Movie Review: The Mitchells πŸ†š The Machines

by @edent | # #

One of my favourite movie moments is in the 1998 movie Antz - when one of the ants turns to camera and says:

It's the workers who control the means of production!

Even though we're not in the age of the Hollywood Blacklist, it's still rare to see overt - and literal - Marxism on the big screen.

"The Mitchells" might be the most insightful critique of Silicon Valley and the AI hype that I've ever seen. Sure, on the one hand it's a daft kids' movie which flings memes at your face to the point of nausea. And on the other hand it's standard Hollywood fare about daughters and fathers not getting along, and moms being superheroes. But on the third hand...

It shows the limitation of AI, and how they can often be fooled by pattern matching illusions. It has a character turn to camera and warn about the dangers of unregulated tech monopolies slurping up user data. It absolutely skewers the poisonous effects of Influencer culture. It identifies exactly how unfriendly software is to new users and the absolute howling terror of an unfamiliar UI. It rails against the centralisation of smart-technology and the risks of monoculture in a software ecosystem. It satirises FOMO, fragile masculinity, and our always-connected culture.

I don't want to say it is the most subversive kids movie of all time - and you have to agree to let Netflix mine your data in order to watch it - but I honestly think that, as a meme, it will have a lasting impact.

This is a movie which understands (mainstream American) meme culture and weaponises it in service of the plot. It it joyfully animated and delightfully silly. Once you get past the sappy outer layer, it has a heart of steel.

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