Cognitive Enhancement in the Movie Limitless Through a Lens of Structural Racism
|Image courtesy of Flickr user, Claire.
At the end of Limitless, we are meant to celebrate Eddie Morra’s rise to the top. We are given no indication that he will necessarily do good with his superhuman ability, and yet the tone is very clearly to root for him. Would we still share this opinion if the main character wasn’t the epitome of where western ideology dictates power should be distributed? The drug here appeals to a world in which productivity overshadows moral values, but the audience’s discussion of who is “responsible” enough to gain access to this productivity changes when our lens does . Inherent racial bias prevents an image other than a white male from possessing the fortitude and social responsibility to utilize the drug.
A second question sparked by this film was that of accountability. Are you the optimal self and if so, are you then accountable for all the actions performed under the drug? The subplot I have in mind for this question is Morra’s possible murder of a prostitute. The panel raised the issue of whether or not his lapse in memory warranted the disassociation between Morra and the murder. I think immediately of the case of Domenico Mattiello who manifested sexually abusive tendencies after developing a brain tumor. The same issues are raised in this subplot of what our limit is for holding someone accountable for the consequences of their actions when they may not have been coherent when making them. The difference in this case is there is now the added layer of responsibility of choosing to take an unapproved drug. The movie uses the mystery of the drug to take responsibility away from Morra and the audience celebrates as he gracefully slips out of the accusation. Again, we have to wonder if an audience would be so accepting of this if our lens were not through the character played by Bradley Cooper. Prejudice towards minority groups predict stereotypes of untrustworthiness that would not allow the potential murder to be swept under the rug so completely .
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