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IEET > Rights > Life > Vision > Bioculture > Staff > Kyle Munkittrick

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Do Superhero Movies Make Us More or Less fearful of Transhumanism?


Kyle Munkittrick
Kyle Munkittrick
Science and Religion Today

Posted: Mar 22, 2011

The short answer: Superhero movies are far more inclined to make us fearful of transhumanism.

The long answer: Think about the superhero movies that you enjoyed or really got into. Now think about how that hero became a hero. The Fantastic Four, Hulk, Spider-Man, and even Hellboy are the result of science gone awry. Iron Man and Batman are the result of exceptional, unfathomable wealth, talent, and dedication being impossibly found in a single human being. Super-Man and Thor aren’t even human beings. The Watchmen are a team of crazy people allied with a deity. The X-Men are mutants whose continued evolution is both unexplained and terrifying, resulting in a genetic race war. The overall message is simple: The odds of anyone becoming super are next to nil, the odds of you becoming super are worse than zero, and the human cost of becoming super is horrific and unavoidable.

Now look at a movie like Limitless or Gattaca or Frankenstein. What is the cost of overreach? Insanity, genetic castes, and abomination. Even an extremely science friendly show, Star Trek, has episodes critiquing efforts at enhancement, be it cybernetic or genetic. The video game series Deus Ex involves nano-augmentations, but takes place in a society so dystopic and broken that it makes most conspiracy theorists’ worries seem downright minor. Overall, entertainment tells us enhancement is dangerous.

Read more here.


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


Kyle, I respectfully could not disagree more.

I gave a talk called “How Yucky Got Yummy—the Evolution of Empathy in Science Fiction” at the IEET Biopolitics of Popular Culture seminar and at the H+ Summit in December of 2009.

Here’s the presentation from the H+ Summit.  Unfortunately, they don’t show the screen much and my talk is very image based, so the point of what I’m saying is often missed.  Oh well…

Starts at 4:20 min into the clip:
http://www.justin.tv/clip/b27745ab7d5cd471

continues at the start of the clip:
http://www.justin.tv/clip/f93ae81887986246

I’d be interested in a dialogue after you watch the presentation.  Suffice it to say that the moment the enhanced are the protagonist, we empathize with them and cease to fear them as the ‘other.’





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