The movie “The Circle” opens in theatres today. At first glance it appears to be a movie about a young woman (Emma Watson) who lands her dream job at a bit tech firm. From watching the trailer it has remnants from several other movies, but I can’t place my finger on which ones. And I mean that in a good way. It gives me some kind of familiarity with other movies, which in my opinion means I will like the movie. There are two things that really struck me after watching the trailer, 1) the idea of privacy and 2) how they are able to pull off a big tech firm without copying an existing one.
Let me explain the second point first. The movie is centered around this large tech firm. Think any of the big name, real life tech firms – like Apple or Google. We have an idea of what their campuses look like, outside and in. Side note – it’s interesting that the campus in “The Circle” is a circle and kind of looks like the new Apple campus. So on one hand the people that made the movie are trying to emulate a real life tech company. But on the other hand they want it to be secondary in the movie so that the characters shine through. It is a very interesting concept. It’s fictional, so you don’t want to say that it is Apple. But you want it to be believable enough so you emulate these real companies.
And it has the markings of one of these firms. The large “campus” for starters. What other organization (other than a college, let’s say) actually has a campus. It’s definitely a Google-style set up. Or if you’re familiar with HBO’s Silicon Valley, and prefer a fictional company, think Hooli. But the point is that it’s eerily similar to a real company. Which means that the people behind the movie had to put a great deal of thought and effort into getting everything right. On top of actually making the movie. Which is huge. Imagine having to create an entire fictional setting in a way that is real to life as possible, but while staying fictional.
The second thing that struck me about this movie is the idea of privacy. As I watched the trailer, there was music playing that kept repeating the words “they’re watching you”. Over and over again. I find this concept extremely fascinating. As technology progresses, it feels like there are so many more capabilities to be “watched”. From having the ability to have your location added to your Tweet, to having microchips installed into your employees, it feels Orwellian. Or at least that’s where I always go with this. And this movie seems to hit that nail on the head. The company knows where Emma Watson’s character is at all times. And they know about her father’s disability before she tells them.
Which makes me wonder what information is out there about us, and who has it? And for what purposes? My employer always says that they can track me through software installed on my work phone. And maybe that’s ok during work hours. But should they be able to track me outside of the work week? And are they doing that? I’m not suggesting they are, but from a legal perspective they have no right to do that. But they own the device and therefore can do anything they want with it. Right? I have a bit of an ethical issue with this as I wonder where we draw the line? If the sole purpose of the tracking is to determine where the phone is should it get lost or stolen, that’s one thing. But could my boss also track me if I call in sick one day and they don’t believe me?
Getting back to the movie, I feel like these privacy concerns are being brought to light on the big screen. While also attempting to entertain people. And maybe even warning people about what could happen. I recognize that this might be a bit far fetched, but I also think we need to be aware of these concerns. Ultimately the movie itself looks really good, and I can’t wait to see it.