So I went to see Oblivion. Its a movie about the future. As I watched it, it felt like the producers had used just about every sci-fi trope ever, inserted with precision and poise in a stunning landscape. Yet still I found it frustrating.
It’s a visual feast by the guy who brought us Tron Legacy. But the mid-section felt bloated as talented actors with wafter thin characters tried to be relevant and multi-dimensional, not least the Kingslayer and Morgan Freeman. The end had some interesting ideas, but it felt rushed. Time and again, scenes paid homage to sci-fi of the past. For me, it was the delightful Andrea Riseborough who lifted otherwise grey dialogue. But even she was reduced to tapping a giant iKitchen-pad most of the time and never quite finishing her Earl Grey.
Yes, we’re an effective team, she lied.
Having said all that, I like sci-fi. I liked this movie in parts too. I’ve also been playing Bioshock Infinite and Tombraider of late – and at times I felt that Oblivion was a series of cut scenes, slotted between Tom Cruise on a motor-bike or pondering the nature of fish. I couldn’t help but imagine how terrible a video game franchise of Oblivion would be.
I woke up today, had breakfast, did the school run and checked the feed. Stories about Bitcoin, someone tweeting about the power of iPads, yet another conference goer banging out today’s hash tag. I couldn’t help but reflect on how the feed has become a rather plodding Edutrope. If it was a game, the aim is to throw information at a flat surface and see what sticks. I found myself thinking how oblivious I’ve become to using glass which can monitor and record the world around me, yet be utterly unable to prevent others in the world behaving in ways I find frustrating and increasingly intimidating.
I would hate to think that my kids will somehow end up in a world dominated by augmented glass barriers, as I strongly suspect there will always be those who work to create them for others out of self interest. The future is going to be glass and gestures, it is going to be connected to the Internet of things. There will be those who can find process and flow, and those whom they act upon.
I’m increasingly un-convinced by the arguments made in the Edutrope, the endless ‘inspire me’ needs of conference goers and the ridiculous fees paid to consultants, where the sucker at the full time coal face wonders if they will have a job next week. The real issue I see is about under-employment – people in work that want to contribute more than they are allowed, either in terms of hours at work or what they do. Instead, I live in a country where three or four men decide the policy of a nation, where the same men advocate for fitting cruise missiles to patrol boats to launch at desperate people arriving by dilapidated boat.
And it’s only 8am.