The Omega Meme in Tron

December 30, 2010 |  by

Forget what the critics say. Or even if you hated it. Tron is flush with memes and meaning. Here we’re dealing with some major, major memes. Their influence is far-reaching and global. Three stand out:

  • the omega meme: the pull of the omega meme is toward the future. We see it in science, tech, design and spirituality – the pull to advance everything, to make it better, smarter or more sacred. It’s the urge to always improve, to go beyond. Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, is the end point. The omega meme is a core influence on our culture – and in Tron. It’s a-moral, beyond good or bad. It’s absolute progress, absolute ahead.
  • the mech meme: this is the impulse of computerization – the machine – taken to the nth. It’s the Matrix, HAL, Skynet in the Terminator. Tron is about programs whose mission is to “perfect” the world, to cleanse it of all humanity, emotion and love. Wherever we see machines, or the system, elevated above humans (in ads, products or even social programs), we have a glimmer of the mech meme. Its essence is the striving for a perfectly ordered, rational, super-intelligent world – without a trace of human “chaos.”

  • the genesis meme: the myth of genesis, the creation of the world – and our role in it – is the genesis meme. It’s the story of the hero and of destiny. We see it in so many films. In Tron, Jeff Bridges is the Creator. His children are Sam (biologically) and Quorra (in the grid). They are the new Adam and Eve, going into the world. After escaping the Grid (Eden), Quorra asks: What’s next? “I guess we’re supposed to change the world,” says Sam.

These are memes on a global scale. Day-to-day we catch only hints of them. But at the movies – it’s a showcase of memes.


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