Should We Fear Skynet?


One of the most iconic science fiction films to this day is the film Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It was released on July 3, 1991 and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800 Terminator. He is sent back in time to protect John Connor from the T-100 Terminator. The T-1000 is the new and improved version of the T-800 Terminator, and it is made of liquid metal instead of solid metal, giving it the ability to shapeshift and move through a variety of terrains. These terminators are controlled by Skynet which is a highly advanced, neural net based artificial intelligence. This movie really emphasizes the concept of technological improvement. This new version of the machine is so advanced and essentially undefeatable. The whole plot of the movie is basically to save John Connor, who will be the leader of the worldwide human resistance in the future war against machines. They are trying to prevent Judgement day from ever occurring. Judgement Day is the day that artificial intelligence Skynet becomes self-aware and starts a nuclear attack on humans and kills 3 billion people.

So what was this movie implying about the present future reality?

The film Terminator 2: Judgement Day portrays the future as a chaotic warzone, where humanity will eventually be wiped out and machines will take over.The machines, terminators, will be so technologically advanced that their programs will exceed even the smartest of human brains. There will be no need for humans anymore, the world will be taken over by these extremely technologically advanced machines. Humans will not stand a chance against computers and their programs that create these machines. They will be smarter than us and there will be no more need for the humans and their brains.

This movie not only examines the power and ability of these machines physically,but it also addresses the possibilities of their mental capacities. There is a scene in the movie where Sarah Connor observes the Terminator wit her son and she says that he was a “good father” to him. Throughout the movie the Terminator became more humane and he began to possess some human like feelings and emotions. This concept was unheard of in this time period. In the early 1990’s,

This movie was aired in movie theaters and the poster was displayed for people to see around town and movie trailers were aired on television in the 90s.The image file that I was able to find is a JPG that I just Google Image searched.  I was not able to find the original photographer, but the poster was designed by The Cimarron Group. I found an HD, digital version of what I presume to be a replica of the original movie poster. It is a photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800 Terminator, and it shows his human face, but underneath his sunglasses you can see the red eye of the Terminator. He is on a motorcycle holding a large gun, which is a very important part of the movie.  

This artifact is implying that in the future, machines controlled by artificial intelligence will take over. The technology used to create these complex, robotic machines will be so advanced that they will outsmart the basic human brain and they will be able to learn human emotions and feelings.

I analyzed this media artifact through a lense of time. I looked at it from the early 90s time period. In 1991, when the film first came out, the Cold War had just ended. According to the Micro Essay Macro hack on the History 110 Blog, Ryan Faupel mentions that it was a massive arms race. The Vietnam War and the Korean War both stemmed from the Cold War. These wars were messy, caused thousands of deaths and had unpredictable and uncertain results. In summary, these wars were the terrifying reality of destruction and terror that the people of the world during this time period had to love in. This is the fear that drove them to create the world that exists today.

Another historical aspect that is very relevant in the film is the fear of an nuclear attack. According to Tatum Guerrero’s Hist 110 blog, the Cold War involved a race for arms with the atomic bomb. When the Soviet Union announced that they had an atomic bomb, the U.S. government implemented plans for citizens’ survival, including fallout shelters and the duck and cover” drill. In the film, Sarah Connor has constant nightmares about Judgement Day, this nuclear attack where everyone is hit and burns to death and the world is destroyed. I think the writers of this film included this idea because of the recent wars and because the fear of a nuclear attack was so prominent during this time.

In the chapter from Simulacra and Simulation, the author states “science fiction in this sense is no longer anywhere, and it is everywhere, in the circulation of models, here and now, in the very principle of the surrounding simulation”. The author addresses here the idea that science fiction is not that far off from our future reality. In the movie, artificial intelligence was just a fictional idea of what the future may or may not entail, and not in the 21st century, technology has taken off in ways that the people in the early 1990’s had only dreamed of. So what really is science fiction if anything is possible?

At this time in 1991, the idea of Skynet and artificial intelligence was unheard of. Computers were just coming into existence and the internet was yet to be created. The idea of an army controlled by computers was foreign. In the movie, Judgement Day was supposed to occur in 1997, which was just 2 years from when the movie was set in 1995. So the writers of this film in 1991 were shooting for the stars, but were they really that far off?


Works Cited

Baudrillard, Jean, and Sheila Faria. Glaser. Simulacra and Simulation. N.p.: U of Michigan, 2010. Print.

Linneazeiner, Ryanfaupel, Spencerchancemartin, Thipsx4, Jessicaschulz96, Elijahgrote, Adamlangeee, Frankijolliff, and Sdevdhara. “HACK It!” HACK It! WordPress, n.d. Web.

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day Movie Poster (#1 of 3).” IMP Awards – All the Latest Movie Posters. N.p., 22 Sept. 2006. Web.


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