Webcams are part of pretty much everyone’s life. Do any laptops come without webcams anymore? Even if you don’t use it, it’s there. Webcams are popular in movies, too. They’ve been popular in movies for longer than we may realize. David Whitworth pointed out some examples of the use of webcams in movies:
“The Terminator” – $78,019,031 – 1984 — A bullet-proof, super-strong, unstoppable Arnold Schwarzenegger is pretty scary. But The Terminator got a whole lot more scary once the flesh on his face gave way and revealed a cold metal skull and iconic unblinking red cameras instead of eyes. It was in that moment that the audience finally understood just how inhuman the Terminator really was. Those glowing red eyes made the audience understand that this being was not at all capable of empathy or mercy or fear. The eyes were the key to letting us know he was truly just a machine.
“2001: A Space Odyssey” – $56,715,371 – 1968 — This Stanley Kubrick classic boasts the most famous webcam of all time—the all-seeing eye of HAL 9000. HAL is Cyclops. His single unblinking wide eye is mildly unnerving even at the start of 2001, when we know him to be a gentle, benevolent caretaker. As the plot unfurls, and HAL’s mood darkens, the eye loses any of the humanity it started with and becomes an oppressive, ominous symbol, infusing every moment with anticipation and fear.Kubrick’s vision of the video call was an odd hybrid of Skype and 1960s phone booths. It is the perfect illustration of science fiction’s biggest problem: while the technological predictions are often accurate, the context of those innovations in society is almost impossible to predict. Kubrick showed us the webcam as it would have been without an internet.
“Revenge of the Nerds” – $40,900,000 – 1984 – Oh, how we long for the ‘80s, when movies taught us that serious pranks were socially acceptable. In Revenge of the Nerds, our heroes boldly set up a webcam in the sorority house of some girls who had wronged them. Oddly, this was one of the more accurate movie predictions of what webcams would actually be used for in the future.
“Avatar” – $2,782,275,172 – 2009 — In this Dances With Wolves meets Jurassic Park meets Starship Troopers blockbuster, the futuristic military-industrial complex destroys the environment and the native tribes as evilly as possible. Avatar is getting a nod here because this movie features a scene where a giant bulldozer is used to mow down the pristine forest…by remote control. Our hero stalls the destruction by climbing the giant bulldozer and knocking out the cluster of webcams that were letting the operator see what was going on.
“American Pie” – $234,723,148 – 1999 — American Pie was one of the first “gross-out comedies” to hit the scene, breaching several taboos and getting laughs out of situations that most filmmakers wouldn’t dare to touch. In one of the film’s most famous scenes, we see an echo of the Revenge of the Nerds webcam usage 15 years earlier: our protagonists set up a webcam to spy on a disrobing coed.
This was “eye opening” to me (no pun intended)! I never even realized that Wall-E “eyes” were actually two webcams. Learn something new every day, huh? Check out David’s entire list.
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