Thursday, June 16, 2011


I read something interesting today about the limits of human imagination. The writer was mulling over whether Airbus' proposed "see-through" plane of the future was a good idea. Just because we imagine it, he said, does that mean we should build it?

My first thought was: "I hope The Mile High Club gets disbanded".

Technology today means imagination no longer has to just live in our heads. Superheroes are real! At least on screen, anyway.

The imaginary world seems to coexist with ours. All it needs is time, we are told, for the real world to catch up.

It left me pondering the "responsibility" debates of the future. It seems like only a blink ago that Marilyn Manson's music was being blamed for the Columbine High School Massacre. If sound can inspire such arbitrary savagery, what about the hyper clarity of blue-ray, 3D media or the eventual 'immersive holographic entertainment'?

And the reality show craze, creating a generation of people famous because they're...famous.

Could we be warping the supple minds of the future?

In the superhero world, for example, the most famous heroes have their powers bestowed by some sort of awful accident or tragedy: Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider; Batman's entire family was murdered in front of him; The Hulk was a scientist named Bruce Banner, exposed to Gamma Radiation from an atomic blast; and Superman's planet exploded. You know, everyday stuff.

I have wondered how would the great Superheroes have really ended up in the real world:

"Peter Parker, a mild mannered photographer is bitten by a radioactive spider...the resulting wound becomes horribly infected and eventually gangrenous, leading to amputation...."

"Bruce Banner, a US Army scientist, is suddenly caught in the wake of an American atomic test. The resulting Gamma radiation infuses his DNA....resulting in a number of tumors which become inoperable. He was 41."

"In the wake of last night's unexpected meteor shower, police have discovered a large impact crater in a cornfield in Smallville, USA. The meteor appears to have been destroyed on impact, with the only remnants discovered being a charred scrap of red fabric with what looks like an "S" on it....."

You get the point.

With what modern technology in movies and TV can accomplish, the imaginary is closer to looking "real" than ever. Just ask Robert Pattinson, who gets Twilight fans begging him to bite them. The debate will come, one day, where creators will have to argue whether they have a duty of care to the fragile minds in the world.

Someone, someday, will argue that a "3D movie made me do it".

At the same time, a conservative politician will blame videogames, music and/or movies for turning this person into a ruthless criminal. "Just because you can imagine it", he or she will say, "doesn't mean you should make it."

Should we just be telling stories, or making something that elevates the perception of our audience?

I honestly don't have an answer but, then again, I did always want to be Batman.