Join Eve and Daniel in this cool blast from their past—the very first podcast episode they recorded together on the classic movie Tron. With the upcoming release of Disney’s new Tron: Legacy , which will be opening in theaters in just a couple short weeks, it seemed a great time to pull this first endeavor to discuss a movie from a biblical worldview from the archives.

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Tron (1982) Poster

What is Tron about?

Tron is a 1982 Disney movie about a man that is transported into a virtual world within computers. Mainframe computers the size of buildings, large noisy keyboards, and scaffolding-packed, machine-filled offices date the movie to an era before the home computer. It prevented the movie from being a big hit since most people at the time the movie came out didn’t know much about computers. It was a movie ahead of its time. A more recent movie that can be compared to Tron is the movie Matrix.

The two worlds

Tron presents two separate worlds “separated by a computer screen.” In the “real” world people live and work completely unaware of the computer world where the programs “they created” interact. The two worlds are presented as completely separate but are merged together at the end. Are they connecting the philosophies between the world?

The User myth

The programs believe in “users” who have created them for a specific purpose, but it’s a myth because the repressive society that has taken over the computer world have separated the programs from their users and prevented many of them from fulfilling their “purpose.” While some might think this “religious” overtone to Tron comes from a Judeo/Christian worldview, it actually doesn’t. Tron actually supports more of a multi-god/demi-god sort of religion like the Greek and Roman pantheons. Each user has its own creator, not one single Creator of all programs. Agnostism and deism are both seen in relation to the “User” myth.

Fear of the User

Sark, one of the Master Control Program’s (MCP) cronies, knows users are real and he expresses fear because he knows that he’s not living up to the expectations of his user. This represents fear of a created being who knows that he has a creator and that he has not obeyed his creator. While the programs in general debate users as a myth, the programs in power know users are real and try to circumvent user influence on their existence.

Communication with the User

Clu is a program that is in direct contact with his user. Yet, in the tyranny of the mainframe, most of the programs cannot communicate with their users unless they can get to the massive towers that are guarded and barred from access. “They hate this tower. They’d close it down if they could.” It’s interesting that the “bad guys” are actively suppressing the common programs from access to the users—actually encouraging the common populace to believe that the users are myths, while at the same time, the bad guys not only know the users are real, but actually communicate with them.

Correlations with the real world

The programs ask the same sort of questions that humans ask: Who am I? How did I get here? Where am I going? What is my purpose in life?

Also, in the real world, when one of the company founders comments that his spirit exists in this programs, his comments are dismissed as religious nonsense—a interesting correlation with the user myth and also a side swipe at the notion that a creation is made in the “likeness” of his creator. “Let us make man in our own image.”

Tron

A program made to be a security watchdog that monitors unscheduled use of the system—including the MCP. Tron is dangerous to the MCP because it runs independently. Tron kind of appears as a messianic character, who “fights for the users.” Tron never loses his purpose even when severed from his user.

Flynn

Flynn is the user who is pulled into the system—the only transcendent character. He is an unwilling participant, and he doesn’t have a real purpose—which is opposite of a Christ figure. Yet he is the one that sacrifices himself, in order to distract the MCP so that Tron could win his battle with Sark.

Bit

Bit is a Yes/No interface that adds a “bit” of comic relief to Tron. It would seem that Bit is a type of “spirit” guide. This is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit that does not function in a Christian’s life like a magic eight ball that you shake for answers.

RAM

Ram is the program that best represents a skeptic. Broken by oppression, he has lost his faith in the users.

MCP

The “Master Control Program” (masquerading in the real world as a preincarnation of the Microsoft Surface) parallels with other movies that have technology becoming self aware, such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture , The Terminator, Matrix, and I, Robot. MCP is a thinking machine that can learn and develop—not written by any one user, which makes him not accountable to any user. He forces “atheism” on the other programs, but yet he communicates with his user. He refuses to share power with any user or program. He started out as a chess program, and that’s probably where he got his desire for power and his need to defeat his opponents.

According to a plan

Tron asks Flynn if everything he has done is according to a plan, but Flynn confesses that he’s just doing what he thinks will work at any given time, that users are just the same as programs in that sense.

Death

What happens after death? In the virtual computer world in Tron, nothing happens after death. This is consistent with an atheistic perspective on death. Data is also possibly presented as “eternal.”

Transcending

All that is visible must grow beyond itself and extend into the realm of the invisible.

This line is spoken when Tron goes into the tower to answer the call of his user. A puzzling statement—it could mean something like transcendentalism or enlightenment.

Political statements

When Tron came out, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States was still going strong. Beyond the religious connotations, there are several statements that could be taken as political remarks against communism and fascism. “Standard substandard training.” “Identity disk.” Programs working for the MCP are often brainwashed drones. The guardian of the I/O tower makes some comments that insinuate euthanasia. The virtual world under the MCP seems to demonstrate a repressive society contrasted with a free system (i.e., communism versus capitalism).

What do you think?

What did you think about Tron? We’re interested in hearing what you thought about the original classic film and what you think about Tron: Legacy, opening December 17.

Comment on this post on our website, email feedback@AreYouJustWatching.com (audio feedback welcome), or call (903) 231-2221. You can also follow Daniel and Eve on Twitter. And please join our Facebook Page. Don’t forget to leave us some five-star reviews in iTunes!

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters training, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcasts covering how to podcast, clean-comedy, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, all under the umbrella of Noodle Mix Network and having received nearly 20 award nominations. Daniel and his wife, Jenny, live near Cincinnati with their newborn son, "Noodle Baby."

4 comments on Tron – AYJW018

  1. Oliver says:

    I actually liked this episode significantly better than a lot of your normal episodes. You guys typically tend to preach to the choir and use almost excessive amounts of scripture. Here, however, you actually did a good amount of analysis on what was actually in the movie, from a variety of angles. I suppose part of that is due to a difference in audience – but I&#039m surprised you got away with even as much of a Christian worldview as was in this episode on a secular podcast. Hoping that future episodes are more tied in with the movies and not just &#039preachiness&#039 – of course, this may be a moot point, as the current episode drought is 2.5 times longer than it&#039s ever been before….does that mean you&#039ve given up???

    1. Hi, Oliver!

      No, we haven&#039t "given up." Since getting married, it&#039s been very hard to align schedules with Eve to do podcasts together, but we&#039re working on plans to revive it and have a line of movies we want to discuss. In fact, the Are You Just Watching? website is next in my redesign project, now that I&#039ve mostly finished The Audacity to Podcast.

      You said we&#039re preaching to the choir. Well, the choir is off-key! And sometimes, it&#039s the "choir" that needs the preaching the most!

      Clichés aside, you have to understand how we, like all others, implement our worldview. Scripture is the basis for our thinking in every area and we view the world around us through the Bible as if it was a pair of lenses. Secularists do the exact same thing, but their "lenses" are mostly opposite from ours. We all have a worldview that influences how we interpret the world around us.

      Our tagline is "critical thinking for the entertained Christian," and that&#039s our focus. Although we know that we have some secular listeners and some listeners from different religions, our focus is using the Bible as our foundation for thinking and then approaching entertainment with critical thinking.

      If you haven&#039t already, I suggest you listen to our first episode, where we talked about what critical thinking is and why we need it. I&#039ve thought about revisiting this in a future episode.

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