46

The Incredibles 2, the Screenslaver's name is a clear pun on "screensaver". Screensavers were invented in 1984. The film takes place in a broad 1950s pastiche, and we don't see any personal computers or other similar monitor based devices, rendering this pun completely useless. Yet a villain as obsessed with invention and design as The Screenslaver would surely not pick a name that's completely meaningless! What, in-universe, could have prompted them to name themselves this? What is the joke, if not on Screensaver?

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    According to the newspaper, it's set in 1962. – Stop Harming Monica Jun 10 at 13:25
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    The technology availability isn't important because the story isn't meant to take place in a specific time period. It's reminiscent of the 1960s with its style and tone but has no problem employing modern technology, themes, and clothing when it suits them. Sort of like Bruce Timm's Dark Deco, for example. – TheIronCheek Jun 10 at 15:26
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    FUN FACT: According to the director. The first movie takes place in the future but the vision of the future the people had in the 50s just like the Fallout 3. So yeah... – Delta Oscar Uniform Jun 10 at 18:46
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    @JonathanIrons: If you can support that answer with a citation, that would make for a good answer (not a comment). – V2Blast Jun 10 at 20:33
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    @V2Blast One of the answers allready did it. – Delta Oscar Uniform Jun 10 at 20:39
75

Bob's job at Insuricare involved him working with a desktop terminal/computer

enter image description here

Given the limits of technology, it seems likely that such a device would have a screensaver to prevent the classic green screen burn-in.


You might also want to note that the concept of a screen slave (in the literal sense of a terminal slaved to a mainframe) has been around since the 1950s. The metaphor didn't, I assume, go unnoticed by those who had to sit in front of them all day for work, nor by those who spotted that their friends and family were entranced by the idiot box in the corner of their living room.

“Screens were hypnotizing us 30 years ago,” he explained to HelloGiggles. “Where everybody was plunked down in front of the television and just changing channels and staying there all day. The idea of people kind of forgetting what's going on around them, in favor of what's going on inside this cool glowing box is not a new idea, but it is one that stays with us.”

The new villain in Incredibles 2 makes the movie sound like a terrifying episode of Black Mirror

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    I spent my college years in front of these kinds of green screens back in the 80's. I can confirm that the notion of a screen saver didn't exist back then beyond typing "CLR" or turning the screen off manually. – user71418 Jun 10 at 13:05
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    OMG they even included the wavy bands that would show up when filming a CRT due to retrace intervals. What attention to detail!! Go Pixar! – Ross Presser Jun 10 at 13:51
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    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screensaver - The concept has been around since the 60s and a reality since the early 1980s – Valorum Jun 10 at 13:55
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    Further to that quote, he's wrong about "30 years". Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1952 (published in 1953). He increased the size of the screens, sure, but he'd already spotted how people were tied to their TVs. So closer to 70 years, and 10 years before the hypothetical date of the film. – Graham Jun 10 at 15:27
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    I suspect your answer is not correct but includes the correct one. OP is mistaken in their assertion that 'the Screenslaver's name is a clear pun on "screensaver".' as to use the term Screen Saver is more familiar. To those who deal with mainframe screen slaves may have made the link that to have a Screen Slave would involve a Screen Slaver who enslaves things. – TafT Jun 11 at 7:14
63

Because the film isn't actually set in the past

While the film has the appearance of something out of the 60s, it's actually set in a stylized present, imagined through the lens of what the people in the 1960s thought the future would look like.

This is made more confusing by the fact that Bob reads a newspaper dated May 16, 1962 in the first film.

bob newspaper

But in a Bustle interview, writer/director Brad Bird and producers Nicole Grindle and John Walker explained:

"I probably wouldn’t have put 1962 on the newspaper if I thought it would get out," Bird said. "I didn’t even know that we did that. I just wanted it to feel like the '60s." Grindle added, "It’s more just like an aesthetic choice than anything," while Walker went a step further, saying the idea was to create a future based on the 1960s. "You [Brad] always said it’s like the imagined future from the '60s," Walker said. "That’s when it’s set. What people in the '60s thought was coming."

(emphasis mine)

This isn't a horribly uncommon style decision either, especially in the superhero genre.

Retrofuturism

As @CaptainMan mentions in the comments, the idea of an imagined future from the vantage point of a specific time period is a style known as retrofuturism and is the basis for the stylized realities seen in shows like Batman: The Animated Series (and Bruce Timm's other DC Animated Universe shows) as well as the steampunk genre. From the Wikipedia article:

Retrofuturism (adjective retrofuturistic or retrofuture) is a movement in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced in an earlier era. If futurism is sometimes called a 'science' bent on anticipating what will come, retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation.

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    This is probably the best way to look at it; it's not a period piece. Or (or in addition) it's a deliberately anachronistic nod to the present-day audience. – CCTO Jun 10 at 14:03
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    Archer (2009 tv series) is a similar example, you can say it's set in an alternate universe blending technology and culture from 1960s through today. – usul Jun 10 at 15:24
  • It kinda looks like 1982... I would've bought 1982... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 10 at 19:27
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    For the curious, the term for this style is "retrofuturism". From the Wikipedia article, "a movement in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced in an earlier era. If futurism is sometimes called a 'science' bent on anticipating what will come, retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation. Characterized by a blend of old-fashioned "retro styles" with futuristic technology, retrofuturism explores the themes of tension between past and future, and between the alienating and empowering effects of [tech]" – Captain Man Jun 11 at 19:20
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    Furthermore, May 16 was not a Monday in 1962. – Dave Tweed Jun 13 at 12:57
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Screensavers as we know them didn't exist then. I don't recall the character admitting that it was a pun, so I assume that the name comes from the behaviour.

Screenslaver enslaves and ensnares people through the medium of the screen - especially those who are already victims of screen addition. The quote given in Valorum's answer describes this.

The "Screenslaver" name is a pun primarily intended for the (modern) audience, but it does describe the nature of the crime involved.

2

I was thinking screen enslaver got morphed into screenslaver, as the looking at screens was how folks got hypnotized/enslaved. Not necessarily a screen saver.

  • OP was more interested in the real-world pun behind the name – Valorum Jun 10 at 16:26
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    I would suggest it wasn't a pun then, and the premise is incorrect. – CrossRoads Jun 10 at 16:29
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    @Valorum That doesn't appear to be entirely true: "What, in-universe, could have prompted her to name herself this?" – TheLethalCarrot Jun 10 at 16:30
  • @TheLethalCarrot - I think the principle behind the question isn't why she'd call herself the screenslaver (because she makes people slaves with her screens, duh) but why she'd pick a name that was such an obvious pun on screensaver, a term that OP feels is an anachronism. – Valorum Jun 10 at 16:47
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    @Valorum Pointing out that the premise of a question is invalid is perfectly fine as an answer – slebetman Jun 11 at 8:24
2

You missed the point "screenslaver" isn't necessarily a pun on screensaver it's a pun on consumerism of media and radio in a broader sense.

For 30 years of its existence (1936–1967) television was entirely in black and white.

CRTs were also invented before the 1930s with the first commercially made electronic television sets with cathode-ray tubes were manufactured by Telefunken in Germany in 1934.

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If not mistaken is based on the 70s. Yet it does not mean their 70s is the same as our 70s. What do you mean there are no computers. Like they have better technology than we had in the 70s or if you want to say the 50s. There are different monitors in those movies. Is just a kids movie, is does not need to have a coherent time period.

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    Purely for the record, Bob's newspaper in the first film says that it's 1962. The second film would also be set in the same year – Valorum Jun 10 at 7:23
  • @Valorum However, writer/director Brad Bird and producers Nicole Grindle and John Walker explained that this was more an aesthetic choice rather than trying to make everything seem like that time period. – Grumpy says Reinstate Monica Jun 11 at 20:56

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