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Rollerball: The game is created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort

Marshall Auerback sent me this video of Rollerball. I liked it so much, I thought I would post it.

The money quote:

The game is created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort. If the champion defeats the meaning, then he must lose.

From Wikipedia:

In the film, the world of 2018 is a global corporate state, containing entities such as the Energy Corporation, a global energy monopoly based in Houston which deals with nominally-peer corporations controlling access to all transport, luxury, housing, communication, and food on a global basis.

The film’s title is the name of a violent, globally popular sport around which the events of the film take place. It is similar to Roller Derby in that two teams clad in body armor skate on roller skates (some instead ride on motorcycles) around a banked, circular track. There, however, the similarity ends. The object of the game is to score points by the offensive team (the team in possession of the ball) throwing a softball-sized steel ball into the goal, which is amagnetic, cone-shaped area inset into the wall of the arena. The team without possession of the ball is defensive and acts to prevent scoring. It is a full-contact sport in which players have considerable leeway to attack opposing players in order to take or maintain possession of the ball and to score points (in the overpopulated world of the original short story, the object of the game is to kill off the other players). In addition, each team has three players who ride motorcycles to which teammates can latch on and be towed. The player in possession of the ball must hold it in plain view at all times.

Rollerball teams, named after the cities in which they are based, are owned by the various global corporations. Energy Corporation sponsors the Houston team. The game is a substitute for all current team sports and for warfare. While its ostensible purpose is entertainment, Mr. Bartholomew, a high-level executive of the Energy Corporation, describes it as a sport designed to show the futility of individual effort.

About 

Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty years of business experience. He is also a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. Edward also writes a premium financial newsletter. Sign up here for a free trial.

2 Comments

  1. Oldrich says:

    First that comes to mind is Jack London’s novel “Iron heel” with the same theme of the fight against corporate power/oligarchy. Then there is a sci-fi novel “Return from the stars” from a great Polish author Stanislav Lem which deals with the topic of future society being protected from all sorts of activities deemed risky or dangerous (and the same time being unintentionally dumbed down). And obviously the famous “1984″ from Orwell.

  2. Dave Holden says:

    “The Hunger games” anyone..