Hum 110 Extra Credit assignment:
Grading Weight: 50 points
Introduction: As we near the end of the semester, a lot of the technologies we are discussing are either in their infancy or have yet to become more than science fiction. With that in mind, then, this assignment will focus on a film that explores a hypothetical “future” reality – one that relies on technology that doesn’t yet exist, but that may very well exist in the future. You will examine the technology, the impact it has on the world within the context of the movie, and what lesson our current society might take away from the film’s storyline.
Each of these movies shows a dystopian society – that is, an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic. Dystopias have long been a staple in modern storytelling, as a way to explore the possible negative outcomes of a particular path, be it social, environmental, political, or technological. For example, one of the most popular recent dystopian films is The Hunger Games, which explores a world in which society is rigidly hierarchical; this context shows the potential negative outcomes of the political caste system.
Topic: Select one of the films below. Some of these are available on Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming platforms. You might also be able to borrow a physical copy of the DVD from the CCCC library.
Ender’s Game (2013)
District 9 (2009)
I, Robot (2004)
Judge Dredd (1995 – original version)
The Truman Show (1998)
RoboCop (1987 – original version)
The Terminator (1984)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Note: If you have a different movie in mind that you’d like to analyze for this project, email me about it before working on this assignment, so I can confirm I have seen it as well. There are quite a few films out there that I haven’t seen that would work well for this project — as long as A) the film shows a dystopian society, and B) there is some sort of “future” technology that plays a central role within the film.
Written Analysis: Your analysis will consist of 4 parts. Label each section accordingly. Your analysis should reach a 900 word count. You need to post your submission prior to the deadline for module seven.
1. Movie Summary: Provide a brief recap of the overall plot of the movie (no more than half a page long)
2. Technology: What is the primary technology? Explain it in layman’s terms so your classmates can easily understand. Theorize how close we might actually be to having that technology in our own reality. (Note: Many of these movies include multiple kinds of theoretical technology. Your focus should be on the BIG one. For example, the characters in your film might use fancy future laser guns, but the BIG tech is the ability to travel in time – so focus on that aspect.)
3. How the technology impacts the movie world: First, explain how the movie world is dystopic – i.e., what is the “great suffering or injustice” within the society. Then, explain what role the technology plays within that society. Has it had a positive or negative impact? Did the creators of the tech expect it to be used for good, or were they planning to use it for their own gain? Regardless of the original intentions, what are the negative repercussions of that technology?
4. The lesson: What lesson is the audience supposed to take away from this movie? What is the film “warning” us might happen? To return to the example of The Hunger Games: This series can be viewed as a warning to make sure that we do not allow our society to become so stratified that entire groups of people are locked into political castes from which there is no escape – particularly, not to let the “elite” (or in our society, the super-rich) take control of all of the political power.
(Postings shorter than 900 word count will be penalized, so make sure that the length of your post fits the requirements!)
Note: While you might be tempted to go into a lot of detail about the movie’s plot, try to just give us the basics. The most important part of your presentation is the technology itself, so make sure the majority of your presentation focuses on that.
Assessment: The written analysis will be graded on how thoroughly you explore the ramifications of the dystopian technology and relate them to our current society.
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