Possessor

Possessor ★★★★★

Felt my skin prickle, eyelids singe, throat close, brain fuzz. Baby Cronenberg just made a modern internet-era body horror, where the horror itself doesn't just occur in the evisceration of the flesh and pooling of viscera, but in the horror of being disassociated from our own bodies. A film and a world where the ability to be other versions of ourselves, or other people entirely, has made us even less sure of who we actually are; remember to rehearse your lines before seeing your son. It’s also a world where the collection of data is the most powerful weapon, because that data can now paint a complete picture of who somebody is. And in this far off certainly 100% unrealistic world, when you own the data, you pretty much own that person, and can embody them and manipulate them to lead the way to the accumulation of even more power. A film, and a future, where you no longer own your body and aren’t truly sure whether your thoughts and memories are real or just inserted by your employer to make you think you have autonomy as you slip between two worlds, one a reality you no longer control, the other a semi-adjacent, slightly askew second one where you can be somebody else without moving a limb. And when you’re in this world, away from your body but not your mind and free from consequence, is this where the real version of yourself now resides? Unhinged from an existence that’s cocooned you in a code of 1s and 0s you never agreed to and never really understood, it snuck up on you without you even realising, you feel briefly angelic and free from parameters and separate from yourself for once, so you don’t carry out the job in the clean manner your employer asked with a gun, you do it with a sharp blade so you can feel the wounds open and the hot blood soak your hands and the slight tingle of your client’s last breath on the tip of your nose. It’s only a job, anyway. It’s not your body, anyway. Now, back to your son. Rehearse your lines again. This is definitely your life, you're very much in control, you’re human. This is not a manufactured existence that only feels real and lived through repetition. Can't cogently express everything it made me feel. Deeply, deeply haunting. I haven’t found a film that comes closer to articulating our current era of manufactured identities and behavioural modification.

“Eventually, surveillance capitalists discovered that the most-predictive behavioral data come from intervening in the state of play in order to nudge, coax, tune, and herd behavior toward profitable outcomes. Competitive pressures produced this shift, in which automated machine processes not only know our behavior but also shape our behavior at scale. With this reorientation from knowledge to power, it is no longer enough to automate information flows about us; the goal now is to automate us.” (Shoshana Zuboff, 'The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism')

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