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B-Movies and Real Life Applications of SR and OOO

by on March 13, 2013

I seem to remember someone mentioning this movie to me recently, though I am not sure if it was in relation to this class, but has anyone seen the movie “Rubber”? At first glance it is an absurd premise groomed for B-movie stardom: a tire (named Robert, though the tire never identifies itself as such) gains agency and cognition (for no real reason at all), and learns that it can telepathically destroy objects. As a bizarre side plot, there is a group of spectators who watch the tire’s journey from a distance, speculating on the tire’s every act, as though they are watching a movie, though they are viewing the events of the film using binoculars. They watch this tire roam through a small desert town, killing residents by telepathically making their head explode. Sounds fantastic, right?

While the shear absurdity of the film is undeniable, the plot is drenched with what seems to be direct references to OOO and SR.
In the introduction, a focal character named Lieutenant Chad has a strange monologue in which he philosophizes the absence of reason in both cinema and the universe in general, stating that the film is dedicated to the ambiguity of reason. The film then follows the slow anthropomorphization of the tire’s agency and cognitive faculties, during this time the observes (always referred to as “spectators” in the film) speculate on the meaning of the tire’s actions, usually equating them to human concepts, minus a few instances in which human reason could not be extracted. The group that organizes the spectators seems to be a bit clandestine and malevolent, and eventually poisons them, at which point the aforementioned Lieutenant Chad enters the town, and informs the people that all of the spectators are dead, no one is watching, and therefore none of it was real and everyone can go home; but, one spectator has refused the poisoned turkey used to kill off the rest, continues to survive, and as such, there is a subject watching the object and the plot must keep on (the connections here with philosophy seem obvious enough).

This tire then goes on to kill anyone who has wronged it (throwing it to the side, dismissing it as a random object, etc.), until eventually coming across a large tire fire in the desert. After viewing a human throwing tire after tire onto the flames, the tire then goes on a rampage killing spree in which no one is spared (no pun intended…ok, that was a lie: spare tires, get it?).

I will stop with the plot summary now so as not to spoil the film, but the implications for the class are numerous and blatant (I can honestly say this does not seem to be an eisegesis viewing). We are given an object, thought to be inanimate, which turns out to have a concept of its reality and is somehow granted agency to make that apparent for the spectators (subjects) and begins to actively mitigate its interactions with reality, thus revealing a real object, and while the real object (it’s reasons for being, motivations, and the nature of its perceptions) are all withdrawn, the subjects are left to observe and speculate as to the nature of Robert’s actions by equating them with human concepts. As further proof of the film’s philosophical allusions, a boy whose father was killed by Robert (the boy did not seem particularly troubled by this) attempts to talk to Robert, asking it why it is killing people, what does it want, can it talk, etc. Robert does not answer, and merely rolls away, but spares the boy for no apparent reason. This scene seems to demonstrate the most problematic aspects of OOO and SR as the human characters cannot gain any access to the real object, only the real qualities, and are thus left to speculate about the nature of this real object.

While this may come across as an over reading of a ridiculous movie, the presentation of the film constantly encourages a “meta” approach by the viewer, sometimes by characters making direct appeals to the audience (both the actual audience and the fictional group of spectators), and I have no doubt that these concepts were very deliberately constructed with this purpose in mind.
There are many more scenes in which connections with OOO and SR are abundantly clear, but I really do hope that someone else checks this out, so I won’t go into all of it. For those of you that are so inclined and have Netflix instant streaming, the film is available there, absolutely hysterical, and compliments the course’s texts to an extraordinary degree.

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From → Quadruple Object

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