Saturday, March 01, 2008

a philosophy of The Terminator

Since the end of January, I have been an ardent watcher of the new television show, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. So far this is really a decent show! I have to admit that I was a fan of all things “Terminator” because of the movies, so I am not convinced that the show will convert anyone necessarily. I agree that there is an inherent problem that arises when a TV show or film is based around some sort of time travel concept. Plus, they can be pretty cheesy! Nonetheless such problems should not detract what he overall depth of a story (just ask any LOSTies after last Thursday time travel episode, which was phenomenal).

Something struck me in last week’s episode of Terminator. In the closing monologue, Sarah Connor narrates these words.

“Science now performs miracles like the god’s of old. Creating life from blood cells or bacteria or a spark of metal. But they are perfect creatures, and in that way they couldn’t be less human. There are things machines will never do. They cannot possess faith. They cannot commune with God. They cannot appreciate beauty. They cannot create art. If they ever learn these things, they won’t have to destroy us. They’ll be us.”

Don’t assume right off the bat that I am making any one-to-one correlations between this narration and the Christian faith. Nonetheless, what I find most interesting about these words is the concept of humanity. This narration seems to suggest that faith/communing with God and the ability to create art are the primary characteristics of what makes one human. These words take on much more depth and significance when heard while watching the scene unfold. In the show Sarah narrates the last part of these words over a scene where Thomas, a human from the future, is watching Cameron, the terminator sent back in time to project John Connor, performing ballet. Thus, one understands the perplexity revealed in his face when he sees a machine, artificial intelligence doing that which most characterizes humanity, performing art; something beautiful. A friend of mine raised a very poignant question about whether or not Cameron was just repeating what she saw in her ballet class. As a machine/articificial intelligence, she has the ability to repeat anything she sees or hears.

Another interesting point to consider is the perplexity of Thomas’s face. Consider how the roles reverse when human’s become so bent on their own survival that they neglect to do the very things that make them human (as revealed in the quote). Perhaps in trying to survive against the machines/artificial intelligence, humanity has turned into them: cold, ruthless, and narrow-minded.


Rusty Brian said...

I agree with you and have been watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles too. The show is interesting, I don't think that there's much continuity between the Sarah Connor from the movies and the Sarah Connor in this show, but oh well. Your final comment seems especially appropriate given Sarah's increasingly cold dialogue the Terminator girl (I forget her name). I think she will turn eventually, and it will be because she begins to see humans as cold, nasty and narrow-minded. Who knows.

By the way, have you seen that a new Terminator movie is in the works? Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins. It's set in the future, and apparently highlights the last of the humans struggling against the machines after a nuclear holocaust. Christian Bale is playing John Connor...I'm stoked for that! No word yet about the Governator!

Scott Savage said...

Good to hear from you. I have not heard about the four Terminator movie, but I'm stoked. Maybe they will redeem some of third film!

By "turn" do you mean to imply that Cameron (the terminator) will turn again Sarah, John, and company? Or do you mean that Sarah will see that she is becoming like a machine?

I have been really drawn in by the story so far. I hope that it continues to develop that way it has. The last two episodes were by far the best. The episode that aired to two weeks that gave us some insight into John beginning to use terminators and to send people back in time was awesome!


Rusty Brian said...

I mean "turn" as in against Sarah and John. I hope not, but it would be interesting, as I would say that if fault was to be assessed, Sarah would be at the top.