Monday, March 5, 2012

Essay #1: A Good Life?

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Matt Sleutjes

English 114B

A Good Life?
            Identity is not only the single hardest question that one attempts to find out about themselves, but it was the very interesting topic of discussion within our class. By learning about the theme of identity we watched the bazar movie Gamer. Gamer took place in the future of present time and was based upon the idea of being able to rent out ones mind and functions of life to another human who would control them. There were three main groups within the movie: the players who would rent people to play them, the free people who would rent themselves to be played and used in “Society”, and the death row inmates who would be played in the game Slayer. There was quite a significant class structure formed between these two groups; in which way you may be able to sort of compare to todays class structure. What one may also notice what is quite interesting is how no one person is acting as themselves. Nearly everybody is not expressing themselves in either a physical or mental sense because everyone is either being played or playing someone else.
            I will explain how the world in Gamer works to help further clarify everyone. The players can rent someone’s mind and functions  for a specific dollar cost. There are two groups of people who can be played. Prisoners as well as people in the free world can be played. Prisoners are played and will get a reduced sentence or be released if the survive through the game named Slayer where they are played by players. The prisoners can actually be killed in the combat scenario game that Slayer is. The free citizens who can be played are played in a game called “Society.” It is a game that seem to be much like a big rave and orgy. They are basically whoring
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themselves out for other people to play as them. It is almost as if all of real life has turned into one big virtually reality role playing game.
            The class structure within gamer is quite interesting. The players in their world are looked at as the upper-class, the ones with the money to be able to afford to play the costly game. The “Actors”, or the ones being played, are looked down upon quite a bit. There is a stereotype that they cannot do what the players can do. For example when Kable’s wife Angie goes into the child services office to apply to get her daughter back from foster parents the department agent told her that she probably was not fit to be a mother or capable of taking of her child since she was a “Actor” in “Society.” But this can somewhat be related to todays world if a prostitute try to get her child back from Child Protective Services. The prostitutes claim most likely would not go over that well. The comparison of these claims is a bit exaggerated but there are very big similarities between the two. Then that leads us to the prisoners, which are obviously
            The players are definitely look up at in the movie, but there is a class within the players as well. The kid who was playing Kable was a very rich boy living in a huge technologically advanced mansion while the guy who was playing Angie was a fat, smelly, and ugly man with huge sausage fingers who lived in a dark poor looking apartment. While Angie who is portrayed as to be not as fit as the sausage fingered man it appears that she has a nicer place and she has more composure then he does. Now this is where the class structure does not really make sense compared to todays world. Looking at the situation within the eyes of today world the fat man should be in a lower class but he is thought of as upper class just because he is not the one who is being played.

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            In gamer no one acts as themselves as an individual. People either express their mental personality in someone else’s physical body or they express they are being used as a physical puppet for someone else’s personality. Everyone is portraying someone else’s identity in either the physical or mental sense. Instead of people trying to find their own identity within themselves they hire actors to be who they really want to be. This is a big difference between today’s life and the life portrayed in the future through gamer because you have to express who you are through your body in the present day. The struggle in gamer to find your identity is near impossible in Gamer compared to the difficulties it is hard to find today.
            Who really has the better so called life though? The Fat man in isolation or Annie who is controlled by him as her day job. Both seem to have a poor quality  of life but I think I would actually rather be the lower class girl being used, even though she does not live her specific life all the time she does live in a world outside of a dark living room. No one wants to live either life, it is sad that it appears that in Gamer you cannot portray your own self. And that is why at the end of the movie when the game system is shut down everyone feels better in a ironic sort of way.
            Looking into the future seems scary if you look at from the way Gamer portrays it. There is a lack of identity within people today because of the judgment of our culture but it seems like games such as “Society” and “Slayer” in Gamer would make things much more complicated then they already are today. The social classes are quite apparent when watching gamer but are not justifiable in the lifestyle of those in Gamer. Everyone needs to learn to be themselves and portray life through their eyes, hands, and thoughts rather then anyone else whether it is in this lifetime of the future. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Matt,

    This is an interesting look into identity as it exists (or doesn't exist) in the fictional world of Gamer. Your conclusion seems accurate that both the user and the avatar (really the unit, i.e. Society's actors) are both unhappy.

    Even though Gamer is a work of fiction, parts of the film feel very familiar to our own lives. Is there a way you can incorporate the real with the fiction? The social worker is a good example. Or how about users of online social media such as Facebook or Second Life?

    I think examples may benefit your analysis and shed more light on why a movie like Gamer was made in the first place.