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November 2013, Week 4


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Craig Martin <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 24 Nov 2013 05:00:00 +1100
text/plain (80 lines)
Dear Sarah,

This sounds like a very interesting subject to teach! Looking at the films
included in your list, there seems to be a need to define the parameters a
little more clearly as this topic can go in so many directions. Here are
some possible sub-categories that might be useful (along with some films
that I think work really well):

- Dystopianism and technology: *1984* (1984), *THX 1138* (1971), *The
Hunger Games* (2012).
- Artificial Intelligence gone haywire: *Demon Seed* (1977),
*Westworld*(1973), and *Eagle
Eye* (2008), *Electric Dreams* (1984), *Hardware* (1990), and the*
X-Files*episodes "Kill Switch" (season 5, episode 11), and "Ghost in
the Machine"
(season 1, episode 7).
- Possessed screens/machines: *Ghost in the Machine* (1993), *Shocker*(1989),
*Shutter* (2004/2008) and *A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy's Dead*(1991).
- Screen-based devices used for questionable purposes: *The Dark
Knight*(2008), *Minority
Report (2002), Catfish* (2010), anything from the brilliant British
series *Black
Mirror*, but especially season 1, episode 2 "Fifteen Million Merits".

The title of your unit is provocative and has me asking questions about
what are "bad" devices, which moves into the arena of ethics. There has
been a lot of work done on the topic of ethics and automation, Artificial
Intelligence, Human Robot Interaction (HRI), Ambient Intelligent systems
(AmI), unmanned weapons, debates concerning privacy, cyber-crimes and so on
that may prove useful.

There is also the issue of bad devices insomuch as their influence on
particular audiences such as children (ie. Media Effects, censorship and
moral panic). See: Eamon Carranbine (2008) *Crime, Culture and the Media*,
Polity Press, and Denis McQuail (1997) *Audience Analysis*, Sage
Publications. See also Scott Campbell (2008), "Social Implications of
Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society" in *Sociology
Compass*, vol. 2, iss. 2.
It would be easy to inundate you with suggested readings, but I think
setting limits on how you approach the topic(s) is crucial. All the best
with assembling your course and I hope that together with other responses
to your email you find something useful.

Craig Martin
La Trobe University
Melbourne, Australia

On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 8:14 AM, [log in to unmask] <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dear all,
> I am teaching a course next semester on "Bad Devices": that is,
> contemporary media/technology in films and television wherein the
> camera/video, television, radio, telephone/mobile phone, Internet, GPS,
> gaming etc. become devices of tragedy, mishap, power-play, evil, even
> supernatural force that mess us up: Face in the Crowd, Quiz Show, Truman
> Show, Mothman Prophecies, Blair Witch Project, Ring/Ringu, Shadow of the
> Vampire, the holodeck in Star Trek, Matrix, eXistenZ, possibly BBC Sherlock
> (Scandal in Belgravia). I would greatly appreciate any advice on this
> topic-- there are so many possibilities in Anime and Manga, for instance,
> in films about "haunted technology" (a website devoted to it), but I would
> like some guidance on focusing it and on the most relevant criticism to
> give to my students.
> Thanks,
> Sarah Higley
> ----
> Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite

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