Proctor : September 2017
57 PROCTOR | September 2017 I took a ’70s odyssey And ended up with an internet-enabled dog Sometime back in the 1970s, my dad took me to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, because it had all of the things I looked for in a film back then, in that it was about space and a future where moon trips were regular occurrences. I was unconcerned about plot development, acting abilities and believable characters. My view back then was, basically, throw in some spaceships and a few lasers and the rest would take care of itself (it is fair to say that a good 90% of movies released these days would have been better off following this formula; indeed, the movie Titanic could be immensely improved by having a spaceship crash into the boat in the first five minutes, preferably with everybody responsible for the release of Titanic on board, because Titanic is such a bad movie it is hard to believe Adam Sandler was not involved somehow). It turned out to be quite fortunate that I wasn’t too interested in plots, because if 2001 had a plot it was not evident to me, nor has it become so in re-watchings as an adult or even after reading the book (a tome which makes Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time look like The Very Hungry Caterpillar). As near as I can figure, some monkeys find a big black stone, then we go into space, and astronaut Dave has computer problems which eventually turn him into a foetus, which may or may not destroy the world. Given that I usually end up on the floor in a foetal position, whimpering, whenever I deal with computer problems – especially if tech support is involved – I guess the plot may have made more sense than I thought. Of course, in a development that will surprise no one, Dave cures his computer problem by turning the computer off; had he known enough to simply switch it back on, things may have turned out better for him. For anyone who thinks that it is unlikely that a movie with a plot like that could be released, let alone be successful, I need to point out that the ’70s was a very strange time. It was a time of hope – hope that the Cold War would end, hope that we would soon have a base on the moon, hope that all the hippies and earth-mothers would stop claiming to be able to understand the meaning of life through the use of certain illegal substances and for God’s sake take a damn bath; hope that, above all, one day this sentence would end. It was also a time of rejecting authority, and the way things had always been done – rejecting conformity, conservatism and (this may have been due to the use of illegal substances) movies that made sense. This was particularly the case here in Australia, with the release of a series of movies that were about as easy to follow as the plot of Twin Peaks on a television with no sound. If you don’t believe me, you can determine for yourself – write down the following titles – The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, Alvin Purple, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Petersen – and take the list down to the video shop, and then remind yourself that there are no video shops anymore because we all download films. Also, burn that list, because if people find it on you they will think you are weird. It should go without saying for any regular readers that I have not yet embraced the whole downloading films thing, in the same way that I have not yet embraced poking myself in the eyes with burning sticks. When I was a kid – certainly back when I saw 2001 – we waited some years to see a movie in Australia, because the stone tablets on which the films were then chiselled had to be shipped out from the United States on barges pulled by flying dinosaurs; now of course kids download movies, often it seems before the films are actually made. I have concerns about downloading pretty much anything these days, because we finally have wi-fi and I now have to be concerned about all the things in the house that are wi-fi enabled and may be able to connect to the internet – a list of things that, at last count, included everything; even the dog has a chip. In fact, it would explain a lot if he were inadvertently downloading stuff over wi-fi, especially the way that, every now and again, he attacks the rug on which he sleeps with the sort of ferocity usually displayed by judges on reality TV shows – despite the fact that the rug has never harmed him in any way that I have seen. If he is secretly watching X-Factor or The Voice via his ID chip, it would explain such acting out, as well as why he has the mental agility of Vegemite. Our wi-fi came with our invitation to join the NBN, which reminded me of my dad’s invitation to join the army back during Vietnam, because it came with the same options: ‘Yes, I will happily join’ and ‘Yes, I would rather have my ears chewed off by rabid weasels but I will still happily join’. Actually dad had a third option, ‘Yes, I will go to jail until I am ready to pick one of the other options’, but the NBN doesn’t let you off that lightly. I know many people claim that they have not noticed a difference since switching to NBN, but to be fair, I have noticed that since joining, there has been a noticeable change – our internet is a lot slower, it occasionally drops out, and even the dog is complaining. I must say that even though I don’t know much about technology, these seem like sub-optimal developments. I imagine one day we will have ‘entertainment’ downloaded directly into our brains – which I hope comes after the implementation of self-driving cars. Direct-to-brain TV and movies will probably mean I will no longer be able to avoid watching Game of Thrones. I know young people may not believe this, but I have so far managed to live my life quite happily without having to know what ‘winter is coming’ means, or why Boromir or whatever his name is cares so much about it. I suppose I can live with that, but if I start seeing episodes of The Voice float in front of me, I’m going looking for some hot sticks. Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2017. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor.