Interfacing with the Internet in Popular Cinema by Aaron Tucker (auth.)

By Aaron Tucker (auth.)

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When Angelo begins “curing” Smith by augmenting and retraining his brain via VR programs, it sets off a chain reaction in which Smith grows so powerful that he develops telekinesis and is eventually able to put other people to sleep or cause them to burst into flames. Jobe Smith begins the film as caring and playful and ends it, after being enhanced by computer technology, as inhuman, evil, and murderous; this transformation oversimplifies the fear that the Internet, and its potential access to a wealth of information, would corrupt an average user in much the same way.

More, this invasion is small, contained and, as Bennell demonstrates, escapable. Within Blue Velvet, Frank Booth is also still a physical human that is ultimately constrained by his physical body as well; Beaumont is able to triumph over Booth by shooting him, and is then able to return, albeit immensely changed by the whole experience, to his “normal” life in which Dorothy reunites with her son and Beaumont reunites with his girlfriend, Sandy. Through Sontag’s lens, both films present an illness that is rooted in the biological body and is then able to be contained and ultimately able to be controlled and eradicated.

As assemblages of organism-BwOs, they see themselves as a network of many different avatars and physical versions of themselves; they invite in and consider a near overwhelming amount of constant data, thriving in a densely social and informational world, while also consistently reflecting that virtual navigation back into their physical bodies. They are very savvy at navigating and parsing out “fake” from “real,” eschewing a binary Platonic ontology and instead relying 26 I N T E R FA C I N G W I T H T H E I N T E R N E T I N P O P U L A R C I N E M A upon the repetition, or cycle of selves, that the Internet enables.

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