Saw the film, Avengers…Ultron last night.  It was awesome, silly, grand, puerile, daunting, scary, funny, scrambled… all at the same time.  What is relevant to this blog-site, is its verisimilitude, the simulacrum.  In this dimension, it shares these attributes with many of the most recent CGI blockbusters.

Movies today, can replicate the most preposterous events with absolute reality.  Peckinpah lifted violence to the balletic in his Western films.  Today violence is lifted to the operatic.  The inability to discern reality from fantasy is what bends my mind when I watch these modern mash-ups.  Most of them portray some form of human or earthly apocalypse.  It is rendered so fully real, that my own adult hold on reality falters.  There is at least one moment in each of these super-hero movies when I grow queasy  and disoriented when I see the earth and its millions dissolve before my eyes.  It is all too real.  It fools my senses.  In spite of knowing better, there is a part of me that is terrified that it IS happening.  That it CAN happen.

I fear for the young that watch such films.  Catastrophe is endemic.  Assault from ourselves or from outer space is rendered so persuasively that its likelihood is difficult to defer in our minds and fears.  Even my adult hold on reality quavers in the onslaught (2 hours +) of depictions that rob me of my foothold in reality.  I know that children, particularly boys, as young as 5 or 6 begin to see these movies.  By the time they are 9 or 10 it is regular diet.

With their, as yet, stable relationship with reality still forming, I wonder of the consequence.  Isn’t such verisimilitude, such a perfect simulacrum completely terrifying?  There is little standing between abject terror and the movie screen.  I have some years of reality connection.  They have little.  I know most parents say, “it’s only a movie”.  I know we all come back out into the fresh air and reality.  But I have the tools and history to shake off the terrors, certain they are fiction.  But even then it takes some time to shake the discomfort.  The young have lesser tools and experience.  We have yet to see the consequences.

This phenomenon of perfected simulacra is of very recent vintage.  By today’s standards even Star Wars, the series, seems fake.  Whether it’s Transformers, Avengers, terror, horror or car chases, the perfect rendering has become routine.  Add Oculus to the home screen version of videogames, and discerning real from dreams, sanity from insanity becomes ever more difficult.  And that is, in fact, the thrill of it!

Only cost keeps this perfect CGI reality at bay…. into expensive feature films.  As its costs come down, as they surely will, CGI perfect simulacra will invade every part of our media existence.  Combine that with AI, and we will all become schizophrenics that cannot tell reality from unreality.  A kind of comfortable madness will become a way of life.  We will finally live inside the perfect simulacrum, not knowing, and perhaps not caring.   And whoever writes that simulacrum’s script………will rule!!!



4 thoughts on “Avengers

  1. Great entry! Agree, the films of today are scary real. I can’t wait to see the NEW Star Wars. Remember George Lucas was the first to give us a sense of REALISTIC effects that made film makers believe anything is possible. Some 40 years later, look how perfect the craft has become. J.J. Abrahams will certainly give the audience something to remember. Without the thrill of reality, the movie business would be dead by now, just hope that the smaller films can survive. Seems like every movie out there is crazy action these days. Where did the simple REAL movie idea go?


  2. I was just talking last night about what my favorite movie still is. Its usually Jaws..not just for creating terror out of something you almost never saw but also from creating an authentic slice of life of simple Americana that still holds up today. Although this movie has no visual effects it succeeded in using the young and probably some old minds to create fear. I’m in my 40s and still don’t go in the water. Im not convinced its for some other reasons that Ive created. So yes, I agree with your fear that children are affected by these movies more than we know. The violence in video games is even worse and is often to blame for these kids who go in and shoot up schools without remorse. Has something in their conscience been diluted by not becoming so used to this “play” violence that is all too real.
    It is certainly scary!


  3. I’ve heard from a few Mom friends that it is rather violent! Haven’t seen it myself so tough to comment. I will say you have a lovely vocabulary and well beyond mine ha! I am not much of a public post comment person but I must tell you that many of your blogs have created fantastic conversation pieces between me and other readers. As well as the fact that I’ve shared your scripts analogy with my 13 year old boy and its a fantastic way of allowing him to visualize being who HE is because he is at such a prime age where so many “scripts” will take over his life for the next 30+ years. Keep writing…your brain is an inspiration to many !!



    1. Such kind words! Thank you. It is nice to hear that the posts are also having practical value within the family versus merely academic value for internet discussions. My book has many chapters on the impact of “scripts” within the family….particularly regarding adolescence….as your son enters that phase. Thanks for being a regular and intelligent reader.


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