Do you remember your first cyberpunk novel? I started with William Gibson when I found out about the genre, and moved to Philip Dick and onward. Computers fascinate me, probably because I was at the beginning of their explosion into society in the 80s. I can still taste how my first run at programming had turned my fascination to hatred. Debugging code lines trying to find that stupid extra period that killed my 100s of lines of code in the middle of the night, because that’s when lab was available, made me realize that here was another niche that wasn’t mine. It sucked, because I loved computers and especially the Net. There was a world that anyone could belong to and not worry about fitting in. And I wanted to go online and explore.
Sure, I know that I gave up too early on coding and regret that because I realize that coding is still so important in life. That’s why I’m trying again. Because life has a code, just like computers do. But code is only part of the equation. I still love the digital world because its potential is limitless. And that’s what this world needs right now in comparision to what the system offers. The movies of the earlier Net, like Hackers, were cheesy but they confirmed the belief of those who love the digital: the real world was off-balance and unfair, and the virtual world could become the next version based on a more beautiful and more balanced code. We could cut the incessant talk about flimsy shredded bootstraps, because the new world was only a few 1′s and 0′s away.
Moving on a few decades from that aspirational beginning, we’ve matured but not much has changed since then. Code is written and then corrupted by impure intentions…or maybe they were never meant to be pure in the minds of those who built the physical world. The bugs eventually moved into the virtual world, and threaten all of the idealism of the young digital plane because too many are trying to duplicate the physical construct onto the digital one. Just like all those cyberpunk novels warned us about. What do we do?
Enter Mr. Robot, the new show that just started on the USA network. I saw the original trailer and thought that it looked promising. But I, and many others, have been fooled before by the creations of the mainstream. Their skewed visions destroyed promising conversations that so many want to have in the pursuit of temporary pedestals. Would this be another such disappointment?
Here’s a glimpse of its intentions. I don’t know about you, but it’s speaking to me. And so I delved into the first two episodes and all I can say is….WOW! Sam Esmail (read his Reddit AMA) has taken a subject that many digital lovers follow, and created something smart, off-balance, dirty, and impressive. He’s finally given the respect back to everything related to the virtual world. There are no more clumsy attempts to make something cool, just because the status quo only recognizes that label as legitimate. Why should something so out of balance as the digital world have to fit in? Its messages have always been atonal, because it’s made of the chattering voices of all of its participants. Chaos rules in the multitude of shouts, while the code tries to maintain balance: yin and yang in 1′s and 0′s. Like the system tries to remove chaos from a world filled with so many differences.
Is the world bugging you? Do you feel the balance threatening to sweep you into a whirlpool of acceptance? Are you a peg of any normal shape, a cog spinning endlessly trying to maintain the required flow of “progress”? Do you question where this progress is taking us all? Well, if you do, then you just might like Mr. Robot. It’s the acknowledgement that something is not right with the world.
We are taking a walk in the shoes of the main character, Elliot, who stands on the cusp between two worlds, looking for the right path to follow. We have to ask ourselves, like Elliot does, whether we want to make a difference and change this world that so few admire. What would we do if we had the opportunities presented to Elliot? Or do we want to destroy the status quo like Mr. Robot, the alter ego and potential hero/villain (depends on your perspective)?
If you can relate to any of these questions, then this show is for you. Seriously! It’s storytelling with broken reels that create tremors in their delivery – much like life. It’s the perfect display of utter chaos trying to unbalance everything we know and accept as the “truth”. This is what happens when robots dream! It looks like it’s going to be quite a ride and I’m on it with a big smile on my face. So far, so good. Can’t wait to see where we go next! Thanks to Sam Esmail for showing us another path that so few want to tread.