I went to see the film Tron Legacy the other night. The original film had a big impact on my childhood and at the time seemed to open up some important issues about our relationship with technology (OK – I was 8 at this point so it is possible that it isn’t as profound as I remember). As I write and think about technology a fair bit I was hoping that Tron Legacy would give me some new food for though.
This may seem an absurd thought. Hollywood blockbusters aren’t often particularly hard on the brain box. However I love science fiction and I do think that imaginative presentations of the future can frequently ask some really interesting things about the present – especially where technology is involved. I actually wrote a PhD about this so you can’t stop me from over-analysing this stuff.
However Tron Legacy is such a complete desert of ideas that it is difficult not to feel that you missed something. It is possible that there is a profound and deep movie in there somewhere, but it passed me by completely. What I find exciting about technology is the way that it connects us, enables new forms of communication and community and the way that it transcends geography and time zones (aka the internet). However weirdly for a film made in 2010 Tron Legacy ignores the internet altogether.
In Tron Legacy computers are powered by tiny neon goblins who spend their time alternating between hippy nonsense, fascism and thunderdome style violent games. Computers are sealed, programmes are just little people and the whole things has nothing at all to do with reality or technology as I know it. This is a tremendous shame as now more than ever we surely need a serious bit of science fiction to help us peer forward into the future and examine where the hybridisation of humanity and digital devices is taking us. However if it is taking us anywhere that looks at all like Tron Legacy I’ll eat my identity disc.