In the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero, the lines between reality and fiction are blurred as an archetypal “magic ticket” allows the characters to pop into (and out of) films themselves (for more on “popping in and out” of things read Godel, Escher and Bach).
An Action Replay is a cheating device for computers and gaming consoles that wedged in-between the game and the machine and let you input codes that could grant invulnerability, the ability to walk through walls (we spoke of this unsacred power, called “no clip”, only in hushed tones) and whatever else you can think of.
In a way, the Action Replay was like the magic ticket from Last Action Hero.
In Last Action Hero there’s a bunch of action-movie rules that allow Arnie to perform death-defying feats without feeling pain (or taking bullet damage). In a horror movie, y’all know better than to say “I’ll be right back!”
In video games there’s heaps of rules, like:
The “real world” (this one) has plenty of rules as well and we’re especially good at thinking up names for them, like “Common Law” and “The Laws of Thermodynamics” and “Thermomix Instruction Manual”.
But here’s the thing: in movies the rules can be adjusted. Sometimes this rule-bending is embedded into the story itself. Other times the characters might have an innate awareness of “the rules” and thus be able to bend them to their advantage. Sometimes, as in Last Action Hero, there’s a magic ticket involved.
In video games you can use an Action Replay or input a bunch of button presses on your controller, or, if you’re feeling especially brave, you can type”no_clip” into the console.
What’s out there, beyond the darkness? Does one see Truth? The Face of God? Or merely more emptiness?
Here, in “real life” the rules are much harder to break. But lordy, how we try.
We build Large Hadron Colliders. We read self-help manuals. We gaze into crystals and and cast nets and cast runes and cast faces in bronze and cast “hot new talent” in “spectacular retellings of old family classics”.
Each thing that we build is a ritual; every word that we speak is a spell.
My intention is for this new ongoing column to be a sort of Action Replay for reality. Or, if you will, the… Last Action Replay.
I’ll “pop into” (as it were) popular (and unpopular) culture–films, books, music, games, realistic papier–mâché animals and more, in order to examine the way in which all of these things reflect upon us, others and, indeed, upon the very nature of the universe that we inhabit.
(Full disclosure: there probably won’t be papier-mâché animals; although, through self-fulfilling prophecy, I may have inadvertently ensured it.)
In an attempt to unpack such an idea I will first attempt to draw a parallel between the underrated classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero and the Action Replay cheat code device. Because the Action Replay was kind of like the magic ticket from Last Action Hero.
Action Replay image from “Centre for Computing History”
Mario Falling GIF from “Mario Jumps But Can He Make It”