Comment on “Man’s New Best Friend”

This post is the comment posted in response to Rich Borean’s post.

Why rats? Good question. The creators could have just as easily used a cuter creature like the hamster, which would have heightened for the reader the emotional impact (i.e. empathy towards the animal and fury at the scientists) that p.25 is meant to evoke. However, rats make a better choice later on because they become the enemy to WE3. Since many people seem to have a natural antipathy toward rats, Morrison and Quitely might have decided that readers would feel less bad when the protagonists have to slaughter them on pp 60-63. Had Bandit chomped through a cute hamster on page 60, he might have come across as more brutal than he is meant to be.

So I think it’s a combination of things. First, as you said, rats are the go-to test subjects. And second, they make good antagonists.

Your question about the game controller is very interesting. I think of it first and foremost as a thinly veiled reference to the Predator drones that the CIA and Air Force use in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere. We are increasingly using robots to fight our wars. They are seen by Washington and the Pentagon as a win-win proposition–our people don’t get in harms way and the American taxpayer saves money (on health care costs, not having to use multibillion dollar jets, etc.). But as with any new technology, there is collateral damage. In the case of drones, bad information leads to errant airstrikes on civilians.
Technology always has unintended consequences; sometimes, one meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it (that line’s from Kung Fu Panda btw).

Aside from the military, the controller might also represent a more general trend in our society in which we increasingly become more distant from each other and from real things. Instead we interact with representations of people and other real things, mostly through a screen. And instead of acting with our whole body, we act through an input device like a keyboard, or a mouse, or a video game controller. So the controller might also symbolize the severed connection between people and (old notions of) reality.