Film society discusses impact of virtual reality on culture


Students and faculty gathered in the Anathan Theatre Friday, Sept. 20 to watch Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” and to discuss the impact of the movie’s themes on today’s society. 

David Schaefer, the chair of the communication arts department, said that the Film Society was created to promote “critical dialogue,” as called for in the Church document “Communio et Progressio.” 

“We don’t just show the movies. We always have a discussion afterwards,” Schaefer said.  

After a nearly full auditorium of students watched “Ready Player One,” a panel of five faculty members and one student took the stage to discuss the important themes and questions the movie raises concerning certain aspects of pop culture and the impact of media on today’s world.  

Schaefer commented on the way that “Ready Player One” exemplified how references to pop culture, especially references from eras such as the 1980s, connect deeply with audiences. “Nostalgia sells,” he said. “This movie, in one way, is really critiquing that, but it also reinforces it.”  

As Professor Beate Engel-Doyle, chair of the department of modern languages and literatures, said, “I could just see layer upon layer upon layer of references. It was so rich.” 

The discussion then morphed into a questioning of the world’s use of technology.  

“People do seem to be able to go back and forth. … They see the difference between reality and that projection,” Schaefer said, following a comparison of the Oasis in the movie to the shadows on the wall described in Plato’s allegory of the cave. He also warned about the danger of buying into the ideological system that the internet can offer.  

“I enjoyed hearing multiple perspectives on the movie from the panel members and from the audience,” said Francesco Pinque, freshman. “It gave me insight into the multiple philosophical themes present in the movie, such as the questions of reality versus fantasy, and a greater appreciation of the technical prowess at display in the movie’s impressive CGI.”

The Film Society will meet again Friday Oct. 18 to watch and discuss Marvel’s “Doctor Strange.”