This week, Boing Boing is presenting a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series here. -- Mark
Mind Blowing Movies: Invaders from Mars (1953), by Douglas Rushkoff
[Video Link] The first film that blew my mind was Invaders from Mars -- the 1953 version. I was 6 when I saw it, in a motel in Phoenix (my first motel stay) with my family on the way to the Grand Canyon. There was a metal box on the nightstand, and if you put a quarter in, the bed would vibrate for ten minutes.
And on that vibrating bed, with my brother and father, I watched this movie about a kid whose dad changes into this other guy who looks the same but is actually a bad man. And no one believes the kid. And I totally knew what the kid felt like. And he does everything right -- even going to police when the stakes get high enough, but by then the chief of police has been turned into one of these alien people, too.
It ended with the kid seeing the head alien octopus creature in a glass bubble, but even though that was supposed to be scary I saw it as vindication. There really was an alien invasion, and it was captured on film. (My sense of reality watching TV hadn't been fully formed, yet.)
And from then on, whenever my dad was mean I'd check the back of his neck to see if he had been changed.
Winner of the Media Ecology Association's first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, Douglas Rushkoff is an author, teacher, and documentarian who focuses on the ways people, cultures, and institutions create, share, and influence each other's values. He is technology and media commentator for CNN, and has taught and lectured around the world about media, technology, culture and economics. His new book, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, a followup to his Frontline documentary, Digital Nation. His last book, an analysis of the corporate spectacle called Life Inc., was also made into a short, award-winning film.
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