The illusion of empathy

VR was sold as an ‘empathy machine’ — but some artists are getting sick of it

At last week’s Tribeca Film Festival, I asked director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) what had inspired her to experiment with virtual reality for The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes, a VR documentary that was included in the 2017 Tribeca Immersive showcase. “I think that the simple answer is empathy,” Bigelow said. “Not that film doesn’t create empathy, of course it does,” she continued. But VR, to Bigelow and her co-director Imraan Ismail, offered an intimacy that traditional cinema can’t. It was the perfect way to raise the profile of the real-life rangers who protect endangered elephants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — which was, ultimately, The Protectors’ goal. ….[READ]