Everybody’s mentioning BBC1’s showing of Johnny Mnemonic last night. I didn’t watch it; I was bakin’ banana bread. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have turned it on if you’d paid me. I saw that film in high school and hated it. I only went because I’d been infiltrating the “computer crowd” (I was getting tired of hanging around with the marching band) and I thought that it might give me a little nerd cred. Unfortunately it was so laughably bad, so horribly clichÃ©d that I couldn’t even feign approval. The next day before History class somebody asked me what I thought of it, and I launched into a rant about the perils of thinking of such excrement as high cinema. In the middle of the “Talking super-intelligent dolphins? PLEASE. That was futuristic in, like, 1972…” portion of my speech, I was rudely interrupted by a fuming nerd named Bob Robinson. He told me in no uncertain terms that “Gibson invented all those clichÃ©s, so they’re not really clichés” and that I had no idea what I was talking about. Whatever. That perfectly encapsulates my feelings about sci-fi and why it often fails to catch the public’s imagination. For the hard-core nerds, simply the fact that something geeky exists is reason enough to venerate it, whether it’s actually well-crafted or not. I’m as guilty of this as the next person (as evidenced by the fact that I sat through The Phantom Menace eight times). The reason The Matrix worked is that it was more than just computer-speak and future-babble.
Oh, and if Bob Robinson is reading, I finally read Gibson’s “masterpiece” and I hated it too. Making a text impenetrable with jargon and neologisms is not always a sign of intelligence. And neither is claiming to understand it.