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IEET > Security > Life > Innovation > Vision > Bioculture > Contributors > Kyle Munkittrick

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Subversive Movie Ad Campaigns


Kyle Munkittrick
By Kyle Munkittrick
Pop Transhumanism

Posted: Aug 13, 2009

One of the glorious parts about living in NYC is that we get some of the more intense ad campaigns, particularly in the form of viral posters.


District 9

The trailer is amazing, the reviews are excellent, and the ad campaign, is, well, beyond important:

district9_3

I actually saw this next on a bus stop along 6th ave near 46th st:

district-9-posters-1

A very cool campaign, to say the least. Given the very clear references to our own troubled past regarding race-based rights restrictions and our current problems with gender/sexuality, it makes sense that District 9 would echo both campaigns. I’m kind of amazed they didn’t do it on subway cars too.

The other really amazing part about District 9 is that it forces the reader to consider rights as existing outside of the human condition. If an alien race has rights, then rights aren’t “God given” nor are they inherent to “being human.” In fact, the very concept of humanism is challenged by alien rights. Oh, and the aliens also augment their bodies with robotic exoskeletons.

The other movie that’s got me jazzed is:

Surrogates

The original comic was ok, a neat idea if only mediocre in execution, and the movie looks to be equally generic. What I love, though, are the posters. The concept of Surrogates is that everyone has a prosthetic body that they access from a terminal in their home, meaning physical society is made up of beautiful puppet-bots. These first two posters are designed to be ads for the company that makes the bots:



xxsurrogates_posters


xthe_surrogates_poster




These other posters have been all over NYC and use sexually provocative poses with the jarring exposure of mechanical parts in a way I really like:



surrogates_poster_3-535x156


surrogates_poster_2-535x156

xsurrogates-3




surrogates_poster_6



xxsurrogates_poster_5

There is something particularly strange about the middle poster, wherein it’s not the model’s midriff which is removed, but her chest. The effect created by all of these posters is an increased sexualization and objectification of the models because the sexually irrelevant portion of the body is the one exposed as mechanical. Furthermore, it creates a horrific, mechanized, exaggerated hourglass shape in all the models. Perhaps that’s what’s so unsettling about the blonde, female model: the exposed robotic spine, particularly sans robot ribcage, undoes the hourglass shape and shifts her into the truly uncanny.

I think it’s also telling that the campaign uses models, that is, abnormally attractive people. The whole point of Surrogates is that people use their artificial bodies for sex and existing more beautifully in the world. In that world, the normative standard of beauty is readily achievable through the purchase of a surrogate. One of the big problems I had with the graphic novel, and I’m sure the movie suffers the same fate, is that normative states, such as beauty standards, do not reflect the actual average person. So when a normative standard becomes the average, what happens to ideas of beauty?

I’ve talked about this before, but I think you’d see way more eccentric and exotic forms of beauty than a society full of runway models. I’d guess that a technology like this would make people more expressive, not less. Consider how people will kit out their characters in something like World of Warcraft to intentionally look unique. Instead of a boring society of beautiful people, I’d actually expect something like the alt-reality world of Snow Crash, where people did impossible things to their surrogate (digital bodies) that would be inconceivable with flesh and blood.
Whether Surrogates itself is any good, it’s asking all the right questions.

Can’t wait to see both of these movies.


Kyle Munkittrick, IEET Program Director: Envisioning the Future, is a recent graduate of New York University, where he received his Master's in bioethics and critical theory.
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COMMENTS


Interesting, your comment about your thinking the citizens in this future society would “trick out” their surrogates.  How many people dress well in Las Vegas anymore, vs. the schlubs who arrive in shorts and t-shirts?  How many people have you seen on b-boards with avatars comprised of pop culture images, or no avatar at all, a blank slate?  Part of the dumbing down of the culture is that it makes even our dreams embarrassingly dull.

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