Some thoughts on Blaxites

Good morning, all. I look forward to being together for class again today and discussing all that has been going on and what we have to do moving forward. As for this week’s media, Blaxites, I definitely found it a little eerie. Frames I really enjoyed, but found it was slightly more removed from us due to the technology, though only just barely. I still felt the point of the film and appreciated it, but this week’s film felt even closer.

From beginning to end we see the progression that Jai goes through with her phone, and more generally with her social presence. One thing I always appreciate with short films or stories like these is that there is a give and take. When used for “good,” social connectivity can offer us exactly what we desire, and can stop where we desire it to stop. We can keep up with friends, appointments, we can use it to make life easier, or we can do none of those things and still feel free and in control. A lot of fiction in this vein takes place from the perspective of people who have already recognized that they have passed beyond a certain point of control that technology has over them. I would say this film on the other hand is taking place in exactly the moment when that realization happens.

I’m sure it has happened to all of us, that moment when things that we do come back to us in ways we don’t expect, but we still just manage to shrug it off. But we then experience a subsequent event which shakes us more, and leaves us in a different place forever. That may sound a bit extreme, and this film uses a somewhat extreme case to highlight it, but I would go so far as to say it is believable. For all that we agree to which we barely even recognize, what privacy we give up extends to so much that it would not be a wonder for it to eventually become physical like this. There are already monitoring programs like this for people with some criminal event, and I think that is a big part of this film: for the sake of convenience, should we continue to be made to feel like we are criminals giving up our right to our personal lives just because the modes to extract that data exist?

I cannot say I would ever be able to or even want to live off the grid as was shown in Blaxites. I do not want to make it seem like humanity is in too deep and we could not do without technology, but however naively I do believe there is a happy medium here. And I do think an interesting question for the narrative is: “What is Blaxites exactly?” I went back and rewatched the segment where her friend took her to the clinic (is “clinic” the right word?) to see if there was anything to pick up on. It’s hard to tell if it was mostly some kind of underground pharmacy, since the logo was the Pac-Man symbol, and Pac-Man eats pills? Is that thinking too deeply into it? In any case I wondered if there wasn’t a meaning there that no matter how carefully you think you’re being, there may still be levels of surveillance you aren’t even aware of, and that could get you into even more trouble for yourself. And even if that isn’t exactly the message there, the events in the film were still cautionary. If people shouldn’t just remove themselves from the social-media grid, and even if they do we know for sure that things do not end there, then caution and above all awareness is the key takeaway.

2 replies on “Some thoughts on Blaxites”

Excellent points Dylan! “should we continue to be made to feel like we are criminals giving up our right to our personal lives just because the modes to extract that data exist?” – that is such an important question. We do sacrifice privacy a lot through monitoring. Your Pac-Man reference is great, I didn’t notice it! You also have an interesting point re: give and take. Great work, as always. Best, Medea.

I too appreciate the details you notice, Dylan. It added much to our discussion.

A question might be, can we even go “off” the grid? Yes, getting rid of a smartphone is a good chunk, but as Chris Gilliard pointed out in our discussion, just being out in public (well when we could do that) gets you surveilled- license plate scanners, store videos are easy to consider, but there are more. When we planned the class I had hoped for an activity to look at all your actions during the day might be a point of data being extracted. Every point of sale transaction? Checking in to appointments? What happens when you see a doctor, filing tax returns, applying for a bank account, where there is data going?

I hope these films and discussions might be germinating ideas for something small and ordinary in your routines, that you could play out as your own speculative fiction.

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