In the movie Dark City there are villans, called the strangers, which the director uses with pop culture’s fears. We all have our unique fears. We live our lives with fears of loss of identity, fears of the unknown, and fears of loss of control. These fears include a fundamental anxiety that some unknown force is controlling our lives. Every individual has his or her own unique set of fears, commonly identity loss, the unknown, and who is in control of humanity. These different fears are reflected by various villains, mainly the strangers in Dark City. The goal of many movies is to scare people through using common fears of the culture.
The strangers in the movie Dark City are similar to evil characters in other movies, namely Nosferatu and the Borg. Villains such as Nosfeartu, the Borg, and the strangers are all unnaturally pale, outfitted in black, and typically male. People that are very sick or dead are often unnaturally pale, as well as anyone who is often in the dark. In western cultures, the close family and friends of someone that died were expected to wear black for during periods of mourning. Although the tradition is no longer as strictly followed today, black is still worn to funerals and closely associated with death. Partly due to being thought of with death, the dark color black is often a reminder of dark dreary depression. We relate the villans to sicknesses and death.
The loss of an identity is a major fear for most people in our culture. Especially in times like today, people are required to show proof of identity to go about daily life. In the movie the strangers are constantly creating identities and rearranging identities. There is no way to be sure that your identity is going to stay the same, or that you are going to remember what it is correctly. In our culture today a crook can gain control of a person’s credit cards, steal someone’s identity, and gain complete control of an identity claiming to be somebody else. Because our identity is such an intimate part of us, an externally controlled change is a violation that fills us with fear.
Most people have a huge fear of losing control, or of someone already being in control of us. When we see bad things happen such a child killed in a fire and we see otherwise normal people like ourselves commit appalling acts of multiple murder, it is very distresssing. One way to understand these horrors is to accept that (at times) something bad is controlling the world. Science has told us a great deal about the world around us, yet most people agree that there is a larger force controlling us. A lot of people believe in a stronger force, whether it is Allah, God, Buddha, or someone else. The majority of people who believe in a stronger force believe that that force is a “good” positive force. Our culture fears that the strong force controlling us is something “bad.” As always, some people are different, but the general population is afraid of an evil force controlling us. Our schools teach us things about science that we believe because we are told to. For all we know God, Satan, the CIA, capitalism, or a giant chicken could be controlling us. The list of suspected controllers is limited only by our imagination.
In Dark City the strangers are villains. Each night at midnight, the strangers stop all of the clocks and every human immediately falls asleep. The two most vulnerable times in a person’s day are sleeping and showering, the strangers prey on people in their sleep. For example, in one scene in Dark City a poor man in a wife beater and underpants is talking about working the graveyard shift to his wife who is outfitted in curlers and a house dress. The couple is sitting at a modestly set table in a small room with peeling wallpaper and, trash outside of the building.
After the injection the couple is transformed from a slovenly pair to a well dressed husband and wife seated at a grand table. They were sitting with a large table banquet sized with candles, a tablecloth, and more food. The room, fireplace, and stairs all grew. The man in a suit was telling the woman in a classy hairdo that he fired someone who was asking to be taken off the graveyard shift. The strangers were rearranging memories and controlling the humans. The strangers reflect culture’s fear of being controlled by something “evil” and uses that to try to scare people.
I think that as time changes, different masks that have been pulled in front of our eyes are going to be pulled over. We will slowly learn that not all things are as they appear, and our culture has been sadly mistaken. Once people find way to understand the world, such as belief in a God, they usually stop searching for other explanations. This can be a deadly mistake. No matter how confident a person is in their beliefs, abandoning the search for new ideas and new explanations is only asking for trouble.