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Corpses, fetuses and zombies
The dehumanization of media users in
science fiction and mainstream media
Jill Walker Rettber...
The Matrix (1999)
Human as foetus
Eric Pickersgill: Removed (2015)
http://www.removed.social
I am saddened by the use of technology for
interaction in exchange for not interacting.
This has never happened before.
—E...
William Smith: Morley: Ancient and Modern. 1886. Page 75.
digital dualism
(Nathan Jurgensen)
This isn’t about the problems of digital connection, it’s
about propping oneself up as more human and alive.
By identifyin...
technology as
dehumanizing
Zombie
Corpse
Fetus
Undead or brainwashed. No
free will, cannot communicate.
Human body but no longer alive.
Human body bu...
The Matrix: Neo wakes up in his real body
It was like coming into the cold marbled room of a
mausoleum after the moon had set. Complete
darkness, not a hint of the ...
Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look.
His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like...
Wall-E - humans locked in chairs.
Apple’s 1984 ad.
Divergent (2014): People enslaved by a serum combined with t
Divergent (2014)
Zombie
Corpse
Fetus
Undead or brainwashed. No
free will, cannot communicate.
Human body but no longer alive.
Human body bu...
read more: jilltxt.net / @jilltxt
Corpses, Fetuses And Zombies: The Dehumanization of Media Users in Science Fiction and Mainstream Media
Corpses, Fetuses And Zombies: The Dehumanization of Media Users in Science Fiction and Mainstream Media
Corpses, Fetuses And Zombies: The Dehumanization of Media Users in Science Fiction and Mainstream Media
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Corpses, Fetuses And Zombies: The Dehumanization of Media Users in Science Fiction and Mainstream Media

This paper aims to connect the trope of the human imprisoned and isolated by media as it is expressed in dystopic science fiction to its expressions in mainstream discourse. I draw upon theories of immersion and digital dualism, while analyzing the trope across science fiction literature and films as well as in popular media. Works discussed include Fahrenheit 451 (1953), The Matrix (1999), Wall-E (2008), Ready Player One (2011), Divergent (2013) and I Forgot My iPhone (2013). I find that media is frequently seen as a threat that dehumanizes its user, and that this is expressed by showing the human user as a corpse, as a fetus, as motionless or as zombie-like. Even works that show the human as in control of media occasionally make use of this trope, and understanding this cultural imaginary of humans and media can help us understand contemporary media use and discourse.

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Corpses, Fetuses And Zombies: The Dehumanization of Media Users in Science Fiction and Mainstream Media

  1. 1. Corpses, fetuses and zombies The dehumanization of media users in science fiction and mainstream media Jill Walker Rettberg Professor of Digital Culture, University of Bergen
  2. 2. The Matrix (1999) Human as foetus
  3. 3. Eric Pickersgill: Removed (2015) http://www.removed.social
  4. 4. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before. —Eric Pickersgill, 2015
  5. 5. William Smith: Morley: Ancient and Modern. 1886. Page 75.
  6. 6. digital dualism (Nathan Jurgensen)
  7. 7. This isn’t about the problems of digital connection, it’s about propping oneself up as more human and alive. By identifying with and sharing the video, we can put ourselves in the protagonist’s shoes. I too recognize this! I am human and deep and carpe diem. But let’s consider the implication of showing others as robots who don’t live in the moment: you are basically saying they are less human in order to assert how above the unthinking-cellphone-zombie masses you are. Nathan Jurgenson, http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2013/08/26/the-problem- with-the-i-forgot-my-phone-video/
  8. 8. technology as dehumanizing
  9. 9. Zombie Corpse Fetus Undead or brainwashed. No free will, cannot communicate. Human body but no longer alive. Human body but not yet independent or able to communicate.
  10. 10. The Matrix: Neo wakes up in his real body
  11. 11. It was like coming into the cold marbled room of a mausoleum after the moon had set. Complete darkness, not a hint of the silver world outside, the windows tightly shut, the chamber a tomb-world where no sound from the great city could penetrate. The room was not empty. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451.
  12. 12. Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look. His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of a tomb, her eyes fixed to the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. The room was indeed empty. Every night the waves came in and bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning. There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea, had not gladly gone down in it for the third time. Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, 19
  13. 13. Wall-E - humans locked in chairs.
  14. 14. Apple’s 1984 ad.
  15. 15. Divergent (2014): People enslaved by a serum combined with t
  16. 16. Divergent (2014)
  17. 17. Zombie Corpse Fetus Undead or brainwashed. No free will, cannot communicate. Human body but no longer alive. Human body but not yet independent or able to communicate.
  18. 18. read more: jilltxt.net / @jilltxt

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