Saturday, February 04, 2006

THX 1138. What's Wrong?

Just watched George Lucas's THX 1138 and found it a lot more engaging than I thought it might be. In a way, it's a dark, 88 minute joke, which ends with the punchline that Robert Duvall's titular character will no longer prevented from escaping because the budgeted cost for his retrieval has been exceeded.

I have to disagree with the NYT reviewer Roger Greenspun (link above) who in 1971 wrote
"A few years back" might almost be a motto for "THX 1138," because whatever horror lies ahead, I don't think that anybody now seriously imagines that it will take the form of a de-emotionalized asexual society enslaved by its own models of technical efficiency.
True our society has if anything only become more and more sexualized in the intermittent 35 years since Lucas's firsy feature film debuted, but our enslavement to technical efficiency has only deepened and broadened. Perhaps if Greenspun worked in a modern-day corporation and considered the potentially dehumanizing tenets of Six Sigma (for just one example), he might not find the premises of THX 1138 so far fetched.

Additionally, the film deals with sexuality in a way that's terribly, hauntingly prescient: THX relates quite physically through technology with erotic images on his holographic television and prefigures all the pornographic material to be found on the Internet, which might now substitute for a healthy physical relationship. So were Lucas's visions of a future asexual society really that far off? After all, dystopic visions of the future aren't necessarily mean to be taken literally; rather, they're metaphoric representations of where societal trends might be leading us.

For fun, a couple of mashups: THX meets Depeche Mode and THX meets Bjork.

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