Soft targets

While I’m anticipating the new version of Total Recall with Colin Farrell with a certain degree of relish, I can’t help but note that so far as late-80s Arnie dystopic movie remakes go, TR aims at much softer (because interplanetary farther-future etc) targets than The Running Man ever did.

The 2012 TR adaptation claims to be much more political than the 1990 version. I hope so.

Categories: arts & entertainment

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3 replies

  1. I did a lot of travelling recently, and The Running Man was on one night in a hotel room I was staying in. I couldn’t sit up and watch all of it because I had an early plane the next morning, but I was totally OMG! Eighties! and surprised at how much of a jab it was at reality TV and the like, which was not on my radar at all in the eighties.

    • Exactly! The original Bachman/King story on which the 1987 movie is loosely based is even harsher on the reality-TV idea than the movie – in the story there is no separate Game zone, the Runners are allowed to go anywhere in the world, and citizens earn prizes for reporting their whereabouts to the Stalkers. So it can be quite disturbing viewing for some people, since the Norms are all complicit in the Bad Stuff, and that can raise uncomfortable thoughts (much like the argument about the paparazzi endangering celebrities only because average people are more likely to buy magazines if there is a celebrity photo on the cover – if “we” didn’t buy them then “they” wouldn’t do it).
      This is why I refer to Total Recall as aiming at softer targets – it’s all about corporatised greed exploiting/oppressing the underclass, but (at least in the 1990 version) the underclass quite properly resents and despises the corporate kleptocracy rather than enthusiastically going along with the “game”. So it allows the audience to feel justifiably angry at the kleptocrat bad guys, without seeing people like themselves presented as complicit (and therefore worldview-challenging). Since this new version promotes itself as far more political, I’m hoping that this resentment of the lower orders is amplified, although it wouldn’t surprise me if they ruin it by making it more about competing elites because that’s supposed to be more dramatic.
      I also note that both versions of Total Recall have been produced within a few years of a major global financial crisis exacerbated by blatant and largely unpenalised corporate malfeasance. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

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