The Circle of Life (or is it death?)
I went to go see The Circle over the weekend, and let me tell you: I hated it.
There are many reasons why I feel the way I do about the film, but let me clarify first. It’s the type of hate that makes people hate Climate Change Activists. The type of hate when you don’t want to know something, so it’s easier to hate it and ignore it in order to satisfy your personal conscious.
The movie starts out with the protagonist, Mae Holland, getting a job at the best place in the country. It’s comparable to getting a job at Google. The employees who work there are treated with free food, after work parties, heck, even nap breaks during the day. Mae loves her new job, but it slowly overtakes her entire life. The company is specifically designed to make employees form connections within the community in an effort to keep them in the Circle. There’s even a rating system for how well you’re fairing at being social.
In the words of Joe Cannella, a former senior account manager at Google:
“Basically you end up spending the majority of you life life eating Google food, with Google Coworkers, wearing Google gear, talking in Google acronyms, sending Google emails on Google phones, and you eventually start to lose sight of what it’s like to be independent of big G, and every corner of your life is setup to reinforce the idea that you would be absolutely insane to want to be anywhere else.”
Replace ‘Google’ with the ‘Circle’, and the entire movie is explained. Mae starts low on the ladder but works her way up with great success in a surprisingly short time. The film introduces a revolutionary camera at the beginning. It’s a small marble shaped SeeChange machine that can stick to almost any service, can camouflage extremely well, and produces picturesque quality in audio and image. Without spoiling anything, something bad happens to Mae that ends up promoting the urgent need of the devices. As a result, she begins to wear one on her person full time. Her entire life is live-streamed with people commenting on it or just plain watching. Every conversation she has is taped, everything she sees is recorded, etc.
And the film continues on about her life with the newly added spotlight on her.
Slight spoiler warning below:
As Mae climbs higher in the company, I began to realize she sees nothing wrong with any of the invasiveness, or as they call it, “transparency”. She ends up advocating for more technology like the SeeChange device, and it becomes particularly noticeable how simple privacy begins to undergo demonization. Unlike other dystopian films, the protagonist isn’t fighting against the establishment. In fact, she’s fighting for the establishment. She is the establishment.