Cyborg Cinema and Contemporary Subjectivity
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(Page 47) "Although the cyborg’s use as both a cultural icon and academic term is very much a contemporary phenomenon, it is important to bear in mind that it did not emerge fully fledged out of nowhere but is the culmination of a particular mode of inquiry, one that has its roots deep in mythic history. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a historical context for the cyborg so as to better understand how the ideas contained within this metaphorical figure have developed. Despite Haraway’s contention that ‘the cyborg has no origin story’,1 its antecedents can be traced back to some of the earliest stories of human civilisation. Indeed, in order to understand the philosophical, aesthetic and economic factors that have contributed to the cyborg’s development one would have to begin from ancient mythology and trace a detailed history from there to the present day, incorporating the diverse fields of art, literature and science along the way. Such a wide-ranging survey is outside the scope of this book however, so the cyborg’s history is limited, in this instance, to a brief summary of relevant factors that have contributed to the cyborg’s theoretical significance".
(Page 24) "Two discernible projections of cyborgs are thus in evidence, those with whom audiences are asked to sympathise (frequently because they are heart-warming and comic rather than any oppression they might experience), and those repre- sented as a threat to society (for various different reasons). Demonstrating a continual attempt to refine its own formula, the cycle then placed these two archetypes in opposition to one another. Schatz describes a period of ‘refinement’ as formal and stylistic details being added. As he puts it: ‘we no longer look to the form to glimpse an idealized self-image, rather we look at the form itself to examine and appreciate its structure’21 – suggesting a withdrawal from narrative content and greater focus on how the story itself is conveyed. This emphasis on stylisation was particularly evident as the 1990s approached, with ‘good’ cyborgs being juxtaposed against ‘bad’ versions in films such as RoboCop 2 (Irvin Kershner, 1990) and Universal Soldier (Roland Emmerich, 1992). A propensity towards either virtue or villainy is simplistically delineated between each figure and although science has created cyborg monstrosities who do not care about human life, this is balanced by more idealised cyborgs given the task of eradicating these malevolent entities. OCP and the US military may variously be at fault for trying to play god, but they have also safeguarded their own position through these figures, while additionally providing the battlefield in which cyborgs can slug it out together in the ultimate gladiatorial contest."