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Cyborgs Among Us

Distributed by Passion River Films, 154 Mt. Bethel Rd., Warren, NJ 07059; 732-321-0711

Directed by Rafel Duran
DVD, color, color, 76 min.
High School - General Adult
Bioethics, Cyborgs, Disabilities, Health Sciences

Reviewed by Sophie M. Forrester, Reed Library, State University of New York at Fredonia

Date Entered: 4/6/2018

The term “cyborg” tends to evoke images of Star Trek-like, futuristic beings that visibly combine human and machine, and thus seem like neither, in an uncomfortable sort of uncanny valley. But as Cyborgs Among Us shows, cyborgs are already present, and much less obvious or frightening than one might think.

The film’s subjects run a wide gamut. At one end are a Swedish truck driver and a British teenager who simply want to use cybernetics to compensate for their disabilities; at the other, self-described transhumanists who see cybernetics as a cure for mortality. In between are a colorblind man whose computerized antenna allows him to hear colors, as well as ultraviolet and infrared rays, and a group of “biohackers” who implant magnets and microchips under their skin out of curiosity.

While the more extreme cybernetics supporters seem to invite criticism on themselves, the film avoids doing so, instead using them to exemplify the current and upcoming debate over the ethics of body modification. At the same time, the film neatly addresses issues of ableism in popular thought, as when one researcher asks why natural limbs are considered more “godly” than prosthetics.

As a result, Cyborgs Among Us works both as a look into a surprising scientific world and as an examination of disabilities and ableism. Viewers should be warned that the film contains several graphic scenes of surgery, and the occasional use of ableist language. However, its strengths far outweigh those drawbacks, and it is recommended for both public and academic libraries.