I watched the sequel to the first Hobbit film last night, and thought for the most part that, among other things, it was a wee better than the first. It got me thinking about several disparate ideas involving technology and how much of a part of our contemporary culture it has become.
It is an appendage of the modern world to be adored as much as it should be abominated. An indomitable wave of gadgets, cogs, and digital dropdown menus that are present in our everyday lives under, what I believe is, the guise of “convenience.” We find ourselves enamored of technology for now much more ‘convenient’ it makes our lives. Apple gives us iPods, iPads, iMacs, iEverythings. At any given moment in a room filled with people, we’re apt to find someone looking at his/her phone screen, or tablet screen, or laptop screen, or Google Lens screen (Have you seen those things?*).
There are screens now everywhere we go. Once we look away from one screen, we’re looking at another. If it’s not peering into the digital world of our laptop, it’s that of our smart phone, or our tablet, or the television screen in the corner of the “convenience” store, or the dentist office, or the sports bar, et cetera ad infinitum. And for what?
If you haven’t read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, stop and do so now. If you have read it, it is my dear hope that you’ve at least been able to sniff out the insidious nature of what’s really going down here.
There’s also the Kindle – the top-selling “e-reader” which allows the proletariat to feel like they’re finally ‘in control’ of their reading needs. You hear the proponents of these faux books vomit their nonsensical chunks of dumb with ideas like, “Dude, it’s sick. I have like 439 books on this thing. I also have 12 magazines subscriptions, 17 video games, a home improvement plan, all of the Harvard Psychology and Humanities curricula, the blueprints for the Eiffel Tower, the entire Mayan Empire, and the pyramids, the sequel to the Bible, and an instructional manual on how to make a sand-castle with nothing but dildos!”
Impressive! But how many of those are you actually going to read at any given time? Those are the folks who always tend to give me the same airplane reasoning – the kind that goes something like, “Yeah there’s no way I could carry all those books on a plane.” That’s true, but why the fuck would anyone carry that many books in a carry-on anyway? I don’t care how long your flight is; how many books does anyone read during a flight? Even if you’re abnormally speedy and can get through two to three books in a nine-hour flight, the rest of your reading needs can be pursued once you’re back on the ground.
Let’s talk games. Video games have been a love of mine since the get-go, and I can remember way back when my dad bought one of the first Atari game consoles. We sat there and plaed Pole Position for who knows how long. Now game graphics are so close to the real thing, we’re just steps away from stepping through the mirror into our own fabricated reality.
For those of you who don’t think that computers or robots will ever run the human race, I would ask yourselves to take a look in the mirror, point, and laugh. It’s all too certain of a future for our kind, and it’s only a matter of time before our conveniences make us into the slaves we’ve chosen to become. We are making things to take care of the stuff we don’t want to do. What does that mean? It means that cars are being made that park themselves, voice-activated television (because the remote control is just too much damn work), and we’re just a few years away from cars that drive themselves.
Okay, let’s get back to how this relates to Bilbo Baggins. Books, yeah, why would I want to read Lord of the Rings, when I can just get the entire story in a few hours by watching a screen? It’s laziness.
People are just damned lazy. I’m including myself in this as well. Who isn’t lazy? But I also happen to be known as a purist asshole. The beauty that exists with Tolkien’s works exist in the medium of text. That’s where the story is. Tolkien didn’t make the story for the screen to feed to a bunch of people who don’t know how to read. The majority of newspapers in the United States are written at the 8th grade level. When people try to take something like that and make a movie out of it, I’d like to say that it doesn’t bother me. It does.
Cloud Atlas is a 528-page book and was tragically made into a movie. The movie was one movie. It was three hours, but it was still one movie. The Hobbit is around 300 pages, and it’s three fucking three-hour movies. Three of them! Is there anyone who doesn’t see this as trying to suck extra $$ out of the masses?
The more we give up cerebration, exercising the very basic tool that human beings possess, the more we’ll lose the capacity for that exercise.
Technology, I love, but I would urge my kind to recognize a limit. Let’s not allow ourselves to be rushed to the top of the mountain before realizing that we’re not quite sure how to get back down.