Produced by Disney’s Buenavista Pictures in 1981, Tron was the first feature film to use extensive computer generated (CG) animation. It’s plot is a gnostic allegory of the structure of the universe, and a parable on the perversity of postmodern epistemology in a networked information environment.
An early scene in the video game arcade:
Flynn: The kids are putting 8 million quarters a week into the paranoid machines. I don’t see a dime except for what I can squeeze outta here.
Alan: I still don’t understand why you want to break into the system.
Flynn: Because, man! Somewhere in one of these “memories” is the evidence! If I got in far enough, I could reconstruct it.
Some have argued that Tron is one of the most prescient media works of the 20th century, coming out the same year as Blade Runner, two years before Neuromancer, three years before the first commercially successful proprioceptively controlled desktop operating system (Macintosh), more than a decade before a graphically navigated computer network (the Web).
But is Tron really that important? Or are such arguments merely a playful game? According to Jason Brown in his essay Paranoid Machines:
[L]ike other epistemological play (conspiratology, video games), there is a seriousness to this game. It is the suggestion that history can be better illustrated by playful hallucinations than it can by attempted representations. It is the suggestion that all knowledge production in an electronically networked world is comprised first of all by gaming and play — and the fact that it is play does not at all make the situation any less serious.