Connect with us


Shifting Film Genres: A Reflection of Technology and Culture



There was a time when westerns ruled supreme, and big-budget action series weren’t tied to the world of comic books. Today, westerns are rarities in the mainstream, and original IPs and series are increasingly being passed over in favour of remakes and the familiar. These developments have always been a part of the evolution of film, and the effects in the modern age are growing increasingly pronounced.
In the modern era, an increasingly technologically and socially aware culture has placed limits on what filmmakers can do. While this isn’t a negative development inherently, it had led to a situation where film has the choice to try something truly original, or retread old ground. Largely choosing the latter, we have to wonder why this is, and if it might change in the future.

Reflecting Reality

Movies are, in large part, a reflection of the society in which they’re created. For any contemporary film, illustrations of technology are often easy to track, across an obvious and linear scale of progression. Those set in the future were then based on the fear of what the digital age could bring, with artificial intelligence and high-tech weaponry becoming central focuses. Over time, and as we learn the true capacities of what the next few years would bring, predictions in films like Blade Runner and The Terminator became cliché in how fast they thought technology could progress.

Terminator” (CC BY 2.0) by dmoberhaus

Technology’s evolution doesn’t have to be so overt either, as illustrated by changing approaches to film topics like casinos. Back when land-based casinos were the only option, movies that featured, or were based on casinos were prevalent. Today, in the modern digital casino environment, online play has complicated this relationship. New slot sites like Buzz Casino and Electric Spins are constantly arriving in the digital frontier, backed by special features like welcome bonuses and extra spins. These new ways of playing are no less loved than their traditional cousins, even offering enhanced convenience via mobile play, but since they don’t exist physically, they’re not suitable as film settings. Thanks in part to this technological development, casino movies no longer have the pull they once had.

In terms of cultural change, it can be difficult for modern audiences to even begin to identify with what older films were trying to relay. The most famous illustrations of changing culture are most evident in the films America produced during and after the Cold War.

The solution to this problem has overwhelmingly been found in either creating entirely fictitious enemies or by nebulising antagonist origins. This has been a constant part of the MCU, where bad guys don’t rely on the culture of their country as a reason for their opposition. Robots and aliens aren’t exactly people we can draw easy parallels to, so they make perfect targets. Even the few human opponents which do have parallels, like Hydra, are based on real-life villains, which are long in the past and universally reviled enough that we have no problem giving ourselves a pass to beat up on them.

What Comes Next?

As it’s not possible or desirable to turn back the clock of social progress, there are parts of the film industry of today that can never go back to how they used to be. Compartmentalising entire countries no longer works with a more welcoming developed world, and since that’s where most films are created, steps back with films set in the modern age will likely be rare. That said, films set in the fictionalised past might represent greener pastures, at least if the movies set within are respectful.

Technological effects on films can and have been addressed by simply embracing absurdity and leaning into a suspension of disbelief. Tech in films has always been ridiculous, and with any thought, the implementation of films’ more famous devices rarely makes sense. Dodging a few laser beams in heist films is a common trope, for example, where beams that cover an entire wall or move randomly and too rapidly to dodge are easily achievable with the tech available decades ago. Sure, it looks cool when Iron Man does a superhero landing, but a metal suit wouldn’t protect him against the 60 Gs of force that shot through his body, and we ignore it.

Iron Man statue” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Ultimately, from both a technological and cultural sense, finding a way forward is about balancing the line between what we find socially acceptable, and what we can accept physically without being brought out of an experience. It’s a line that’s constantly moving, and one that inevitably opens itself up to corrections of a more informed future. As imperfect of an answer as this is, practically every film with a message or a prediction will end up falling short in some regard, and as long as it’s not hurting anyone, that’s something we need to accept.

Just For You