CORPSES, FETUSES AND ZOMBIES: THE DEHUMANIZATION OF MEDIA USERS IN SCIENCE FICTION AND MAINSTREAM MEDIA

Jill Walker Rettberg

Abstract


This paper aims to connect the trope of the human imprisoned and isolated by media as it is expressed in dystopic science fiction to its expressions in mainstream discourse. I draw upon theories of immersion and digital dualism, while analyzing the trope across science fiction literature and films as well as in popular media. Works discussed include Fahrenheit 451 (1953), The Matrix (1999), Wall-E (2008), Daemon (2009), Freedom (2010), Ready Player One (2011), Divergent (2013) and I Forgot My iPhone (2013). I find that media is frequently seen as a threat that dehumanizes its user, and that this is expressed by showing the human user as a corpse, as a fetus, as motionless or as zombie-like. Even works that show the human as in control of media occasionally make use of this trope, and understanding this cultural imaginary of humans and media can help us understand contemporary media use and discourse.

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