The Mitchells Vs. The Machines: The Critique About Technology

Image Source: CinemaBlend

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a beautiful movie with various types of art styles, family-themed, and has queer representation with funny characters. And while I want to give more reasons to watch the movie, I’d like to talk about something else- the critique it offers about technology.

Throughout the movie, we see the family theme focus on the father and daughter with Rick and Katie since their relationship isn’t that great. It is known through a series of photos that they don’t get along, and later we understand that technology is the problem since she always has her phone in her hand. 

However, Katie is a filmmaker which we see when they go on their family road trip. She experiences joy in the opportunity in making their story into a memorable film.

But her father has no interest in her passion, which is the main source of their conflict since she listens to her dad’s own interests with nature, making her excited to go to film school to be around people who understand her. So even though it seems like technology ruins relationships, that’s actually not the case. 

But the movie sets up this argument in a nuanced way with it depending on how technology is used instead. Filmmaking means a lot to Katie, but her dad never saw any of her films since he didn’t understand their importance until someone told him her films make them laugh and help cope with their sadness, which is a similar reason why Katie loves movies, “I never fit in, for lots of reasons. But movies were always there for me.” 

Image Source: Tenor

And to help people this way, technology is required, which allows Rick not to get mad at Mark. When Rick is captured during the robot uprising, he sits next to Mark, who he tells sorry about since he was responsible for it. But because of the art, Katie was able to make, he tells him, “If what you built helped my daughter do that, it might not be all bad.”

Though, of course, there are some downsides. When Katie is not filming, when she’s simply on her phone talking to friends in one scene, her dad approaches her wanting to hike, but Katie turns down the offer, leaving him sad. But technology isn’t the problem here. Her priority is friendships, but that isn’t bad either. 

While it’s tempting to blame her or technology, we have to remember that Katie doesn’t feel understood, so she likes talking to her new friends who have the same passion.

This scene also happens after her movie montage, showing she has spent a lot of time with him already. Yet, it’s still saddening to see since he’s trying hard to fix their relationship even though the answer is for him to engage with her passion.

Then there’s the plot of robots taking over the earth, which is ironically funny considering that robot takeovers are an element placed in apocalyptic dystopian stories since it’s a genuine concern people have about technology. It’s especially interesting because the takeover was initiated by an IA named Pal and her relationship issues with her creator Mark. 

Image Source: Cinescopia

He had designed Pal as personal assistance to connect people to their friends and family. This sounds a lot like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Bixby, and more, because it is. But the movie goes on to make fun of tech companies' unnecessary advancements since Mark redesigns Pal as a robot that will cook and clean for you called Pal Max. 

This undoubtedly displays human laziness and scientific misdirection, since there can be other types of advancements that would actually be beneficial. With that said, the scene emphasizes that technology isn’t a problem, it’s what is created and how it’s used.

Image Source: The Guardian

Yet because Pal feels betrayed and angry for being tossed away, she gets rid of humans thinking relationships are worthless since you’ll just get thrown away after being useful.

While these are her personal feelings, she explains how humans do this to each other by saying how 90% of calls from mom are ignored, “Oh, thanks for giving birth to me and raising me my whole life. Ignore.” 

This is even elaborated further when Pal exposes Katie's fakeness towards her father about needing him, since she simply said what he wanted to hear to get her life back so she could get away from her family, “Oh, I… I was just telling him what he wants to hear.

I didn’t mean a word of that. I just wanna get my future back and get away forever.” With that said, technology doesn’t create distance, people do. 

So if you're on good terms, technology brings people together. At the end of the film, when Rick realizes the value of filmmaking to Katie and others, he learns how to use a computer and follows his daughter on YouTube, making Katie feel the most loved.

This then mends their relationship, making Katie stay in contact with her family through video chat, which is something she wouldn’t have done at the beginning of the movie when her dad didn’t understand her.

Image Source: Tenor

In other words, while there seems to be a generational gap between parents and kids these days because of technology, technology isn’t at fault for anything.

The distance between is created when neither person makes an effort to show they love and care about them through their love language.

For Rick, that’s doing things together in the outdoors, and for Katie, that’s watching her films. That required Rick to learn to use a computer, but his effort made Katie feel loved. 

So even though there’s a technological element involved in the love language of the new generation, simply trying to connect through it maintains and sustains a relationship with them since it means a lot to them.

Because in reality, if a relationship isn’t good or if there isn't effort, then whether in person or online, there’s going to be distance, and technology didn’t cause that.

Hi! Hello! My pronouns are she/her, and I'm a storyteller who loves tea and cats.

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