Dave Eggers, patron saint of the twee and the poignantly absurd, is returning to the big screen. An adaptation of “The Circle,” his sly takedown off Internet giants, is hitting theaters in 2016 and Emma Watson has just announced as the lead. Tom Hanks, who you might have heard of, will play a supporting role.
The novel follows protagonist Mae, a recent college graduate who beings working in an entry-level position for a Google/Facebook type company. As she ascends the ranks, she becomes ensnared in its mindset and finds her notions of privacy evolving until she’s happily giving talks with titles like “Secrets Are Lies” and “Privacy is Theft.”
The themes of privacy, surveillance, and corporate overreach are all rather timely in the wake of reports of Facebook identification tech moving forward. What is seen by the tech-obsessed and optimistic as constant progress, disgusts Eggers, who does little to hide his aesthetic concerns in passages like this:
Listen, twenty years ago, it wasn’t so cool to have a calculator watch, right? And spending all day inside playing with your calculator watch sent a clear message that you weren’t doing so well socially. And judgments like ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ and ‘smiles’ and ‘frowns’ were limited to junior high. Someone would write a note and it would say, ‘Do you like unicorns and stickers?’ and you’d say, ‘Yeah, I like unicorns and stickers! Smile!’ That kind of thing. But now it’s not just junior high kids who do it, it’s everyone, and it seems to me sometimes I’ve entered some inverted zone, some mirror world where the dorkiest shit in the world is completely dominant. The world has dorkified itself.
Forrest Gump and the smartest witch of her age seem to indicate a significant budget, which might make this the satirical Social Network. But is technology magic or magic’s opposite? Arthur C. Clark would have something to say on the subject.