"Insightful, But Crude and Humanist, Critique"
What You Need To Know:
CREATIVE CONTROL’s characters and story become an insightful, if not brilliant, critique of where society may be headed in its obsession with digital technology, virtual reality, entertainment consumption, and self-medicating drugs. The characters’ lives have clearly become empty. Regrettably, however, the movie comes at this critique from a humanist worldview. Thus, CREATIVE CONTROL also contains some anti-capitalist elements and excessive crude, lewd and offensive content and dialogue.
(HH, AcapAcap, B, FR, LLL, V, SSS, NN, AA, DDD, MM) Strong humanist worldview with some anti-capitalist elements in one or more scenes that critiques the emptiness of today’s digital technological hedonism and the shallow lives of millennials, and some slightly comical references to Eastern mysticism as a couple characters are yoga teachers, and another is an avant-garde artist who speaks in laughable pantheistic terms in one scene toward the end; about 94 obscenities (more than half or so are “f” words), three strong profanities and four light exclamatory profanities; man punches another man for trying to steal his girlfriend and wife; some very strong and strong sexual content includes several scenes of depicted sex and self abuse (one is very graphic), implied fornication and cheating, and it’s remarked how a male yoga instructor is popular because he sleeps with his female students; several shots of upper female nudity and upper male nudity, with virtual reality female character created that looks like a naked Barbie doll at times; alcohol use and drunkenness; protagonist self-medicates himself with more and more pills and starts smoking some kind of legal drug inhaler, plus some cigarette smoking; and, envy, jealousy, dysfunctional relationships.
Set in the near future, CREATIVE CONTROL is a satire about a professional advertising executive developing a high-profile marketing campaign for a virtual reality program, which begins to take over his own life. CREATIVE CONTROL is an incisive, even brilliant, movie exposing the technological, drug-infused hedonism of the new generation, but it’s told from a humanist viewpoint with an anti-capitalist tilt and excessive crude, lewd, offensive content.
Writer and Director Benjamin Dickinson plays David, who’s described as “an overworked, tech-addled advertising executive.” Living in a gentrified Brooklyn in New York, David is developing a high-profile marketing campaign, featuring pretentious musician, comedian Reggie Watts, for a new generation of virtual reality glasses. David and his team, including his boss, Scott, call the glasses “Augmented Reality.” They decide they want Reggie to show consumers how they can use the glasses as a creative outlet, not just as a functional device to interface with the Internet and their friends.
However, David is having problems at home. His relationship with Juliette, a yoga teacher, is stuck in some kind of rut. Also, David envies the life of his best friend, a fashion photographer named Wim, including Wim’s entrancing girlfriend, Sophie. Meanwhile, David’s addiction to stress-relieving pills is starting to increase.
When Sophie spurns David’s subtle advances, David uses a prototype of the Augmented Reality glasses to develop a life-like avatar of Sophie. As a result, David grows even more apart from Juliette, who loses her yoga job to a bearded white yoga guru who sleeps with his students. When David’s temper starts to flare, Juliette joins the guru’s yoga classes, and they begin an affair.
Eventually, David’s drug abuse escalates, as does his use of the Sophie avatar. Fantasy and reality begin to blur because of David’s obsession.
Filmmaker Benjamin Dickinson aptly describes his characters as “artists in the business of advertising, fashion, and technology, where desire is manufactured, packaged, and sold for big money.” As such, the movie’s characters and its story and plot become an insightful critique of where society may be headed in its obsession with digital technology, virtual reality, entertainment consumption, and self-medicating drugs. The characters’ lives in CREATIVE CONTROL have clearly become empty and unsatisfying, much like the characters in Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni’s acclaimed 1960s movies, such as L’AVVENTURA and LA DOLCE VITA.
Regrettably, however, the movie seems to come at this critique from a humanist worldview, specifically the existentialist worldview of the French philosophers Sartre and Camus, who also were Marxists (even though Dickinson mentions in the production notes that the father of existentialism was the Christian theologian Kierkegaard, whose philosophical positions were the beginning of turning Christianity into a purely subjective, emotional, personal experience, which ultimately led to some heretical theology). Thus, there’s a scene toward the end of the movie where a chagrined David returns to Juliette and they discuss running away from the capitalist evils and temptations of the city and living in the country on a farm. In addition, CREATIVE CONTROL is full of foul language and contains extreme sexual content, because of its humanist approach. As a result, the chances for a Christian or biblical critique of society’s obsession with digital technology, virtual reality, hedonism, and meaningless, shallow entertainment are lost here. Or, so it seems from MOVIEGUIDE®’s point of view.
1. What should Christians do about modern society’s seeming obsession with digital technology, social media and entertainment for entertainment’s sake?
2. Do you think pornography is a serious problem for the Church? Why or why not?
3. Do you ever feel unsatisfied, yearning for something more? What do you do about that when it happens?