Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Conflation Nation

We saw Live Free or Die Hard this morning with benlinus and fermi_daza. I had a good time -- it's refreshing to have my heat-induced urge to wreak havoc channeled into virtual violence -- but had even more of my, "Wait a minute, that detail is all wrong," moments, even though I know that accuracy is hardly a priority for the action blockbuster genre. I guess what surprised me is how little the film's creative team cared about obvious mistakes. This is a trend I've been noticing for a while now in mainstream Hollywood productions. Still, I think Live Free or Die Hard takes it to another level. I mean, it's one thing to have outdoor scenes supposedly set in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area suffused with Southern California light, but another entirely to have a plain-as-day sign for California 118 on an overpass.

More interesting to me than such geographic miscues, however, was the way that the film consistently ignored the difference between virtual reality and "real" reality. Sure, it's a story about cyber-terrorism. But does that mean that characters should be magically transported from one location to another many miles away as rapidly as if they'd been teleporting through the Star Trek universe? Live Free or Die Hard is a film about how vulnerable we are to computer attack that imagines a world in which the distinction between cyberspace and "meat space" collapses. Given the retro aura of Bruce Willis's lead, this is a curious phenomenon. Even as the picture wants to insist on the continuing relevance of his old-school approach to fighting the bad guys, it confuses his actions with the movement of data on the internet. Maybe that's the film's underlying message -- it began life as a Dot Com-era story in Wired magazine, after all -- but it's one that would seem to render the heroism it represents on its surface an anachronism. Stay tuned for further thoughts on this topic. . .
Tags: film, technology

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