Geri-Antics: Modern technology interlude

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, December 14, 2023

By Anne Carmichael

Columnist

While I understand my personal opinions on any movie are irrelevant, it is because this movie deals with the very topic into which we have been delving, i.e. modern technology, that I am compelled to explore it in depth.

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The premise of this film is derived from a novel by Rumaan Alam. The feature movie called “Leave the World Behind” on Netflix stars Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawk, Mahershala Ali, and Kevin Bacon.

When I think of Julia Roberts, I still think first of “Pretty Woman” and “Steel Magnolia” because I loved them and have watched them both dozens of times; however, I have strayed into other genres at a gradual pace (just as I believe Ms. Roberts has done in her career) to the more dramatic and movies with a voice-first to “Mystic Pizza” (actually made before “Pretty Woman”) then on to statement pieces such as “Erin Brockovich” and fast-paced dramas like the “Ocean” series. My personal preferences always return me to what I call her “heart” movies like “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Runaway Bride.”

So, from the opening scene in “LTWB,” I knew I was about to have an experience like no other in Julia Roberts’ evolution. I must admit to some hesitancy in doing so. I’m glad I persevered.

I am striving to become more open-minded in my personal choices of reading material and movie choices. I venture into the unknown as I understand that the ‘food’ with which I nourish my brain invariably expands my writing capability.

During the pandemic, I treaded uncharted waters and devoured books and other media exploring the criminal mind. Since doing so, I have been writing a novel about a serial killer. I found that subjects that are too disturbing and disgusting make the changing world around me less frightening.

Not so with “Leave the World Behind.” This movie brought all the monsters out from under the bed, gave them names, and made even the most far-reaching scenarios plausible. The door to my worst nightmares has now been flung wide open, and I find myself this morning afraid to open the blinds and see whether the world around me changed while I slept.

For once, I hope to forget what I saw and experienced last night during the 2-hour and 21-minute reality thriller. I want nothing more than to bury my head in the sand and pretend that the world we currently reside in does not have the technology to control driverless cars, aircraft programmed to fall from the skies and oil tankers that run aground on affluent beaches.

I want to be blind to the fact that our society has become dependent on cell phones, computers, and media broadcasts telling us what’s happening in the world around us at any given moment.

I hope to erase the memory of animals coming out of the woods and venturing into cities that were once their habitat. I saw that phenomenon with my own eyes during the months humans were quarantined in our homes during the pandemic, so I know that is not only possible but likely.

Thus far, in my nearly 73 revolutions around the sun, I have been successful in my attempt to ignore, disavow, reject, and even repudiate all the conspiracy theories that routinely circulate via the written, visual, and verbal party line. “LTWB” has made those efforts more difficult than ever to disregard.

Rarely does a week go by that someone from my parent’s generation or the more religious segment of society fail to warn me that the apocalypse is near. The “signs,” they say, are materializing, and prophesies are coming to fruition. I have overheard these admonitions all my life, and up until now, I’ve espoused the theory that every generation in the continuum we call life has both feared and expected that Earth will cease to rotate on its axis at any moment. “Things just can’t get any worse. We can’t continue to go on as we are,” they say.

I’m sure that when the great floods came, citizens of the world frantically gathered up their loved ones and told them, “This is it.” When President Lincoln was assassinated, when Kennedy was assassinated, when the planes crashed into the towers, “This is it,” we whispered.

For weeks, I have, with tongue-in-cheek, told you how technological advances have made life challenging for those of us of advanced age, all the while making the younger generation’s life more streamlined and manageable.

But the oldest living generation’s exhortations are becoming deafening and more ear-piercing, just as the glass-shattering sonic shrills in the movie. They urge us to wake up and see what’s happening around us. They want us to know that convenience luxuries are addictive, and like any addiction to chemicals, they can result in our demise.

Since 9/11, we have been urged to report to the authorities anything that seems out of the norm. “If You See Something, Say Something” is a slogan promoted by Homeland Security. For example, an errant backpack sitting unattended in a crowded location, a child that seems frightened by the adult in whose care they appear to reside, or a spouse who appears to have been battered. All good practice until we fear even the government and those in charge cannot be trusted.

And there’s the rub. My takeaway from “LTWB” is that every “man” (in the collective human consciousness) must be vigilant and determine what is necessary and controllable to ensure our continued existence.

This is not a warning or a doomsday caveat. It’s simply me encouraging each of us (myself included) to pull our heads out of the sand and prioritize as individuals what is and is not essential to our survival.

Can we live without seeing that next episode of “Friends?” Should we drive to Sam’s Club and stock up on canned goods and water? If we were forced to live off the grid with no cell phones, are we prepared to take care of our loved ones? And if so, which of them do we trust implicitly with our life?

Ask the big questions now. Take stock of the essentials to sustain your physical existence and your knowledge of self.