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Descartes Goes to Hollywood Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Sep 9th, 2021

Samantha Holland’s article addresses the ‘cyborg’ element in modern contemporary films and the philosophy surrounding cyborgs. Holland’s article focuses on Rene Descartes’ philosophy when analyzing the use of ‘half human-half machine’ characters in films.

Samantha Holland addresses various angles of the mind-body philosophy in this article including personal identity, dualism of beings, gender, and technology.

Throughout the article, the use of cyborgs in films is used as a tool of analysis by the author. This paper provides a précis of Holland’s “Descartes Goes to Hollywood: Mind Body and Gender in Contemporary Cyborg Cinema”.

The article begins by providing examples of how materialism and dualism are manifested in cyborg cinema. The movie “Robocop” is used to show both the materialistic OCP and the dual existence of Robocop (Holland 158).

Holland presents readers with an example of how the mind-body philosophy is the central theme in most cyborg films. According to the article, there are a lot of conflicting philosophies that are contained in most cyborg films. In most cases, the film will be seeking to perpetuate a certain viewpoint but it ends up bringing up a contradiction.

The conflict of the body and the mind is also the main theme in most cyborg films according to Holland. The author cites “The Terminator” and “Robocop” as examples of films with their main characters suffering from mind-body conflict.

The article addresses the gender element in cyborg cinema. According to the author, although cyborg creators insist on the authenticity of the cyborg’s body, they also enhance the cyborg’s gender-look. The article cites the muscled Terminator and the feminine Cherry as examples of the emphasized gender-look in cyborgs.

The article points out that the reason for gender emphasis in cyborg cinema is to maintain the body-essence and exploit gender roles. In addition, the article faults the notion that cyborgs are meant to go beyond gender boundaries and that they do not emphasize the common gender stereotypes.

The author points out how the titles of cyborg films such as “Robocop”, “Cherry”, and “Eve of Destruction” are gender specific (Holland 165).

The article continues by covering the feminist myth in most cyborg films. According to the author, most producers only try to portray strong female characters but they do not succeed. The portrayal of Sarah Connor in “Terminator” is used as an example of how feminism is usually misused in cyborg cinema.

It is argued that feminism is portrayed in both narrative and visual levels in cyborg films. The masculine male body possessed by most cyborgs is an example of the visual portrayal of the ‘strong male-gender’. The article also addresses the issue of how cyborg cinema portrays reproduction.

According to the author, the ability to reproduce without using the female element can be interpreted as chauvinistic. The role of the cyborg cinema in the modern world is also addressed. Holland believes that cyborg cinema not only addresses future events but also present events. In addition, they serve as a critique of the human views on mind-body relations.

The article concludes by noting that the cyborg cinema represents only the more acceptable notions of the body-mind theories. In addition, most cyborg films highlight the dualism of human beings and other forms. However, no film has been able to portray Descartes’ body-mind philosophy on an advanced level.

The author also notes that most cyborg technology focuses on the machine-human interface as opposed to the human-machine interface. Therefore, most cyborg films are a manifestation of the growing anxiety over the increasing use of technology.

Works Cited

Holland, Samantha. “Descartes Goes to Hollywood.” Cyberbodies/Cyberpunk: Cultures of Technological Embodiment. Ed. Mike Featherstone and Roger Burrows. New York, NY: Sage, 1996. 157-174. Print.

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