Transcendence: WTF!!!

But first …

Cute Coco the Visiting Cat …

My healing purrrrrrs are healing.

My healing purrrrrrs are healing.

… and a P. S. to the Mrs Widds breaks her foot post:

Moral of the story #3: Inform immediate family of accident BEFORE publishing a blog post about it.


This isn’t probably going to make sense unless you’ve seen the movie. Never-the-less, and apart from plot holes a mile wide and scienc-y stuff ‘Fringe’ would’ve been proud of …

Lemme see …

“Mumble, mumble, something, something, sacred human emotions.”

“Mumble, mumble, something, something, discerning the difference between right and wrong.”

“Mumble, mumble, something, something, beware science gone wild.”

Last night I was kinda frustrated with my writing and decided to catch up on my list of movies I missed this summer. I rolled the dice and came up Transcendence. (technically it was released last year, but I was planning to watch it this summer) It’s an OK movie but within the first five minutes I knew how it was going to play out.

* Grimy (yet idealistic) terrorists blow up computers, because, ‘puters bad, mud on face good’. Collective connected intelligence bad, the ‘Individual’, good. (repeat after me, “We are all individuals.” – Monty Python’s ‘The Life of Brian’ reference)

* Plucky scientist almost makes the Singularity go global but is betrayed by a loved one who then dies, (of course) but before tragically expiring, convinces the scientist to repent his evil technological ways and upload a computer virus (via blood-to-blood nano-EMP, of course) to reduce the entire world to a pre-electronic/distopic wasteland, in order to stop people being cured of cancer and bringing sight to the blind!!!!!

I’m serious.

To unpack a few things – first the right/wrong thing. You know how us highly (and not-so-highly) evolved apes figure out right and wrong? We’re taught it, by our caregivers, our society, our history. (which makes dinnertable conversations about such things rather ‘fascinating’) If you write a computer program that has those things in it then guess what? The program can discern between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. And if it ever does achieve true self-awareness/sentience then hopefully you did your job and gave it the right ‘upbringing’.

Next – Ye goode olde human emotions. Without a rational mind to co-ordinate those emotions, to work in tandem with them, then all you have is self-destructive chaos. Wonderful for emotive speechifying and artistic tension, but not much else.

And the out-of-control technology? I’ve got news for you Pandora, that little bundle of knowledge has been out of the bag for a few millennia, starting with the first pointy stick one of our simian ancestors used to lure some tasty ants out of their nest.

The digital age has brought us as a species together, connected, far more than it’s driven us apart, mainstream media’s hysterical sound-byte headlines notwithstanding. Unless someone does figure out how to deliver a global EMP (or the Sun does it for us) we’re only going to become more connected. We’re a tribe. (we always were, and we probably always will be) With all our glorious technicolour differences, we’re still a tribe, figuring out how to get our little blue ball of a planet from one end of the cosmos to the other.

* Oh and the ending? The grime-raddled terrorists fail to completely quell the scientist’s experiments, because somewhere, (in the midst of an overgrown deserted mid-city ruin) a tiny sunflower blooms.

So, they ruined the world and they failed anyway! They then nod sagaciously as the world goes to hell in a handbasket and say it was for the best. Seriously? !!!

Ya gotta love it.

It was however, OK for Mark Watney in The Martian (which I loved, by-the-way) to, “science the shit outta this” because it was ‘good’ technology.


I get that Hollywood thinks it’s making ‘cutting edge’ social commentary, but it’s not really, it’s maintaining a stereotype that is so insidious it convinces us that there’s something worthwhile to be gained by creating a culture of fear of science ‘in the wrong hands’, and stifles science and scientific breakthroughs that move us forward as a species. (and therefore rendering the ‘grimy-yet-idealistic terrorists extinct)

I’m not a dewy-eyed idealist. I know there are some real shitheads out there, who for whatever distorted reasoning want to hurt, everything. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want science fiction to step up and show me a future that isn’t distopian. (‘The Martian’ did it rather well, I thought)

I want it as a trend. I want it for consecutive years, hell, even a decade or two. Long enough for the next generation of creators and creatrixes to have that mindset as their baseline, their default, when they think about their next piece of art.

The single glowing Eye of Cat is upon future Creators and Creatrixes

The single glowing Eye of Cat is upon future Creators and Creatrixes


17 comments on “Transcendence: WTF!!!

  1. Lately I’ve been thinking those in power demand that dystopian movies and TV shows be made to numb us so that the majority will accept Trump as President who will bring the end of the world as shown in the movies. I want to think that the Pollyannas will prevail.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. szegerton says:

    Entertaining and wise, Widdershins.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Olga Godim says:

    Great post. I want positive sci-fi too, but it’s rarely so. That’s why I don’t, as a rule, read sci-fi books and never watch sci-fi movies. The only exception I know about and love – books, not movies – are Lois McMaster Bujold and her Vorkisogan novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We finally saw The Martian this week. Excellent stuff! Haven’t seen the Depp film yet, though, but as far as The Martian is concerned, I agree with you completely. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. BunKaryudo says:

    I like science fiction movies, but I haven’t seen any of these ones yet. I think you’re right, though. The mad scientist/science-out-of-control trope is one that Hollywood has been hammering on about since at least Frankenstein. While there probably are a few genuine concerns about some aspects of science that might usefully be explored, all we usually get is psychotic robots. Hollywood doesn’t do nuance very well.


  6. londonmabel says:

    Never thought about it before (your science point). Good point!


  7. Joan Y. Edwards says:

    Dear Widdershins,
    I enjoyed you telling us your opinion of the science fiction movies…mad scientists especially. I love your sense of humor! Thank you for sharing it with us, your readers!



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