Satire in Sleeper
Essay title: Satire in Sleeper
In Woody Allens Sleeper, Miles Monroe is unfrozen in the year 2173 only to be exposed to a world in which the values from 200 years earlier are turned on their head. Rather than crtiquing the possible future, Allen uses this time travel as a satiric viewpoint on the current present in which we all live. Commenting on the social, technological and romantic state of events, Sleeper points us not forward but at our present selves as we view a world in which human interaction, love and independency are the norms by which to live.
The world in which Miles awakes is certainly a culture shock. Although the controlling government threatens indisgressions with a brain-scrambling, people appear happy due to a sterile dependency on orgasmatrons for sexual pleasure and an orb for a euphoric high. During a group dinner, Luna comments that “we should have had sex but their werent enough people.” This jabs at the current state of affairs in the early seventies in which sex was shifting away from monogamy and leaning towards liberal and commitmentless sexual encounters with several different partners at once. Therefore Allen constructs a future where sex, if continued on the same path as his contemporary period, would boil down to meaningless orgies and machine-induced intercourse merely to be thrown around. Rather than making love or any other slang for sex, Luna asks Miles if he would like to “perform” the act. With sex being one of the few things Miles believes in, he represents the norm in the sense that he would rather “rehearse” sexual intercourse flesh to flesh than leave it up to a machine.
The future is evidently one dominated by machines. Butlers are replaced by robots. Drugs are replaced by orbs. Sex, as mentioned earlier, is replaced by orgasmatrons. Even absolution of sins is doled out by a vending machine. This points to a twentieth century in which computers were beginning to pick up speed and a fear of a similar reliance on science. The people of the future are almost completely dependent on machinery and technology. In fact, one of the most common phrases heard in times of distress is “I want my orb”. Science has become an addiction which drives and sustains everyday life. Oddly enough, the scientific advancments of the future rarely work. The bazooka of the security police consistently blows up in their faces. The robot butlers are clueless when it comes to emergencies and artificial dogs are not much help either. However, the members of the undergroud go to the other extreme. While they are against the movements of the technology-run government, they seem to completely denounce any machines or even etiquette for that manner. Their base is simply campsites and their meals are thrown to them in the form of raw meat as if they were animals. The time is in need of a happy middle ground which utilizes technology but does not depend on it. Miles fairly represents this comfortable medium. He was a musician in 1973 and the clarinet is one of his desired tools. The musical instrument is devoid of any wires or electricity but still suggests an artistic and refined ability of the user. As well, when Miles discovers the 200 year old Volkswagon, it seems to be the only machine that actually works flawlessly. A reliance on machinery is pointless if the machines rarely function. Miles displays a use of technology which works but also an ability to distance himself from the orgasmatrons, etc.
Socially, many of the satirical laughs in the film come from undercutting the art and namely the artists of the future. Luna and her friends are completely aloof. They claim to value beauty above all things yet cannot even get the order of nature straight. Luna and her associates dress