Browsing Cunningham Memorial Library by Subject "collection development"
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I Am the Databank: Humanity as Archive in Three Dystopian FilmsArchives, as repositories of information related to a person or community, can reveal much about a society’s character. As repositories of select information, archives serve an important social function. Since the information they contain is ‘worth knowing’ they are enculturative. In dystopian societies exploitation of the people is often achieved by controlling information. What data is collected, how and where it is stored, how and by whom it is managed and disseminated, and how it is officially interpreted figures largely in issues of propaganda, censorship, and privacy. Our data can become so internalized into our collective consciousness that we often interpret ourselves as artifacts of information, such as when our body art (i.e. tattoos) tells our personal story. In fiction we push this concept to the point that the human body becomes a literal archive. In Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and The Final Cut (2004) human beings are used as information repositories. Examining what information they preserve is as important as asking why their bodies become archives in their societies. The protagonists in these films attempt to manipulate the societal mechanisms that subjugate and dehumanize the citizenry by taking control of the data that is embedded in their own personhood. This act of rebellion not only serves a political function, but also becomes an act of personal transformation, a search for the nature of truth, and a re-examination of what it is that is ‘worth knowing’. How the characters in these films are alternately damaged and empowered by being turned into human archives is examined in an effort to expose different epistemological models and ways of coping with identity.