Original Research

The terminator syndrome: Science fiction, cinema and contemporary culture

J. Sey
Literator | Vol 13, No 3 | a760 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v13i3.760 | © 1992 J. Sey | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 1992 | Published: 06 May 1992

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J. Sey, Vista University, Daveyton, South Africa

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This paper examines the impact of contemporary technology on representations of the human body in American popular culture, focusing on James Cameron’s science fiction films The Terminator (1984) and The Terminator II - Judgment Day (1991) in both of which the key figures are cybernetic organisms (cyborgs) or a robot which can exactly imitate the human form . The paper argues that the ability of modern film technology’ to represent the human form in robotic guise undercuts the distinction between nature and culture which maintains the position of the human being in society. The ability of the robot or cyborg to be ‘polygendered’ in particular, undermines the position of a properly oedipalized human body in society, one which balances the instinctual life against the rule of cultural law. As a result the second Terminator film attempts a recuperation of the category of the human by an oedipalization of the terminator cyborg.


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