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Technology/fractured : an inquiry into the circulation of information technology in consumer capitalism Teymouri, Hamed

Abstract

This inquiry seeks to explore historical patterns connecting the development of information technology and its proliferation in the shape of goods and services in postwar America. I take the two Terminator films as case studies in these cultural relations. These films, as many others from the period between the late 1980's and early 1990's, present technology as a threat to humanity. In the case of the Terminator narrative the threat is total, in the sense that machines actually destroy the world to exterminate all humans. The survivors of this imagined war — those who were not killed by man-made weapons — face the terror of machine-made weapons. The most fearsome of these are the human-looking cyborgs, the Terminators. The central argument of this inquiry is that this narrative premise and all of its attendant effects do not produce a viable critique of the rapid proliferation of technology in culture; still less do these films stand to question the cultural and economic arrangements which underlie the production of technological commodities. Works by Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and Baudrillard constitute the theoretical sources of this argument. In addition, I have borrowed the notion of "fractured identities" from Donna Haraway. I will attempt to show that this notion, very similar to the operation of the Terminator films, fails to substantiate an avenue of critique and liberation. Rather, the notion of fractured identities, appears to serve the logic of consumerism.

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