ELLEN COUGHLIN JEREMY BARNUM TECHNOLOGY AND PROTEST
Cyberpunk is a common theme in anime and manga, however it is also present in popular live action movies. The Matrix franchise is an example. In The Matrix there is a future world not too distant from ours now that is full of advanced technologies, along with a dysfunctional governmental system. These are cornerstones of Ghost in the Shell and many cyberpunk based story lines. The executive producer of The Matrix talks about how Japanese animation, especially Ghost in the Shell , influenced their production in the following clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3tF7TL0Qh4 The world of Ghost in the Shell is a cyberpunk world where most humans are some form of cyborg, ranging from a computer link to the brain, to improved body parts, to people like the main character Kusanagi Motoko (Called “The Major”, below), whose only true human part left is her brain. Ghost in the Shell looks to show us what might be issues for humans in the future if we modify ourselves with artificial intelligence or other pieces of technology. Cyberpunk was invented in the 1980s and was coined by Bruce Bethke.
The plotline of the movie Ghost in the Shell is on the Puppet Master case, which involves people getting "ghost hacked", where the cyborg parts of their body get hacked and become like puppets. At first Section 9 operates under the assumption that the Puppet Master is a human, and when they think they've acquired the hacker it turns out to be yet another doll. The truth doesn't come out until the Project 2501 (below) comes to Section 9 in a stolen cyborg shell itself and explains that it was created to alter information and memories to better suit the foreign ministry. When the AI achieved sentience and a form of a ghost through its programming and constant intake of information, it fled Section 6. It says that it wants to continue existing, but the only way to assure its continuation and the continuation of sentient AI it needs to have the equivalent of sexual reproduction, needing the Major to have another half to create evolution.
In the universe of Ghost in the Shell, "ghost" is what they call a soul. Due to the massive amount of technology, some people like the Major are reduced to little more than some of their brain and their ghost living in a cybernetic “shell”. In the movie, Project 2501 (also known as "the Puppet Master") is a pure computer that obtains a ghost and sapience, and subsequently tries to escape Section 6. Section 9 is the agency the protagonists work for (Above, The Major and her partner Batou). They are a specialized police force that deals with net-related crimes. Most of them have cybernetic implants or are virtually complete cyborgs. Section 6 is the main antagonist agency, being the foreign ministry, and the people responsible for Project 2501.
The movie asks the question, “H ow can humans protest in a world filled with technology?” The television series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex covers this more in its story on the Laughing Man (Below, hacking real time to hide his face), who uses technology to try to display a conspiracy to the world but fails due to the technologies themselves. A very interesting part of both of these - the Laughing Man and the Puppet Master - is that they use anonymity in their protests. While the infamous anonymous from 4chan's /b/ board had not come into existence, Ghost in the Shell correclty predicted that protest in the world of technology would be at its most effective when those under attack didn't know who was responsible. In this age the people who cause the most change are not big names but the invisible, and as such we might see our world become more secretive like Ghost in the Shell despite the supposed openness of the new era.
The popularity of cyberpunk and the Ghost in the Shell franchise shows the interest that we have in the questions that are raised in the genre. The question that comes up throughout the movie is what makes us human? What makes something a sentient being? Keep these questions in mind as you watch the clips from Ghost in the Shell. In the movie, Section 6 men immediately reject the idea that a computer could be sentient, while the Major (who is almost completely a cyborg) hears Project 2501 out (above, linking)
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS How do we protest in the world of the internet and technology? What measure is a human? What measure is a sentient being? Think of the movie and think of your everyday life. How have you protested in today's world? Was it successful? What is “sentience” in the first place, anyway? Think of how we treat non-humans. How would you treat a non-human sentient being?
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/manga.php?id=1590 http://www.brucebethke.com/articles/re_cp.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3tF7TL0Qh4 http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Anime/GhostInTheShell http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_Shell_(film) Ghost in the Shell. Dir. Mamoru Oshii. Distributed by Manga Entertainment, 1996. DVD. GHOST IN THE SHELL/ 攻殻機動隊 2.0 . Dir. Mamoru Oshii. 株式会社プロダクション・アイジー , 2008. Blu-Ray. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex . Dir. Kenji Kamiyama. Distributed by Bandai Entertainment, 2004. DVD. The Matrix. Dir. Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski. Perf. . Warner Bros. Pictures , 1999. DVD. WORKS CITED