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Virtual reality and paranoid culture in Wild Palms

by Critical Commons Manager

The ABC miniseries Wild Palms both anticipates and recapitulates some of the most prevalent cliches of virtual reality in the early 1990s. Set in Los Angeles of the future, the narrative reflects the outcome of a number of 1990s cultural obsessions including paranoid culture, Scientology and the proximate future technology of virtual reality, manifested as a pyrrhic conflict between the "friends" and the "fathers," explained as manifestations of political movements represented by libertarians and fascists. 


A company with the slogan, "Is it real or is it Mimecom?" has produced a virtual reality engine created by a paraplegic designer, that threatens world domination, delivered by television. The later versions of the system are accompanied by a hallucinogenic drug called Mimezine, which amplifies the experience of VR, providing the illusion of touch, and therefore improving the experience of cybersex. 

Wild Palms VR living room demo

A living room demo of commercial VR featuring collision detection delivered via television

from Wild Palms (1993)
Creator: Bruce Wagner
Distributor: ABC
Posted by Critical Commons Manager