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Jamie Allinson, University of Westminster, Paper for Millenium Conference 2012 NOT FOR CITATION
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Cyborg Goddesses: the Mainframe Revisited Leman Giresunlu Dokuz Eylül University American Culture and Literature Department This paper analyses gender articulations along race and class lines in human machine interface in recent movies such as Ghost in the Shell (1995) 1 , Resident Evil (2003), 2 Minority Report (2002) 3 , Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) 4 , I Robot (2004) 5 , and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) 6 . In these movies the human machine interface manipulation happens through the female gender both as a creator and a terminator. This adds a godly attribute to this gender. The choice to employ an omnipotent female image to negotiate the human machine interface is also reminiscent of calling significant technologic inventions or well known vessels in history and literature after names with feminine qualities. The vessels Pequod and Rachel in Moby Dick 7 ; the mainframe computer called the Red Queen; its holographic representation in the shape of a little girl, and Alice in Resident Evil; the mainframe computer with a female voice and look, in I Robot; the botanist woman inventor of the Pre-Crime system with the key female Pre-Cog Agatha in Minority Report are just some of them. In this context Ghost in the Shell (1996) and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) films bring in more to the questioning of self and identity formations of a cyborg woman. Not to forget the definition for the “Matrix” in Latin stands for the “female animal used for breeding, parent plant, from matr-, mater” or “something within or from which something else originates, develops, or takes form.” (Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary). Although the Science–fiction context is a rather clean and cold medium which strives for technology to complement for the inadequacies of the wet environment of the human body, in its binary setting of meaning making it is not devoid of the female component. In the above mentioned Science-fiction movies the female image with the capacity of good and evil combined in one, opens venue for the questioning of faith, science and technology from a feminist perspective and as an alternative to the conventional codification of power. The upsurge of omnipotent female figures in the above mentioned Science-Fiction works is quite a striking condition. Although the realm of technology is expected to breed an elevated state of competitiveness which requires the hunch of an exclusionist and racist bourgeois cultural understanding, this is not the case for the selected female gender imagery employed in the movies to be analyzed in this paper. The usual nature culture binary opposition which originally denigrates nature for the sake of culture is no more in current Science-Fiction movies. In conventional codifications nature is coupled with the female gender and represented as chaotic, irrational, and considered weak; while culture is identified with the masculine gender, imposing some sort of a rational order and regarded to be strong and superior. Therefore since female figures in recent science fiction are represented as powerful and capable of all good and evil simultaneously, this enables to identify them with godly qualities. Although the term “goddess” bears a certain religious connotation, this is not religiosity in the conventional sense: that is these current goddesses do not have shrines of their own, just as their ancient counterparts did. The current goddesses do not invite any potential believers to worship either unless they acquire their own fan groups and admirers. These types transform into “goddesses” actually when they become Popular Culture media icons. A brief research on ancient mythology regarding the significance of the term “goddess” especially around the cult of Kybele 6500-7000 brings along the following 8 . The birth place of the Kybele cult is regarded to be Anatolia. Kybele was recognized as a major goddess throughout diverse locations in Anatolia and the Middle East including among the Trojans, Ephesians, Hittites, Sumerians, Phrygians, in Lydia, in Crete, in Egypt, and around Lake Nemi in Italy. She was also regarded to be a goddess of the Amazons by the Black Sea region. The various names the cult of Kybele acquired ranged from Kubaba (in Kültepe tabletes), Artemis (in Ephesus), Mã (in Tokat Gümenek), Marienna (in Sumerians), Arinna (among the Hittite), Isis (in Egypt), Lat (in Syria), Rhea (in Crete), to Venus (around the region by Lake Nemi in Italy), and with the Greek word “meter” or the Roman word “mater” added to various place names she became the goddess of these particular regions. 9 The role of the female goddess in her times was the regeneration of nature and the maintenance of its fertility. This was achieved to the detriment of the male principle as often times as identified in sacrificial stories in mythology. Therefore the goddess cult was maintained in cycles of death and regeneration enabled through sacrificial ceremonies. The fame and fashion the Kybele cult generated spread until Rome, and is known to be one of the reasons that attracted the Romans to Anatolia. Despite the presence of contemporary competitive and warring civilizations surrounding it the cult survived with due respects of all centers of power to her might. While the origin of the goddess cult provides such historical and archeological knowledge, one also needs to make sure the reasons for the regeneration of the goddess cult in recent times. My guess is that since the
2 term “god” possesses a rather masculine quality there obviously happened to be a need to regenerate its omnipotent female counterpart as a symbol of power from the feminist camp. This gender division and the need for multiplying the sole source of worship which is already regarded to be male obviously is an alternative to the single god mentality. Within the contemporary Capitalist context division brings along diversity and freedom of choice. A selection of alternatives alongside the main providers of belief although may appear to provide diversity, may as well cater similarity, eventually all serving the same purpose: a generous contribution to the shrine of the generic mainframe program of the market economy. While reconsidering the term goddess along the “cyborg” definitions of Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” 10 one understands that a cyborg as a utopic entity is beyond genders, conventional binaries, and is devoid of any story of origin. When contemporary science-fiction movies as indicated in this paper with female types showing resemblance to goddesses in constant negotiation with life and death; as well as their cyborg qualities in regard of their enhanced, altered and shape shifting features are obvious challenges to existent life patterns. In such representations one still recognizes remnants of conventional gender boundaries depicted within conventional humanist sensibilities. The democratization role accomplished by an alternative “goddess” in full mission bearing its cyborg outfit as an “illegitimate militaristic offspring” 11 of recent times, is still revered just as its ancient origin was, while the sacrificial twist in American Literature as well as in current movies is attributed to both genders simultaneously for the regeneration of either ones interchangeably. It can be Beatrice the beauty of the poisonous garden dying a death for ferocious scientists yet killing them emotionally; it can be the vessel Rachel in search of its orphans amidst the rubble of the sinking whaling ship Pequod: both with feminine connotations beyond the withering masculine symbolism of the whale and the greed of captain Ahab in Moby Dick; the gifted pre-cog Agatha’s sufferings, and Dr. Hinemann’s equivocal success in the Minority Report as if to be a reminder of the delicate balance the American Civil War contributed to history where the winner loses all as a principle is still to be argued as part of the dynamics of the culture. Among the rest of the works to be analyzed during this study it is also to note that although Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” indicates a withering of innocence within the cyborg context it is possible to detect the opposite. As a further example of its kind, the movies titled Ghost in the Shell both challenge and are supportive of the issue of innocence in the person of major Kusanagi (Motoko) who is blended in the project 2501, the Puppet Master emerging as neither of them but a new born into the net which is “vast and infinite” 12 . The meaning of innocence therefore is transferred through shifting genders as mere shells to the ever expanding net with a ghostly presence. The shell likeness of genders as feminine and masculine as vessels of technology once were carried through the shell-like aspect of the cult of Kybele, along her multiple facets in Anatolia and the neighboring regions as a major belief system allowing the expansion and prosperity of civilizations. Once sacrificial of the masculine principle the belief has evolved, transformed and blended through time and slanted to the “other” side for searches of the feminine principle as a sacrifice, and later today are interchangeably sacrificing and regenerating one other’s images as new names, vessels and shells of invention, today they are cognizant yet also leaving behind their origins in order to celebrate the vastness of the net expanding to infinity. In the movie titled Resident Evil I (2002), and Resident Evil II: Apocalypse (2003) the female persona called Alice is a strong and agile female warrior who although accidentally instigates evil, and at times falls prey to it, still strives to overcome its negative effects in order to survive as a biologically enhanced and much stronger being. Although her survival maybe a commercial trick in order for other sequels to the movie to follow up the first two movies, it is obvious that Alice no more resembles to the usual frail feminine figures of conventional Hollywood movies. In this respect Alice is not alone. She has a British female counterpart called Lara Croft, who appears in the movies titled Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2002) 13 , and Lara Croft: the Cradle of Life (2003) 14 . Lara Croft is another strong woman warrior type who makes use of diverse extreme sports equipment, and electronic cybernetic devises in order to reach to her targets. However these devices are not implants or bio-chemical substances used to enhance her body as it is in the case of Alice. Thus Lara Croft and Alice are both action-adventure cyborg personas with similarities and differences of their own. Lara Croft for example is more aloof, virginal, and aristocratic in her access to cyber world, and in her use of high-tech gadgets presented at her disposal. Lara Croft’s body is not penetrated by the intrusive hand of science, as it is the case for Alice. Lara is to use these devices as mere tools only. Lara Croft as the bearer and user of technology is also to keep the true values of humanity intact: she is to prevent the world from the contamination of evil: greed, and violence. Although stricken by archeological curiosity herself, she is the preserver and keeper of historical treasures of aesthetic value. Yet it is also the case that a lot of archeological sites are being destroyed during her regeneration of the sites for a higher good. She is a Victorian goddess of virtue in a world juggling for profits to be made by all illegal means, including the production of biological weapons. In this respect the ethics of scientific research is negotiated through a Nobel Prize winning scientist’s
3 illegal involvements in Lara Croft: the Cradle of Life. In the same movie where the mythical Pandora’s Box is rediscovered the dilemma appears to be whether or not to reveal secrets or to keep them intact forever in case they are to harm people. Lara’s role in this context is to prevent history from repeating itself, and resulting in the destruction of humanity. Therefore in her mind she is interfering in the right moment before the box passes into the hands of the greedy scientist. Similarly in the Tomb Raider Lara is to interfere into a cosmic, planetary line up to prevent the world from destruction. Just like in the Cradle of Life, in the Tomb Raider as well Lara is to visit many archeological sites of spiritual and cosmic value in the four corners of the world. This paper recognizes female cyborgs as goddesses and as bearers of technology. Lara Croft is another action-adventure motion picture cyborg whose existence in the accomplishment of dangerous duties depends heavily in the use of cyber technology. The use of digital eyewear employed for communication; multiple surveillance cameras; a supersonic jet, helicopters are just some of them. Simultaneously the safety of past and present technology is also dependent on Lara’s care. Whether it is the integrity of an antique orb as a key to an ancient map to find the Pandora’s Box which can only be deciphered through recent high-tech equipments or as in the Tomb Raider the split triangle, which is to be put together by a single grain of sand, they are all confined into Lara’s protection. In the Lara Croft movies Lara with her interest in archeology and her godly presence and interference into time, reveals her divine presence. She transcends the limits of time to bring together the past and the present for a higher good in order to resolve universal dilemmas. With all these technological media at her disposal, and her physical and intellectual capacity to manipulate them, she interferes into cosmic events as well as prevents scientists from forcing the limits of invention for personal greed. However Lara’s fears are intuitive, not scientific and especially are based on knowledge found in historical legends, myths and her father’s personal letters. In this respect she rather proves a conservative attitude in not willing to take risks especially with concern for the safety of humanity. While her quest in the Cradle of Life episode is legitimized by the royal approval of her majesty the Queen of England, in the Tomb Raider her legitimacy is maintained with reference to her father’s membership to a secret organization. These legitimizations indicate a preference for idealism and a taste antagonist to the intrusiveness of science, and materialism. Lara Croft is quite cautious in risk taking when the safety of humanity is concerned. However she can selflessly indulge into physical challenges to achieve her goals, and quite successfully manages to stay alive. Accordingly Lara Croft movies turn out to be a display of extreme sports of all kinds. From horseback riding, biking, jet piloting, parachuting, air gliding, hiking, martial arts, scuba diving to Safari Lara Croft proves her aptitude in diverse areas of extreme sporting. Despite all this physical activity the virginal composure of Lara in social and cultural matters repeats itself in emotional concerns. She refuses any emotional involvement as if to reiterate the familiar code of honor of the quest epic hero who stays away of temptations of all sorts. Lara’s distrust of men is justified at each stage whenever another one betrays her. They all appear to be more interested in material gains rather than Lara’s higher ideals, and her love for the humanity. Terry Sheridan in both the Tomb Raider and the Cradle of Life is a temptation on Lara’s way to victory. Although Terry Sheridan is quite an able partner, and an attractive lover to fall for, he is a traitor of the highest kind. Eventually Lara Croft discards him cold bloodedly. Thus Lara Croft also proves to be quite a stoic cyber goddess who combines in one beauty, and toughness. Therefore never enslaved, yet a loyal aristocratic subject of the Queen of England, and therefore entitled to employ helpers as part of her family estate, she looks always free and detached. Lara Croft may look free but eventually she is a subject of her queen, who in her turn is yet another symbolic carrier or vessel of the ideological state apparatus with a cultural, technological twist of her own. In the theoretical plane this powerful and gender laden weight of conceptual symbolism and performance politics is ever to be adopted in all contexts from queer terminology to cyber environments and it also marks a moment of decision making in terms of individual freedoms and loyalties. A further example to the transformative infusion of science into the female body in Popular Culture using them as mere vessels of technology and manipulating them towards material gains is definitely the evil persona of Poison Ivy in the movie Batman and Robin (1997) 15 . The female scientist working in the laboratory transforms into an evil charmer once the potions in the laboratory infuse accidentally into her body. Such is the case for the well known American Literature classic Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter”(1846) 16 . In the story Beatrice is a young woman who was brought up by her botanist father within their luscious garden full of poisonous plants. The poison Beatrice regularly inhales from the plants in their garden transforms her breath into pure poison itself which is soon to affect her relationship with her young male suitor and conclude in Beatrice’s subsequent death. Giovanni enraged to see that his love for Beatrice will soon unite him in an alliance of poison tearing them both apart from the rest of the world he revolts and finds the
4 solution in accepting Professor Baglioni’s potion in cure for Beatrice. This cure well wrought in a vial the design of Benvenuto Cellini, also has to say a lot about art and its composure in relation to the human condition. Thus with Baglioni’s antidote Giovanni is to do away with Rappaccini’s poison for good. Rappaccini has brought up her daughter infused with poison so that in his mind she can be evil enough so that nobody will manipulate her ever in life. After Beatrice’s encounter with Giovanni what was once Rappaccini’s victory becomes Beatrice’s misery. Giovanni and Beatrice become mirrors for one another. Not as resistant to temptation, Beatrice selects Giovanni as her future mate. However she keeps a grain of skepticism regarding his temperamental nature. Thus she decides to do away with her father’s protection of her by drinking Baglioni’s antidote. The following final conversations between Beatrice and Rappaccini highlight the situation: “My daughter,” said Rappaccini, “thou art no longer lonely in the world. Pluck one of those precious gems from thy sister shrub and bid thy bridegroom wear it in his bosom. It will not harm him now. My science and the sympathy between thee and him have so wrought within his system that he now stands apart from common men, as thou dost, daughter of my pride and triumph, from ordinary women. Pass on, then, through the world, most dear to one another, and dreadful to all besides!” 138 “My father,” said Beatrice, feebly,—and still as she spoke she kept her hand upon her heart,— “wherefore didst thou inflict this miserable doom upon thy child?” 139 “Miserable!” exclaimed Rappaccini. “What mean you, foolish girl? Dost thou deem it misery to be endowed with marvellous gifts against which no power nor strength could avail an enemy—misery, to be able to quell the mightiest with a breath—misery, to be as terrible as thou art beautiful? Wouldst thou, then, have preferred the condition of a weak woman, exposed to all evil and capable of none?” 140 “I would fain have been loved, not feared,” murmured Beatrice, sinking down upon the ground. “But now it matters not. I am going, father, where the evil which thou hast striven to mingle with my being will pass away like a dream—like the fragrance of these poisonous flowers, which will no longer taint my breath among the flowers of Eden. Farewell, Giovanni! Thy words of hatred are like lead within my heart; but they, too, will fall away as I ascend. Oh, was there not, from the first, more poison in thy nature than in mine?” 141 To Beatrice,—so radically had her earthly part been wrought upon by Rappaccini’s skill,—as poison had been life, so the powerful antidote was death; and thus the poor victim of man’s ingenuity and of thwarted nature, and of the fatality that attends all such efforts of perverted wisdom, perished there, at the feet of her father and Giovanni. Just at that moment Professor Pietro Baglioni looked forth from the window, and called loudly, in a tone of triumph mixed with horror, to the thunder stricken man of science,— 142 “Rappaccini! Rappaccini! and is this the upshot of your experiment!” 143 17 As she indicates Beatrice’s preference was for being loved and not feared. The antidote Beatrice accepts from Giovanni, to be able to get rid of the poisonous atmosphere his father has created for her, is produced by another scientist: Professor Pietro Baglioni. However the antidote instead of curing kills her. This physical death on a metaphoric level is also suggestive of the meaning of values such as: power, beauty, appearance, reality, truth, ethics, science, protection, submission, resistance, loyalty and free will. Hawthorne’s subtlety and ambiguity opens up to ponder on the limits of science and technology, and the role of women in this context as free willed users as well as mere objects of it. In contrast to Beatrice whose, choice for “being loved but not feared” leading her directly to her death, current cyborg women appear to be more stoic and, omnipotent. Since they are capable of good and evil, beauty and gore simultaneously and more or less consciously they earn a godly attribute and they manage to survive physically and even become more or less victorious over evil, yet at the same time they do not resist much to become evil. Or at least they appear so. Current cyborg women have become the very being that Rappaccini wanted her daughter to become, which Beatrice had chosen to reject once in Hawthorne’s story. Thus current cyborg women become active shapers of the system itself. They have all become Beatrice with the poisonous breath themselves. Once resistant to the system and willing to trade it with an alternative, they seem to realize that “resistance is futile” and that there is no way out other than playing by the rules of the system. With the powerful poison taking over their system they have become the system. It is also possible to say that they have appropriated the system. Thus they seem to delay their physical death. This shows that from Hawthorne onwards women’s representation have evolved, although they still keep their ambiguities in the ideological plane in regard of individual freedom, and their compliance with the preprogrammed decision making of the mainframe.
Hawthorne’s story also makes a note on the dilemma of choosing one’s loyalties, as well as inviting one to skepticism towards this issue. What is presented as the cure by men may turn out to be the poison and vice versa. In these current movies as noted in this paper the female types occupy major roles as carriers of good and evil, beauty and gore all at once. They are not total losers as they were represented once, but they become themselves staunch manipulators. On the one hand they have a godly attribute, we call them goddesses, since they appear to be an alternative to the male order, but at the same time they appear just like the male order and doing away with it whenever occasion appears. Not necessarily cyborgs themselves, as their bodies are not intertwined with machines or other organisms, but due to the display of extreme physical strength and endurance the hookers of the recent movie Sin City 18 (2005) fighting against the tyrants terrorizing them behave rather manly and almost as super heroes. Hookers both known opponents of the puritan morality and preservers of it because of their active presence, they become an ally of male and female viewers who are for their survival as a system within a system which is willing to do away with them, or who exploits their life style. Not goddesses or “cyborgs” they are necessarily, but since the movie is a most recent animation based on comics and produced in cyber media and which takes as subject matter women as heroines fighting in a similar decisive manner just as their cyborg sisters they deserve notice. With this aside in mind, Dr. Hinemann in the Minority Report is just a female counterpart of Hawthorne’s botanist Dr. Rappaccini. Times are long past since intrusive and manipulative scientists were males as with Dr. Chillingworth or Dr. Rappacinni were the sole inquisitors of the scientific world in American Literature. With one difference: while the European versions of the female cyber goddesses in current movies appear to be more aloof, virginal and aristocratic in style and their relationship with the hightech elite, their American counterparts are more down to earth, highly sexualized, and involved with the middle class public and still self reliant rebels against the originators of oppression. Same as the seductive Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin, Lara Croft, in opposition to her equally attractive bio-genetically enhanced counterpart Alice, she prioritizes her top secret duty, and stays away from emotional attachments. Lara Croft is a dedicated agent for whom even a male lover’s life can be discarded when it comes to fighting for a cause. As far as duty goes Lara Croft is similar to Alice in the Resident Evil movies. However Alice is clumsy. Quite incautiously she allows her secret negotiation with one of the Umbrella Corporations’ Laboratory employees to bring the corporation down, to be secretly taped from distance by her husband Spence. Alice’s husband in turn manipulates this secret information for his individual profit. Spence is not as idealistic and altruistic as Alice is for saving humanity from the hands of an equally manipulative corporate giant. In this respect Alice is trapped between her husband and the corporation. Spence does not believe in change. He is more into exploiting the giant Corporation to the detriment of others’ well being. He says: You…really believe that … people like him (indicating Matt, the other idealist who passed for a cop in order to enter the laboratories of the Umbrella Corporation and who is willing to put the Umbrella Corporation down) will ever change anything? No…nothing…ever…changes. [Resident Evil (2002): Title 01. 1:11:37] 19 The Resident Evil movies while presenting the ferocious adventure of a group of idealist rescuers it is also critical of idealism’s power and the struggle for change. Alice in the Resident Evil movies is an epitome of idealism. Yet at the same time her incautiousness results in the struggle for change to look clumsy and inadequate. This becomes apparent when compared to the evil yet impeccable precision of the corporate system. In this respect the film is critical but at the same time cautious of its position while revisiting the mainframe by means of the beautiful and powerful cyborg goddess, Alice. Thus idealism gains a clumsy yet beautiful, evolving and powerful female gender attribute. On the other hand materialism and the egoistic attempt is both to win and to lose while stabilizing a male gender attribute for itself in the Resident Evil movies. For example the manipulative male image via Spence loses in the deadly bites of the zombie woman scientist, and the lab creature; the male image also loses in not willing to listen to the female voice of Alice about what she has to say on the latest horrific happenings in the Hive, but in insisting to open the infected laboratory; the male image also loses in the devastation of the entire Raccoon city inhabitants twice: by viral infestation of the Hive underground, as well as with a nuclear blast above ground. Nevertheless despite its high price the materialist and manipulative mentality wins in the accelerated evolution of the human species in the Hive: foremost the male scientist develops the T-virus in order to strengthen the weak body of his daughter Angela; then comes the creation of the super strong mutant humanoid creature in the Hive; later the regeneration of Matt as Project Nemesis follows; eventually Alice marks the latest stage of evolution through the bio-chemical enhancement she undergoes as the second movie Resident Evil:
6 Apocalypse concludes. Compared to the earlier big clawed mutant humanoid creature in the Hive, as well as Matt as the Nemesis Project, the bio-genetic manipulation of Alice does not deteriorate her eugenics. The ultimate point reached in the experimentation for the superior human being in Resident Evil movies thus appears to be Alice. Therefore the post-human creature achieved to the detriment of the inhabitants of an entire city happens to be of feminine allure in the Resident Evil movies. From the creation of the T-virus for the bodily enhancement of a weak little girl, to the different levels in which the new virus manifests its power 20 , the vessel or the carrier of this latest bio-genetic creation is a female figure. From Angela, the little girl for whom the T-virus was invented to regenerate her weak body, to Angela’s holographic representation speaking with a British accent for the mainframe computer called the “Red Queen” 21 , who is safekeeping and controlling the Hive; to Rain, the dedicated and selfless woman rescue officer; to Alice, the accidental instigator of evil in Raccoon City and Angela’s rescuer, we come across with different shades of the female image as part of a technological invention. This image combines in one various qualifications: such as good, evil, innocence, clumsiness, beauty, ugliness, dedication, destruction, love, sex, altruism, determinism, will, kindness, strength, and endurance. These qualifications of the female vessel are introduced in a racial, class, and generational context. In the movie as blond and dark skinned women, Alice and Rain symbolizes the race difference, the Queen obviously stands for the class issue, while the little girl obviously introduces a generational perspective within the female context as part of the carrier of new technology. In the Resident Evil movies where the female image is employed in order to stand for the technological, viral evolution and genetic experiments is also contextualized along a subtle theme of Nazism, the Holocaust, and popular rumors in the media that human experiments were also the case during that historical moment. In this respect the Resident Evil movies call forth for the reconsideration of the meaning of life, death and being one more time. Specific clues leading to these ends in the Resident Evil (2002) movie are the dramatic clothing of Alice in her high black leather boots and red dress half covering her body, and the black leather jacket of her fake husband Spence she starts wearing later; the infection of the Hive workers by the virus spreading through the air conditioning system, and later the computerized system further gassing them to temporary sleep; as well as gassing Alice while taking a shower in the mansion she was living; the underground train connecting the Hive to the upper ground level; and the terror scenes generated by the attacks of the mutant humanoid biological weapon creature haunting for flesh. This train scene is reminiscent of the media images of the trains which carried the Nazi victims to concentration camps during World War II. Thus the Hive, and the quiet suburban neighborhood with both ends connected by the train, happens to be symbolic for double concentration camps for the employees of America both in work and in leisure. The opening remarks of the movie already indicate that these people are trapped in between. 9 out of 10 homes contain [Umbrella Corporation’s] products. It’s political and financial influence is felt everywhere. In public it’s the world’s leading supplier of: computer technology, medical products, [and] health care. Unknown even to its employees, it’s massive profits are generated by military technology, genetic experimentation [and] viral weaponry. 22 In this context a reductive reading would also lead to recognize the undergoing experimentation producing deadly mutant creatures including Project Nemesis to symbolically stand for the Nazi terrors in a European historical context. Therefore the movie creates a cross cultural critical approach against all kinds of oppression evil and terror in the past and present, at home and abroad. Similarly the pre and post contamination zombie-like Hive employees may be considered to stand for a criticism of the mindless, soulless and memory defective ignorant masses striving only to appease their primal drives for food. These masses since have no memory, cannot recall the mentality and dynamics of the Nazi terror in the past, and in a different geographical context, neither can they recognize similar manipulative mindsets endemic of giant corporations for which they are willingly slaving themselves. In this respect the movie also works as a critique of potential oppression and abuse giant and impersonalized corporations may generate, where even marriages are made in their own recognition and for their material ends as in the case of Umbrella Corporation. Speaking of marriages, it is worth the mention that the choice of the name “Raccoon” for a city in this movie is a reference to the animal Raccoon which generally lives in pairs. That is they come in twos. Therefore the name of the city as “Raccoon” enforces furthermore the binary mindset. Basically the use of the binary formula implies the possibility that in addition to the actual incident occurring in Raccoon city another similar incident maybe currently happening somewhere else in the present, might have happened already in the past, or may as well happen in the future. Thus the doubling format through the selected name of the animal “Raccoon” for the city in Resident Evil movies enables a sense of continuity, and sameness in place and in time. On another note the name “Raccoon” chosen for a city is also symbolic for the pastoral element.
The pastoral element complements for the highly emphasized technological dimension in the movie. In the American mythical context the technological component is once symbolized with the train, as in The Machine in the Garden 23 (1964) by Leo Marx, or with the Bridge as in the Brooklyn Bridge: Myth and Symbol for a Nation () by Alan Trachtenberg. Now it seems the “gene in the tube” can be recognized as the current technologic stage of evolution from where to start speaking of symbolism and myth making. In the American cultural context the technological and natural historically in competition with one another, this time in Raccoon city ends up being devastated by a nuclear blast intentionally implemented as a precaution in order to wipe out the further spread of the deadly mutating T-virus. The name of the animal Raccoon in Resident Evil movies within a binary context is a reminder of possible multiple disasters, therefore implies sameness. It also implies difference, contrast, and competition in regard of nature and technology the two essential endemic cultural values of historical significance for American culture. In this fierce competition and after the disaster, the biogenetic evolution reaches its target in Alice as a vehicle of newness.
homicidal bitch maybe our only way out of here.” One of the male officers: “The way she is treated, I’m sure she’s gonna be real happy to help us out!” [Resident Evil (2002) Title: 01 Ch: 12 ] Rain: “Give me that fucking switch, I am gonna fry her ass” [Resident Evil (2002) Title: 01 Ch. 12 0:55:55] Regardless the child hologram and voice the Red Queen is speaking through, the female officers treat her in the most sexist and aggressive possible language generally used in different contexts by macho male types. The switching of gender language styles in this movie is quite significant in this respect. On another note it is also significant to hear the holographic girl’s voice speak of herself as the following: “I have been a bad bad girl” [Resident Evil (2002) Title: 01. Ch: 16 01:13:38] indicating that she has sent the mutant creature, that is the biological weapon in order to have Spence killed. This further indicates that Red Queen reacts in every possible way in order to keep infection from further spreading outside the Hive. However most unlike like the Queen bee of a bee hive whose sole job is to lay egg, the Red Queen of the Hive laboratory is programmed to destroy human life if it is for the benefit of the research lab. That is, the passive natural creature Queen bee’s name is used, however its image is transformed in the movie to its opposite, and transposed onto an artificial technological creation:, the mainframe computer, which is aggressive and can destroy human lives. This image is further carried onto the language style of the female types as well as their actions as those who kill in order to survive. Rain however selflessly accepts death as the order of the Red Queen to enable the uninfected ones leave the Hive. Yet Alice instead of killing Rain, she disobeys the computer, and smashes the screen through which the Red Queen speaks to them. The very moment the system shuts down. It is understood that it was a male rescue officer, Kaplan who had finally managed to disable the computer. [Resident Evil (2002) Title: 01 Ch: 17 01:17:36] However Rain’s end, although delayed, would soon arrive with the bullet of Alice, since Rain would inevitably become a zombie. 22 Resident Evil (2002). This information is presented to the audience in the opening scene. Information within the brackets is mine. 23 Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (New York: Oxford University Pres, 1964)