On Being a Luddite
I have been thinking lately about The Social Network, which came out a couple of months ago, but still remains one of the few memorable movies I’ve seen this year. It shouldn’t be so interesting. So many of the scenes take place in front of a laptop, whether Mark Zuckerberg is banging away at Facebook’s code, making friends, or ordering a pizza. But I can’t blame director David Fincher, this extended computer noodling is expected from any movie set in the present.
And this makes me feel bad for the screenwriters of tomorrow. How interesting are laptops? Most people are content to conduct their entire lives in front of a screen, and while that may have made life easier, it remains exceedingly boring to watch.
What if The Sting had been set today? Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s wire scheme would have instead involved a few pat emails, some hacking into their mark’s bank account, and a congratulatory coffee at the corner Starbucks. Dorothy would never have stayed in Kansas if she had the Weather Channel app on her iPhone. Tornado Warning—unless you want to be spun clear to Oz, get out while you still can! And you know set today Revenge of the Nerds, both one, two, three, and four would have taken place not in a frat house but in a computer lab.
Any simple set of tasks that people used to obsess about and spend precious shoe leather on are now easily solvable by the internet. Banking? Online banking. Shopping? Amazon. Movies? Netflix. It’s just not the same world when everything is convenient. Even the Jetsons, the greatest prophecy our generation received about the future age, looks outdated now. Jane could have done most of the cleaning not pressing innumerable buttons but using her iBook.
What are screenwriters of the future going to do? Some workarounds are funny—others, like the Act I “Dying Cellphone” bit, are overused. This clip is courtesy of FourFour.
I know I sound like Andy Rooney. I’m sorry. Go ahead, prove me wrong in the comments.