I am taking a Coursera course from The University of Edinburg called “E-Learnings and Digital Cultures.” As part of the course students were asked to watch The Bendito Machine III (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiXOigfDb0U) and consider its viewpoint. My analysis is below.
The Bendito Machine III is a cleverly animated and humorous short film with a dystopian view on technology. The film centers on media as a technology causing disruption but I felt it was making a broader statement on all technology.
The film reduces the relationship between technology and society into a the following formula:
1. The Creation of New Technology - The delivery of the machine (the new technology) from a “divine source” which I interpreted as a technological deterministic view. So even though humans seek new tech, signified by the struggle up the hill, ultimately the tech controls and changes society.
2. Discarding the Existing Tech - The arrival of the new tech results in the old tech being discarded into an ever growing heap. As part of this cycle a few tribe members are casualties of this change. I saw this as a view of those unwilling/unable to adapt to the new tech effectively made irrelevant by the change.
3. Deification/Mindless Consumption of New Tech - The tech starts as something innocuous but ultimately takes control of their lives. It shapes and conforms the tribes social/economic/political views and enslaves them. The mid-20th TV montages are quite effective as the video jumps from messages of hope and dispair into a neatly wrapped package with a pleasant sound track.
4. Rinse/Repeat - Start over again with a new technology brought down from the proverbial mountaintop.
The film cleverly uses media tech as a metaphor for the new religion and opiate for the masses and as such strikes a chord. Where it misses is that it regards each new tech as simply a bigger/better replacement of the old one without recognizing any potential positive impact on society.
For example, television in the 20th century brought the world into each of our living rooms. Arguably, it helped galvanize support for social movement like civil rights, the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of Communism. Today’s technology enables the dissemination of information and knowledge without bounds. As it provides access to the world’s best educators, topples tyrants and brings us all closer.
I propose that rather than a dystopian view of a vicious cycle and a growing technological junkyards as suggested by the film, humanity instead is building a foundation where technology is a tool for human advancement.