Trouble in Paradise: Non-fiction: world outlook in the 90s: The X-Files, Blade Runner and The Matrix

Friday, June 7, 2019

Non-fiction: world outlook in the 90s: The X-Files, Blade Runner and The Matrix

World-outlook in the 90s: the grim view of X-Files, The Matrix and Blade Runner

This week I uploaded another video. The transcript is the one that I originally recorded, but during editing I deleted a good deal of it. According to Stephen King that's what draft 2 is all about: draft 2 is 'draft 1 - 10%'. 

The X-Files, The Matrix and Blade Runner…. Stay tuned to find out how these three works of fiction changed the world-outlook in the 90s and beyond….
Hi my name is JdH and in this video I will discuss how The X-Files, The Matrix and Blade Runner very subtly tuned into the vibe of the 90s and how they colored our sense of reality from then on. 
First off, I must admit that I’m a big fan of all three of these works: in a way these works of fiction were like music that I could return to from time to time – they were much like those songs that we all know and that resonate with us, but that were also products of a certain time, because they overlap and their stories work along much of the same vein and the same mechanism. At certain times ideas, themes and obsessions just seem to pop up. [tunes: Back in black ACDC, Sweet Child of mine Guns n roses, Zombie, Cranberries]
That is music, and the topic of this video are movies and series and my area in particular is fiction —the written word and beyond.The magic of all of these works of fiction comes down to much of the same thing and links up with this very simple premise: everyone has a talent, but it takes hard work and dedication to bend this talent into success. These works didn’t just happen, but they were the product of a lot of hard work, a bit of inspiration and a keen sense of what was actually going on at a certain time and place.
It doesn’t mean that The X-Files, Blade Runner and The Matrix weren’t singular, because this is where it links to one of the general effects of these works: they vastly bend our perception because many people watched and enjoyed them and were exposed to their vibe and ideas. 
The X-Files bend government conspiracies and extra-terrestrial intelligence into normalcy, The Matrix was all about this idea that our whole lives might be nothing more than a simulation or a dream and Blade Runner shows us a post-apocalyptic future where we have created droids (called replicants) to do the work that we don’t want to do ourselves and those replicants eventually evolve into copies of human beings that only have one definite distinction: droids expire after three years. 
This bend perception has become a new normalcy and currently we’re at the brink of embracing Virtual Realities that will surely bend our perception beyond a fiction. If these three works of fiction taught me anything then it is that fiction and for that matter our perception of reality are much broader than fiction being just a novel. A movie is fiction, music is fiction, video-games are a fiction and to some extent any cultural expression is a fiction, because they all share some of the same basic ingredients: inspired by creativity (or talent), but made into something great by hard work and perseverance.
There’s something else there as well and that’s that works of fiction always touch on reality, on current themes, but they also continue where other great works left off, or where they might have left a loose thread. We need that to make sense of things and many times new works are sold as a mix of previous works. The idea of alien life in The X-Files was ultimately based on (Flash Gordon, ‘36). The idea of a dream within a dream as explored in The Matrix is a poem (Poe). The idea of a droid serving humans was thought up by (Asimov). 
At the same time, the tone, pace and theme have definite similarities. All three works link back to film-noir with poignant detectives that operate in grey cities that are cloaked in a never-ending November Rain —and even if the rain stops and the darkness cedes —in a way it’s still there and this is where these stories are at their most potent. Then their main drive is completely existential: Fox Mulder (The X-Files) and Neo (The Matrix) are after the same question: what is the truth? Deckard (Blade Runner): what is a replicant (which in a way is just another kind of truth)? 
What also connects these works is the personal investment of each protagonist: their existential well-being depends on an answer —possibly most notably for Deckard, because at the end of the movie it looks like he’s asking himself whether he himself is a replicant…. Fox Mulder wants to know whether his sister was abducted when she was young when she disappeared and was never found…. For that reason it’s existential that he finds out whether aliens are real or just a work of fiction…. Neo wants to find out whether he himself lives inside The Matrix…. 
From the point of view of the story this all makes sense: all three protagonists are underdogs, which gives them the kind of hurt that we can easily relate to, because we have all been there in one way or other and we feel compassion for those that are down on their luck. This is also the depth that these stories reach and the way in which they relate to the era that started in the 90s and that stretches out towards our current times and beyond: our world is a strange one and we desperately try to understand it. 
This is also a keen distinction: aiming for understanding comes before mastery and it’s both timeless and contemporary, because most of us are struggling to get by, while very few of us are out in the fields well before to herd to tame the land and to attain some sort of mastery. And wherethese works are masterful is in that the problem is ultimately never solved, which results in an arc that drives the suspense beyond the consumption of these works of fiction and for that reason they start to inhabit a very small part of our subconscious, because they get usto think what if…. And in a way we continue dreaming the fiction that was laid out before us. 
What about the noir element? How does this help us and how does this relate to our lives and our condition? The 90s were more stable than our current times, but still there was turmoil, because the cracks of the economic boost that started after ww2 were becoming visible – an economy based on endless growth. In a way it’s just like life and just like anything else for that matter: at some point there’s an end.
Is all this a grim outlook? Maybe. Is it a practical outlook? Very, because on a subconscious level it makes us face reality and in a way deal with the fact that we will reach a plateau at some point in time. Is this outlook still contemporary after 20 years? Definitely. Look at the 1% and the 99%, populism, right-wing governments and a blind believe that the free market of capitalism will solve all of our problems. 
The pursuit of wanting to find the truth is something that keeps us going and in a way this pursuit is more important than any conclusion —it might even be stated is that asking questions like these (in moderation) is what keeps us mentally sane, or to put it another way that relates it to way we try to make sense of cognitive neuroscience: name it then tame it. We roughly know which areas of the brain fire up for specific tasks, but we lack the understanding as to how the brain as a whole works. But still by labelling these distinct parts, and identifying when they fire up, every person in the room will agree to the fact that these are the small steps that are required to attain a rudimentary understanding. That’s exactly the level below the surface at which The X-Files, Blade Runner and The Matrix helps us understand ourselves —not in definite terms, but on a less articulate and a more emotional level. They all entertain, but they also label and help us understand the world around us in one way or other. 
That’s another part of the appeal of these three works (and I can’t stipulate this mechanism enough) – and which makes them like any work of fiction that has the ability to move us on an emotional level and influence how we live and how we perceive the world around us. There’s the story at the surface, but underneath it there’s also the stuff of life that we can directly relate to. There’s the definite attraction between Mulder and Scully, the same attraction between Deckard and Rachel, and this is something that we have all dealt with at one time or other. And then there are the small bits and pieces of everything that lies in between.
I could go on and on, but I would just say: go and watch these works of fiction if you haven’t already…. Or watch again, if it has been a while. These works are very entertaining, but they are also stories of hope that will help us understand the world around us and for us to find a way with the world and ourselves. These are high standards, but they are of the same standard that I try to attain in my own works of fiction…. What is your opinion? What do you like about any of these works of fiction? Leave your comments below…. 
If you liked this video, you may also like my fiction: you can read a new story every week. For free.
Signing off, this is JdH speaking to you from the Caribbean [the land of sun, sea and sand].

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