Having just seen Terminator for the first time, I was surprised to find that it’s sort of a decent movie, in its hokey way. Some of it’s almost unwatchable–Linda Hamilton’s final few scenes, for example, and the times when 1984’s special effects bite off more than they can chew. But the idea of people from the future being more machinelike than the machines they’re fighting is sort of cute, and I feel sure that Scrimshander could find a way to quote Blake (the child is father to the man perhaps?) in service of his observation that there’s some kind of trauma narrative going on at the heart of it. The future goes back into the past in order to enact the inverse of an oedipal drama perhaps? Only Scrimshander knows.

But I do find it interesting that, in 1984, the humans in the post-apocalyptic future have won their war with the machines. After all, John Connor has to be killed because the machines have (in the future) already been defeated. The plot, therefore, isn’t a desperation hail mary play to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, as I had always assumed, but a last minute block of the other team’s goal line scramble. This surprised me. Think about it: how often do movies set in the post-apocalyptic future presume that the human race has a future? Practically never, I would imagine. Instead, it seems to me, the genre stems from a cold war fear that mankind’s machines have outstripped our humanity and destroyed our future, a fact having everything to do with the fact of The Bomb. This is why the idea of reproduction is always so central to such movies (and in that sense Children of Men is a lovely recent example); in the post-apocalyptic narrative, we suddenly ask ourselves if humanity has a future, and use the concrete example of physical reproduction to talk about the abstract idea of social reproduction.

So it’s interesting, at the least, that in 1984 this post-apocalyptic movie, with all the usual questions about whether or not humanity can continue despite its machines, decides to both assert that si, se puede, and to make the machines themselves the necessary cause for that lovely, stupid sex scene (after all, were it not for the machines, John Connor would never be born). Maybe this has something to do with Reagan era can-do optimism. Maybe it has something to do with learning to stop worrying and loving the bomb. Maybe, as Scrimshander suggested to me, there’s some kind of dream work being done.

Or maybe the filmmakers couldn’t think of any other plot that would necessitate a robot from the future returning to 1984 Los Angeles to kill someone. Which suggests to me a corollary to Occam’s razor: the simplest answer, all things being equal, tends to be the least interesting one to a blogger.

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