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5 Light-Hearted Movies With Dark Moral Implications

#2. Midnight in Paris -- Time-Traveling Romance Alters the Course of History

In the past decade or so, time travel has somehow gone from something that could only happen in sci-fi/fantasy movies to a common trope for chick flicks. Romantic comedies like Kate & Leopold and Happy Accidents show the stressed-out female protagonist becoming involved with a quirky man from another era, while dramas like The Lake House and The Time Traveler's Wife have found an easy new tool to make the audience cry: paradox-related accidental death.


The weirdest part is that they don't even remember saving that bus that one time.

Time travel gives these movies a sense of romantic adventure, and also horrifying unaddressed consequences.

For example, in Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson is an American tourist in Paris who gets drunk one night and wanders into the 1920s, where he meets and hangs out with important historical figures like Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.


It's just like Hemingway said: "If you're drunk enough, there's nothing you can't accomplish."

This isn't a booze-induced hallucination, by the way: During one of his nightly time trips, Wilson hooks up with a girl from the '20s. The next day, back in the present, he buys the same girl's diary in an antiques shop and finds out she wrote about him -- in other words, he's actively changing the past. The implications are vast, but he seems completely oblivious to them.


"How much is this book?" "Ten swasti-euros and 25 Goering-cents."

The guy doesn't exactly keep to himself during those time excursions: He casually interacts with some of the most influential thinkers of the early 20th century, pitching people their own future film ideas, carelessly passing around his unfinished novel and even giving some Valium to Zelda Fitzgerald to calm her down -- thus taking away half the material for her husband's classic novels.


The Mediocre Gatsby had poor reviews.

The unfinished novel alone could have disastrous history-changing consequences, since it was written and set in our present, presumably including details of modern technology. It's a miracle that, when he got back, the whole world didn't look like the middle section of Back to the Future II. Also, at the end of the movie, we see that the private detective following Owen Wilson ends up in the court of Louis XIV -- he would have said anything to the French royals to avoid being thrown in jail, like, say, "You guys might wanna stay away from guillotines."


"Don't make any funny remarks about cakes. Trust me on this one."

#1. Tron -- If Computer Programs Are Alive, Do They Have Rights?

If the "robots are slaves and nobody cares" element of Star Wars is weird, the treatment of computer programs in the two Tron movies is infinitely weirder.

In Tron, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is a game programmer who basically gets sucked into a computer and interacts with physical embodiments of programs (one of whom is called Tron). In computerland, everything is neon lights and spandex, and programs have thoughts and feelings just like people.


Even your mom's browser toolbars are capable of friendship.

Anyway, Flynn eventually defeats the evil programs -- being a real person in the digital world gives him powers (like Neo) -- escapes the computer world and sets everything right ...

Except for all the living programs that are being tortured and killed every day all over the world, that is. He doesn't seem to care a whole lot about that.

At the beginning of the movie, we see Flynn hacking his way into the software company that stole his game ideas by using a program of his own creation -- at the same time, we see the program in the computer world (who looks like Flynn but talks like he has Asperger's) being chased by anti-hacking spaceships, who capture, torture and kill him. He actually screams in pain as he's being deleted ... the implication being that this happens every time you use your computer.


Pictured: What happens when you empty the trash can.

But the characters in Tron only seem to think that this is a problem while they themselves are inside the computer having their adventures. The moment they leave, they completely ignore the fact that every program in every computer in the world is a living being capable of feeling pain. The film also implies that video games are actually some sort of cruel Roman spectacle where programs have to fight to the death: The Identity Disc battles are basically Pong seen from the point of view of the little bar ...

... and the Light Cycle matches are a game like Snake.

The movie completely ignores the ethical ramifications of all this. Sure, the programs are all eager to serve their masters, but that doesn't make their tears any less real. Not to mention that in many cases, the ones sent to the games are there against their will and only trying to survive. They're working their hardest to sweep our mines and be as angry a bird as they can, and we're deleting them to make room for more porn.

The worst part is that Flynn not only created many popular games, but also owns an arcade, making him one of the biggest genocidal killers in history (after Shigeru Miyamoto). The fact that he knew programs were alive and didn't immediately try to tell people after being released makes him at the very least a terrible person. In fact, he did the complete opposite: He became the CEO of a software company and continued creating and selling innocent programs en masse.


No wonder his Second Life avatar hated him.

You can keep up with Brendan Bourque-Sheil's other writings if you follow him on Twitter. Chris Hyde is a U.K. screenwriter and motion graphics artist.

For more things you may have missed, check out The 6 Most Pointlessly Elaborate Movie Murder Plots and 6 Movies That Didn't Realize They Let The Villain Win.

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