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I saw Bruce Willis in Surrogates the Monday after it came out. In terms of pure escapism and raw entertainment, I've never been let down by a Bruce Willis movie. Always worth the price of admission. A few of them caught me by surprise — they were deeply thought-provoking and delivered lasting messages. I'll let you decide which ones those were. The current film, based on the graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, is not one of those. If you're short on time and money, I'll sum it up for you. Live your life. After you've seen it, if you do, you can embroider on that, but there it is.

Although this sounds like a movie review, it's really an attempted commentary on something else, on society, perhaps, the force of programmed expectations and where our minds are. Movies are a form of visual, auditory entertainment in which the real or imagined world is presented to us as a spectacle of light and sound, a moving picture story that for a brief moment takes the place of the world we live in. Graphic novels are a kind of reading without the need to form pictures of our own, or to delve too deeply into thoughts and words. Yes, if you wish, I'm wrong on all that, but not completely wrong.

When we sit down in a darkened room with the smell of popcorn and the murmur of conversation, we activate a body of expectations to be met. We know what movies are. We know what it means to pay and be entertained. But, what do we actually know, what do we really expect? There's a point in Surrogates where all the robotic people stop functioning. In a few seconds, a crowded city, streets running off in all directions, comes to a halt. Hundred, thousands of surrogates tumble to the ground with clunks and clanks, and at precisely that moment the young man behind me, gripped by the excitement of the moment, blurts out, "And then planes start crash-landing and flying into buildings, and cars explode..." As if he was telling the story out loud that was supposed to happen — while it was still happening. The movie triggered a response. We had reached the point where disaster takes place.

Are we ready and waiting? It occurred to me that having people (young people?) so thoroughly programmed — is it movies, is it television, is it computer games? — is itself a potential disaster.
 
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