Cinema and Cyberphobia: Internet Tropes in Film and Television

Main Article Content

Lauren Rosewarne

Keywords

Telecommunications, Framing, Media, Popular Culture

Abstract

Despite the widespread embrace of the Internet and the second nature way we each turn to Google for information, to social media to see our friends, to netporn and Netflix for recreation, film and television tells a very different story. On screen, a character dating online, gaming online or shopping online, invariably serves as a clue that they’re somewhat troubled: they may be a socially excluded nerd at one end of the spectrum, through to being a paedophile or homicidal maniac seeking prey at the other. On screen, the Internet is frequently presented as a clue, a risk factor and a rationale for a character’s deviance or danger. While the Internet has come to play a significant role in screen narratives, an undercurrent of many depictions – in varying degrees of fervour – is that the Web is complicated, elusive and potentially even hazardous. This paper draws from research conducted for my book Cyberbullies, Cyberactivists, Cyberpredators: Film, TV, and Internet Stereotypes (Rosewarne, 2016). While that volume provided an analysis of the denizens of the Internet through the examination of over 500 film and television examples – profiling screen stereotypes such as netgeeks, neckbeards, and netaddicts – this paper focuses on some of the recurring themes in portrayals of the Internet, shedding light on the how, and perhaps most importantly why, the fear of the technology is so common. This paper presents a series of themes used to frame the Internet as negative on screen including dehumanisation, the Internet as a badlands, the Web as possessing inherent vulnerabilities and the cyberbogeyman.
Abstract 469 | PDF Downloads 2

References

Arquilla, J. & Ronfeldt, D. 1997. In Athena’s Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age, Santa Monica, California, RAND.

Attwood, T. 1998. Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Barlow, J.B. 1990. Crime and puzzlement. Whole Earth Review, Fall, pp. 44-47.

Beahm, G. 2011. Unraveling the Mysteries of The Big Bang Theory: An Unabashedly Unauthorized TV Show Companion, Dallas, Texas, Smart Pop.

Blundell, G. 2014. The Code brings the conspiracy thriller into the internet age, The Australian, September 20. Accessed December 30, 2014. Available from www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/the-code-brings-the-conspiracy-thriller-into-the-internet-age/story-fn9n8gph-1227062804619?nk=4bb1ff722fbe0cb3611e3a9e18d5b113.

Bridges, J.C. 2012. The Illusion of Intimacy: Problems in the World of Online Dating, Santa Barbara, California, Praeger.

Burns, S. 2013. Techies with Asperger’s? Yes, we are a little different, The Register, October 8. Accessed November 10, 2014. Available from www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/08/managing_aspergers_techies/.

Burstein, D., de Keijzer, A & Holmberg, J-H. 2011. The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time, New York, St Martin’s Press.

Clifton, W.S. 2012. Feeling Bad about Feeling Good: Is It Morally Wrong to Laugh at Sheldon. In D. Kowalski (Ed.), The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Aristotle, Locke (pp. 51-64), Hoboken, New Jersey, John Wiley and Sons.

Couch, D., Liamputtong, P. & Pitts, M. 2012. What Are the Real and Perceived Risks and Dangers of Online Dating? Perspectives from Online Daters. Health, Risk & Society, 14, 7–8, pp. 697–714.

Hardman, M., Drew, D. & Egan, M.W. 2011. Human Exceptionality: School, Community, and Family, Belmont, California, Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Harrington, H. 2009. Deception: From Ancient Empires to Internet Dating, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press.

Jack, J. 2014. Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks, Urbana, Illinois, University of Illinois Press.

Kiss, J. 2010. The Social Network: How to make a sensational film about coding Facebook, by Aaron Sorkin, The Guardian, February 28. Accessed March 6, 2015. Available from www.theguardian.com/technology/pda/2010/sep/28/facebook-film-social-network-zuckerberg.

Kowalski, R.M., Limber, S. & Agatston, P.W. 2012. Cyberbullying: Bullying in the Digital Age, Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kozak, O.E. 2014. “Wish I Was Here”. DVD Talk, October 28. Accessed May 22, 2015. Available from http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/65484/wish-i-was-here/.

Madden, M. & Lenhart, A. 2006. “Online Dating”. Pew Internet. Accessed January 18, 2015. Available from http://www.pewinternet.org/2006/03/05/online-dating/.

Markham, A.N. 2011. Internet communication as a tool for qualitative research. In D. Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice (pp. 95-124), London, Sage Publications.

Martin, M. & Simms, M. 2012. Labeling Lisbeth: Sti(e)gma and Spoiled Identity. In E. Bronson (Ed.), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy: Everything Is Fire (pp. 7-18), Hoboken, New Jersey, Wiley and Sons.

Mokyr, J. 2002. The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press.

Nugent, B. 2008. American Nerd: The Story of My People, New York, Scribner.

Paumgarten, Nick. 2011. Looking for Someone. The New Yorker, July 4. Accessed July 26, 2015. Available from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/07/04/looking-for-someone.

Rosewarne, L. 2016. Cyberbullies, Cyberactivists, Cyberpredators: Film, TV, and Internet Stereotypes, Santa Barbara, California, Praeger.
Schell, B. 2011. Lisbeth Slaander, Hacker. In S. Rosenberg & S. O’Neill, S (Eds.), The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (pp. 233-252), Dallas, Texas, Smart Pop.

Thompson, Z.B. 2013. Male Fantasy, Sexual Exploitation, and the Femme Fatale. In B, Åström, K. Gregersdotter & Tanya Horeck (Eds.), Rape in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and Beyond: Contemporary Scandinavian and Anglophone Crime Fiction (pp. 136-156), New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Tucker, T. 2014. Interfacing with the Internet in Popular Cinema, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Turkle, S. 1984. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, New York, Simon and Schuster.

Turkle, S. 1995. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, New York, Simon and Schuster.

Whitty, M.T. & Carr, A.N. 2006. Cyberspace Romance: The Psychology of Online Relationships, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Zetter, K. 2015. Mr. Robot is the Best Hacking Show Yet - But It’s Not Perfect, Wired,
July 8. Accessed February 6, 2016. Available from http://www.wired.com/2015/07/mr-robot-fact-check/.