the public for being borderline child pornography. Perhaps, the shows producers could take a page out of the Lost writers’ playbook and call one of their season one episodes “child pornography” so that when you run a Google search for the query “Is Dr. Inappropriate child pornography?” – You end up getting results for just the episode listing of that title, instead of chat rooms and blogs filled with outraged parents.
Or just maybe just lucky sons of bitches. Either way, a big “fuck you” to Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, those rich bastards.
Misdirected hostility ? Probably.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah.
Do you think I’m pretty?
This movie is totally worth seeing. The effects are mesmerizing, the acting and writing are sharp, and the scenery is gorgeous and inspiring. This movie made my mind bubble with excitement and introspection, and that is the best kind of entertainment I can think of.