Volume 22, Issue 2, 2021

COVID-19 Pandemic and Media

Ryan S. Schroeder
Pages 153-159

Disciplinary Modernity and the Mechanical Uncanny in James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984)

This paper explores how operations of the mechanical uncanny in the iconic techno-dystopian film, The Terminator, directed by James Cameron in 1984, facilitate a deepening of apperception among sci-fi viewers regarding the perils of naïve technological progressivism. Some significant aspects of the film which have hitherto gone uncriticised pertain to the relationship between bodily discipline and the mechanical uncanny. In the Terminator, we see the extents to which the disciplinary mechanisms of modernity render our bodies docile, and the ways by which our bodies become organized according the logics of a totalizing mechanistic ethos. Therefore, in The Terminator, the uncanny effect created through uncertainty regarding who is human and who is replicant, may not seem so sophisticated or so subtle, but I insist that the uncanny effect leaves the viewer poised with an uncertain affect pertaining to the contents of their own humanity.