– Written by Vitus Bachhausen –
Browsing through the news can sometimes feel like we are in the middle of an unmanageable chaos. Look at the mess we keep piling up: There’s Trump, there’s Brexit, there’s the refugee crisis, there’s the EU crisis, and there’s Trump. I believe, one question all these crises pose in their essence is: Do we really need borders?
And who is better to answer this question than the Wachowskis (The Matrix, 1999), the ultimate trans-sexual, trans-gender, trans-everything filmmaking duo. Their latest work, Sense8, keeps up their ethical standing. Borders, these arbitrary constructs we’ve traditionally come to be cooped in, are not for the likes of the Wachowskis. The eight protagonists in the TV show are spread around the globe:
The so called ‘Sensates’ are able to transcend this geographical distance by some sort of ‘sense’ that allows them to share their sensual experience of the world with each other. How orgasmic this experience can get, can be enjoyed in the following clip:
There are certainly no borders anymore in this scene. At first, everyone is indulging in different kinds of bodily ecstasy: Lito is stripping, Will is working out, Wolfgang is relaxing, Nomi is having sex. The Wachowskis let us participate in the Sensates’ sensory climax by making use of montage, assembling an orgy that blurs the borders of individual experiential realms. But soon, montage, the stylistic device that splices together all of that, is no longer needed here because the spatiotemporal difference separating the Sensates is being dissolved. So, as we go along, the protagonists appear in the same shots. The protagonists are no longer restricted to their own realm of experience, instead they inhabit each other’s, going beyond any borders they encounter in the real world. No matter what borders separate them from each other in reality, like cultural borders, national borders, sexual borders — the ability to share each other’s experience intermingles all these individuals as the naked human beings that they are. In the end, this scene even seems like a symbolic enactment of Casetti’s vision of the Expansion of the globalised cinema to come (Casetti, 2015):
“The aggregation of new modes of production, new forms of consumption and new languages, and, conversely, the ability to contaminate with its own presence new social environments, new instruments of entertainment and new forms of expression, reflect the presence of a comprehensive network that is increasingly thick and open to relationships and exchanges. In a globalized world, everything can shift from one sphere to another, everything can become accessible, can merge with another context.”
Sense8, therefore, is the peculiar Wachowskian draft of a utopian world. Maybe we wouldn’t need borders if we were finally able to empathize, to see the world from other perspectives than our own egocentric one.
Sure, Sense8 is just a fiction that entertains people. But we must not forget the secret political power of consuming fiction, as Sartre knew (Sartre, 2001):
“Thus, by speaking, I reveal the situation by my very intention of changing it; I reveal it to myself and to others in order to change it. I strike at its very heart, I transfix it, and I display it in full view; at present I dispose of it; with every word I utter, I involve myself a little more in the world, and by the same token I emerge from it a little more, since I go beyond it towards the future.”
While watching the show and thinking about it, unconscoiously, we, the committed spectators, are already engaging in Sense8’s utopian agenda. And that is why I’d strongly recommend watching Sense8 if you want to save the world.
Casetti, F. (2015). The Lumière galaxy: seven key words for the cinema to come. New York: Columbia University Press.
Groovy Movies (2015). Sense8 – 1×06 – Orgy Scene. YouTube. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE9XpfJYyMY [Accessed 15 February 2017].
Sartre, J.-P. (2001). What is Literature? New York: Routledge Classics.
Davis Hanson, V. (2016). Why borders matter — and a borderless world is a fantasy. CNET. Available from https://www.cnet.com/news/will-iphone-break-the-convergence-rule/ [Accessed 15 February 2017].
Latif, N.; Latif, L. (2016). How to fix Hollywood’s race problem. The Guardian. Available from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jan/18/hollywoods-race-problem-film-industry-actors-of-colour [Accessed 15 February 2017].