A new version of life is available. Do you want to update now?—Josh Trank’s Chronicle (2012)

This review originally appeared in its entirety on the website Screen Machine.

Contemporary consumerism is marked by planned obsolescence. Our devices, our phones, our computers, our social medias, go through an endless and artificial progression of updates. Software becomes outdated. Hardware becomes outmoded. Upgrades are required in order to stay current. The logic of the upgrade is deeply embedded in our capitalism. It’s the reason why your iPhone probably won’t last more than three years, and thus is the reason why the gross revenue of Apple as of January this year is more than the GDP of 105 countries, including Slovenia.

But this logic is fundamentally exclusionary. Upgrades are for those with the means to procure them. And so the realm of consumerism is demarcated by class. Upgrades are a decadent conflation of utility and luxury, and they exist first and foremost for those with the means to make aesthetic choices about how their lives are lived, meaning the wealthy. The relationship of the classes to their technology is a division between functionality and aestheticisation; the un-upgraded tech of the poor is merely functional, a means to life itself, while the upgraded tech of the bourgeois is a means to aesthetic pleasure.

In Josh Trank’s Chronicle this consumerist logic is articulated through the current blockbuster trope du jour, the superhero origin story. Three high school students discover a mysterious glowing crystalline object, and subsequently develop telekinetic abilities – the ability to move objects with their minds and, eventually, cause themselves to lift off into flight. Sophomoric fun ensues. But one of the trio, Andrew – the poor one – is mentally destabilised by his new powers. Violence erupts, and he must be put down.

…continued at Screen Machine.

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