Thursday, September 19, 2013



                                           Don’t Get Stuck in the Matrix, Neo

Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” (Morpheus, The Matrix)

 Frank Rose “The Art of Immersion: Fact or Fiction”

Rose argues that some cultural scholars fear the power of mass media to replicate reality.  In his article he claims that as technology allows media to increasingly blur the line between reality and fiction, there is a fear that virtual reality will replace real world experiences. He makes the case starting with the recent example of the film Avatar and then referring to past examples of the advent of television and “talkies” or film with dialogue to demonstrate how historically each new media was (falsely) predicted to cause mass chaos and end civilization as we know it. Rose then leaves us with the question of whether or not we want authenticity in the media we consume.

It is the ability of media to wow us with the fantastical that keeps us coming back for more. Gothic literature such as Dracula was popular amongst women who had little means of finding excitement in their provincial existence in Victorian society. Mina and Lucy were created by Stoker to give women of his era an opportunity to live vicariously through  characters that seemed just like themselves but were caught in an exciting web of supernatural villains, exotic foreign lands with strange tongues and customs and heroic men fighting to save the day. Media executives use the same tactic with reality TV shows. “Real” housewives and other types of relatable women are taped living lavish lifestyles that the average women may dream of but never actually experience. They get a Rolex watch for Christmas, you get a toaster and now you tune in each week to watch their "reality" because you wish that was you. The important question however, is not what we want but whether or not it is good for us.

The quest to be entertained can become a slippery slope if you are not firmly planted in reality. As Ray Bradbury predicts in Fahrenheit 451 media can be, “an environment as real as the real world. It becomes and is the truth.” Whether it’s a family of modest means foolishly running up credit card debt trying to emulate a lifestyle that was never theirs to begin with or a madman tragically opening fire on a crowd of innocent people trying to re-create their favorite video game, succumbing to the fantasy can have some devastating, irreversible consequences. Not everyone is strong enough not to get sucked into the matrix.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you really pulled a little from everything for this! That's okay, though--so does Rose :-) Well done!