Robots and RerunsOctober 10, 2015
I missed posting the previous week's column on the new tech thriller Mr.Robot here, so I'm posting that, as well as this week'...
While the idea of hacking has been something that has always fascinated me, its portrayal in film and television has been mostly stereotypical — the “hacker” is either a really skinny, or grossly overweight guy, who wears a pair of chunky glasses, brings in words like “bypass”, “security protocol”, “router” and “access” to the conversation, and is the one to crack a few jokes every time the rest of the group gets serious. All we know about the hacker is that he’s the guy who can solve any problem in minutes by furiously typing on a keyboard.Mr. Robot is a series that revolves around hacking and one that takes its technology very seriously. Unlike most film or television portrayals, where it’s only the hacker’s keyboard that’s seen, here we’re shown his computer screen. There are no special visual effects to make the hacking seem cool. What makes the hacking exciting, are the characters and their stories. The show follows the perspective of Elliot (Rami Malek), a computer programmer with antisocial disorder. We are audience to everything that goes on in his head (there is one episode where we can even see his drug-induced dreams).
Watching television shows is my way of relaxing, and I have a long list of TV shows to catch up on right now, and yet, on the days when I truly just want to kick back and let some steam out, I almost never reach for a new episode of a show I’m watching, or even a new show. I take my trusty hard disk out and watch reruns of either Friends, Gossip Girl or Sex And The City.When I watch a rerun, I know exactly where the episode is heading. I know that Phoebe does find her soulmate, and that Chandler and Monica do end up having kids. I know that Blair will finally be with Chuck, and I don’t have to waste time thinking about who Gossip Girl really is. Most importantly, I know that Mr. Big comes back. I suppose reruns are like the visual equivalent of comfort food — they don’t require too much effort to watch, and yes, they are predictable, but deliciously so, and it is this predictability which keeps me coming back.I had watched each of these shows at a different point in time, and they each represent a different kind of nostalgia for me. Friends, I watched during high school. Gossip Girl was through my CA articleship and study holidays. Sex And The City, I binge-watched as I stepped into my twenties, although it was well done and dusted by then. The relationships that I had formed in my head with the show’s characters, as well as the way I had associated myself with them when I’d watched the show initially, was a reflection of my identity, and what was going on with me at that time.