The Running Man Essay Sample
The Running Man Essay Example
The novel the Running Man appeared in 1982 and was screened in 1987. Both the novel and the movie represent a science fiction genre and describe events of the future. The Running Man indicates that game shows that is moving rapidly in the direction indicated by the movie. There is a potential for creative reading of The Running Man as a satire of American popular culture, though the movie itself always hovers on the edge of becoming an example of some of the worst aspects of the culture.
The important point if that the movie follows direction of the novel and tries to recreate all important events of the book. The movie is set in Los Angeles in the year 2017, after a worldwide economic collapse has led to the transformation of America into a totalitarian police state divided into paramilitary zones. The book describes events of 2025 and the city called Co-Op. Both the movie and book portray that the upper classes of this future society seem to live well, with a variety of high-tech devices providing convenience and pleasure. Most citizens, however, live in abject poverty in rambling urban slums. The government maintains its control of these citizens through a combination of physical force and psychological persuasion, especially via television. While most individuals can no longer afford their own television (or their own home), massive public telescreens allow the legions of homeless to watch from the streets, mesmerized by violent spectacles and manipulated by propagandistic slogans. Foremost among these television spectacles is the top-rated game show “Running Man,” produced in cooperation with the Entertainment Division of the Justice Department. In this show “runners” (usually convicted criminals of various sorts) are hunted and violently killed by professional “stalkers” for the enjoyment, diversion, and subtle edification of the television audience.
Ben Richards is played by Schwarzenegger: he is military policeman who is sent to a prison camp after he refuses to fire on an unarmed crowd demonstrating in the streets of Bakersfield to protest the lack of food. The crowd, meanwhile, is slaughtered anyway, and the killings are then officially blamed on Richards, who becomes known as the “Butcher of Bakersfield” after sensational fake television coverage shows him committing the massacre. Richards and several fellow inmates escape from the camp, but are soon recaptured. The resistance then begins to broadcast anti-government “truth,” including the real footage of Richards’s attempts to prevent the Bakersfield massacre. Richards then leads a commando raid on the government television station, taking control of it for the resistance and killing the sinister Killian in the process. The television audience gradually begins to identify with Richards and with his victories over official authority. In a panic, the show’s producers use computer simulation to transform two actors into doubles of Richards and Mendez. The actors are then killed by ace stalker “Captain Freedom,” and the show is presumably over. The American populace, accustomed to blind acceptance of whatever appears on their television screens, immediately accepts the new truth being broadcast by the resistance, whose victory now seems assured. The movie ends as Richards and Mendez kiss and walk hand-in-hand into the distance. Just before he is killed, Killian gives a final speech on the taste of the American public, arguing that shows like his simply “give them what they want.” (King 320). Indeed, it is clear from the movie that such shows are greatly driven by audience ratings. The book has a different ending describing that Richards flies a plane and crashed it down at the roof of the Network Corporation.
In spite of some differences in plot development, the novel and the movie create a unique image of future and mass culture. On both works, Richards’s spectacular battles with the stalkers and other opponents, and as such the movie comes close to becoming precisely the kind of violent spectacle it presumably condemns.