“Surrogates” is a parable.
In the not-too-distant future, they start making humanoid clone-figures
to do very dangerous things, like dismantle bombs, then soldiers to fight in
live combat. These
“surrogates” are operated by a human, strapped into a special chair
equipped with electrical leads to the brain, with audio and optics, so that
the surrogates actually see and do on behalf of the human.
The designer of the complex technology, Dr. Canter (James Cromwell),
himself confined to a wheelchair, originally wanted to make it possible for
other “physically-challenged” people to be able to live a more
“normal” life vicariously. Well,
it doesn’t take long for the technology to develop that makes these
surrogates available to a much larger populace.
You can send your “virtual self” to work, for example, in your
place, particularly if your work happens to be dangerous, like police or FBI,
and your “in the flesh” self can be safely at home, operating your
surrogate. After that, it’s a
small step toward re-fashioning your surrogate in such a way as to make it a
faster, stronger, leaner, younger version of yourself.
Before long, the streets are filled with
the young and the plastic. Everyone
you see is beautiful, youthful, and slim.
The problem is, they’re all surrogates.
The “real” versions are at home, locked up in their dark rooms in
their recliners, expertly operating their surrogates, but getting fatter,
lazier, and more unkempt by the day. Many
are turning into such hermits that they rarely even venture outside any more,
and when they do, they suddenly find that they are subject to agoraphobia,
panic attacks, and that dreaded sense that you’re now a stranger in a world
that has completely passed you by. For
most, it’s just easier to stay inside and hide.
Greer (Bruce Willis) is a big-city
homicide detective who has fallen into the habit, along with everyone else, of
sending his surrogate to work every day, but he’s beginning to sense that
something is terribly wrong. After
they lost their son, his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike) won’t even see him
anymore, except in her surrogate form, claiming that it’s easier for her
this way. His partner Peters (Radha
Mitchell) seems not to be herself, either, and Greer suspects that someone has
figured out how to inhabit someone else’s surrogate, which can lead to all
manner of confusion.
Greer investigates the destruction of a
surrogate that has apparently resulted, for the first time, in the vicarious
death of its operator, as well, and that means that all the ground rules have
changed. And somewhere in the mix
is a random colony of “real” humans, led by their ranting “prophet” (Ving
Rhames), who ban all machines from their sovereign “reservation”
altogether: violent independent
roughnecks as the keepers of normalcy.
Yes, we can see how, incrementally, all
of this could easily happen. As
we become more and more attached to our machines and more enamored with our
technology, in a sense, we give up more and more of our “real” humanity.
Ah, after seeing this movie, being old, fat, and bald never felt so
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace