Tag Archives: Mr. Robot

(Still) Troubled by #MrRobot and the #Infinite Loop of Insanity

On the 4th or perhaps 5th time of watching, Mr. Robot, Series 1, episodes 1-3 still do not disappoint, and so the question remains… at what point will the show start to fail its subversive underpinnings and come crashing down to reveal nothing but rubble with no sign of the essential footings required to maintain the kind of integral structure I’d once imagined was possible? (Architecture metaphor?).

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There’s just no other word for it. Subversive. That’s what it is. It’s just so subversive in its first incarnation that it’s almost impossible to fail to notice its subversiveness. So, what went wrong with Series 2.0? A question I’ve been grappling with all summer, and until attending a Rosi Braidotti masterclass I’d imagined I’d be struggling with such a question a good while longer.

But now a glimmer of hope.

Perhaps there’s a need to apply Deleuzian principles in order to make sense of the shift from subversiveness to a kind of style over substance? But, better check back later when more reading has been done…

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(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – #MrRobotFinale

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<title>(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – #MrRobotFinale</title>

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<p>Not as taken with season 2 as with season

Not sure if season 3 will be worth the wait

Feels like the potential for subversiveness is being eroded

Looks, feels, and sounds too much like a good video game (thinking GTA)

Drawing on well-worn tropes of character development feels fake

Going a bit too David Lynchy but not as raw as Lynchy-winchy

Is “star” involvement with production getting in the way

It seems that way</p>

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A World Without Work and a Mash-Up of Recent Posts

There’s an article discussing the way the world would look if future improvements in technologies eradicate the need for us to work. It’s nothing special. It’s reasonably positive about the outcome of such a thing. But, regardless of its merits, it does flag up something that seems to be entering the cultural lexicon more and more these days – a rabid discontent with what we have at the moment (failing economies, failing political systems, failing interest in working ever-longer hours for little or no extra reward, and other faily stuff), and the feeling that there should be a better way of doing things.

Now, my last post was all about the benefits of having time to think – and we’re not talking about 15-20 minutes spent pondering over a cup of coffee. We’re talking about day after day, until months and even years pass by, where we engage with the brain and have it working in far more productive ways than merely thinking about what new dress/tie/shirt/trousers/trainers/car/house/holiday/whatever to buy. To some that may sound a little scary. Many people cannot sit still, cannot stop talking for fear of the silence that fills the gaps between breaths, and may in fact choose to come up with the kind of argument that is situated within the above article and its readers’ comments section (always hilarious to read, as it shows how quickly we descend into aggression) – that we’ll all be poor and/or we’ll live in constant fear of crime and that we’ll all miss work because it’s such an integral part of our lives. Getting over that type of hysteria is required to think about the next level.

Now, as for the “cultural lexicon” bit, what is meant here is that there are interesting examples of conversations being had where the outcome of a shift in our society’s thinking is not yet fully formed – it’s more of a preliminary grabbing a blank canvas and kind of thinking about doing something with it at some point when you get a minute kind of thing as you’re busy thinking about many other things at the same time, to use such an analogy. Examples that have interested me recently are: #MrRobot; #RussellBrand; and #PeterDoherty, to name but three. Each one, though problematic, as such conversations are likely to be, speaks of a need to do things different to the way they are at the moment, and for that way to be better, fairer, more humanitarian in its ideals. Clearly, if you do the thing where you click the links that have been set up, there’s no single cohesive argument – but that’s the point. The conversations are starting to emerge.

The other side to the article in question, which engages with this kind of thinking from the reverse position, is that there is likely to reach a stage whereby the 1% of the 1%, let’s call them that just to be clear that it’s the very wealthy minority we’re discussing here, will have little or no need for a workforce. Now, though not one for conspiracy theories, there is the issue of what happens when the very wealthy have a workforce comprised solely of machines, along with a handful of skilled people (though that will only be a temporary thing) to service/repair the machines?

Do they:

  1. Redistribute their wealth evenly in a fit of egalitarian passion? (Probably not)
  2. Invent simple tasks for the majority to do, in exchange for a small sum of money? (Probably not)
  3. Set about ridding the world of all the extraneous mouths, so that they can keep all of Earth’s natural resources for themselves? (You’d hope not, but…)

Whatever the outcome, and I’m gunning for a), you perhaps have to ask yourself the following question: is the fact that we possess and continue to build nuclear missiles a potential problem for the earth’s population when at the same time we seem to have just completed a kind of “beginners guide to gardening the earth seed-kit” (Svalbard), which exists deep beneath the earth’s surface, protected by the thickest concrete walls imaginable and that are designed to withstand nuclear annihilation?

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(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – Sitcoms #MrRobot #HackingRobot

Do any of us still watch sitcoms in the way that we used to (probably a question for the over 40s this one)? The opening to episode 6 of Mr. Robot, “m4ster-s1ave.aes,” gave us an Elliot-esque 80s/90s-sitcom dream sequence as its opener, full of canned laughter and knowing winks to the camera, in a car that for the large part has film-stock scenery whizzing by in the background. Now, there’s not necessarily anything groundbreaking about this because we’ve seen it before, but Mr. Robot yet again seems to want us to become hyper-aware of our situation in the world, where we realise the ways in which we are “let in on the joke” of TV shows, etc., even though the real joke should be that we’re all sitting and staring goggle-eyed at a screen for however many hours a day (think Cable Guy finale).

And that’s the troubling thing about Mr. Robot. For all that it wants us to be in on the joke, and yes, it must be stressed that Mr. Robot isn’t actually a sitcom, we’re still expected to knuckle down, stare unblinkingly at the screen, and soak up all the tension from scenes such as Angela’s attempts to hack the FBI at Darlene’s request. At what point do we as the viewing public turn round and refuse to be entertained in this way – and is that what episode 6 is pointing towards?

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(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – Symbolism #MrRobot #HackingRobot

Episode four of Mr. Robot, Season Two, provides a piece of symbolism that may or may not be pointing towards one of the greatest unexplained, and largely unreported, events of the 21st Century. It is hard to say whether it is, or whether it isn’t, because the show is quite confusing with respect to the messages it sends out (see most of the previous Mr. Robot posts for an expansion of this thought).

The show probably gets away with this very piece of symbolism because it takes place during a dream sequence, and so, the weird, dreamy kind of stuff taking place perhaps softens the effect. But still. To have a high-rise building suddenly collapse in free-fall, in New York of all places, seems kind of bizarre, and it must have crossed the producers’ minds that adding such a scene references the collapse of World Trade Center 7.

WTC7 is rarely mentioned. So much so, that there is even a campaign to raise awareness of its collapse. Now, whether you’re into “conspiracy” theories or not is beside the point. A skyscraper collapses at around 49:40 of episode four. It suffers no damage. It just collapses in free-fall. When you see it you think: demolition. Given that it is widely recognised that buildings do not just collapse in such a manner, and that WTC7 is believed to be the only building to have ever done so, in New York on 11th September 2001, are the producers directly referencing this event, or is it just a coincidence?

There is probably a whole range of possibilities here. But here are two that I grapple with on an almost daily basis.

  1. Mr. Robot is a vehicle for expressing subversive thought, and it speaks to those who long for an alternative to the present capitalist system of Western industrialised nations. Referencing WTC7 in this way is a reminder to not believe the mass media, and to recognise the ways in which it manipulates current events to fit with the propaganda of the dominant ideology (or something like that).
  2. Mr. Robot wants its viewers to believe the above statement. Because most viewers stream the show as and when they choose, there is a record of those viewers (those who are meant to lean towards the sentiments of statement A). Here, there is the potential for a Minority Report kind of tactic – recognise those with conspiracist/anarchist/revolutionist/whatever leanings, and monitor them (or worse).

Or it could just be a TV show, and there’s nothing more to say than that.


(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 #MrRobot #HackingRobot

So, where to begin with this one? For those interested, there are previous posts that cover Mr. Robot Season One and such things as metaphors and references; White Rose; is any of it real?; and the end of consumer-debt society.

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Well, the trailer is out and things are set to get darker in the world of Mr. Robot, and Sam Esmail seems to have full control of his project, but the one thing that is still being wrestled with, and that has not fully been shaken off since first binge-watching season one, is: at what point will Mr. Robot and its anarchic sensibility be corrupted by the inner-workings of a “Hollywood” system that rarely engages with such subversive forms of fiction, or is there scope to consider that the eventual, and perhaps unintentional outcome of the show will be a nationwide, perhaps even part-global raising of the collective state of consciousness to such an extent that people will start to wake up to the fallacies (freedom (generally), autonomy, the capitalist model and “democracy” as fundamentally linked, and so on…) of contemporary life in, primarily, post-industrial cultures?

Or is there nothing more to it than that it’s just another form of contemporary media that keeps us glued, zombie-like, to our screens? Surely not…

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Troubled by Mr. Robot #3 – Is any of it real?

In the final episode Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) asks: “is any of it real?” What are we meant to take from this, a TV show, a work of fiction that serves the primary function of entertaining us, and which does so by captivating us as viewers so completely that we sit zombie-like, staring at a screen filled with pixelated images on viewing devices that make those images look as real as, and often better than anything we experience in daily life?

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And is Mr. Robot’s proclamation supposed to be a revelation to us? How can it be when it is exposing what we already know we know? Has TV gone beyond its initial remit of pure entertainment? Is this TV with a conscience? TV that will eventually bring down TV? TV that has somehow by-passed irony and entered a new phase of enlightenment? Or is it really just entertainment, but way cleverer than it used to be? Would we even know what “real” looks like if it were presented to us?


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