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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tron (1982)

So, I haven't seen the new Tron film. However, I have found that the old one, while lacking in the modern technology we have grown to love, offers us incite to the complex relationship we have with technology.

Kevin Flynn’s journey into the pixelated world of video games represents the struggle of gamers face to maintain identity in a digital world. He is literally attacked on every side by the forces of a digital world. He is a foreigner there, different than his comrades. He has abilities that computer programs will never have: intuition, self-will, and identity. However, he has to fight for the identity that he has because, if he loses the gaming world then he loses in reality. This is a false ideal that avid gamers have. They place their life inside of the game, in essence pixelating themselves just as Flynn does in in Tron, and if they do not win they lose in real life.

            When Flynn is pixilated it is not by accident. He is moments away from hacking into Master Command Program and shutting it down. Then his physical identity is taken by force. He becomes a lost soul, floating in an unknown area. This represents the journey that many adults face as they enter into a digital world. These “immigrants” to the digital nation feel lost, alone and confused. On the other hand, adolescents are citizens and therefore are adept to the culture and practices of this new world. Flynn, however, is a scholar of the digital nation. He has experience that is necessary for survival. He is a programmer and avid gamer.

            However, when Flynn realizes that the games are a battle to the death “reality” sets in. There is no longer a separation between reality and virtual reality. They are one in the same.  What a shock this would have been to his identity. It mirrors the events that happen in real life for Flynn. Computer programs brought his downfall through theft because information has no tangible form; it is all letters and numbers on a screen for him. When those letters and numbers go missing there is no way to track them and he looses his work, everything he based his identity on.

            One of the principle characters in the film, Dumont, states, “All that is visible must grow beyond itself, and extend into the realm of the invisible.” This I believe is near the central message of the film. Society is a world of connection, now more than ever. We are no longer connected by railroads, highways, or even skyways. We are connected through the invisible force of the Internet. We are constantly surrounded at all times by waves of information. One can find anything in these waves from how to cook a roast to how to manufacture plutonium. We’re taking tangible items: pictures, DVDs, journals, and replacing them with pixels that at there roots are only ones and zeros. All that once was visible has extended itself into the realm of the invisible and only if you are able to connect then you can access it.

            Through its exploration of identity and reality Tron becomes a metaphor for the struggle of society to maintain the physical nature of life. Kevin Flynn becomes a representation of each e-identity that people have. His goal is to become whole again, to regain the physicality that is his right as a human being.

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