Skip to main content

"Life" as political analogy, coming to you via Breitbart News


Immediately after seeing the film, I worked over whether or not the movie works as something the alt-right would produce to alienate us from the left. Mostly the film does work this way  -- as a sort of, de facto, Breitbart production -- I decided, though it's not entirely slam-dunk. There is no disparagement evident for the crew of the space station being a multicultural mix, for instance. Race is not invisible in the film; it feels conspicuous at times, like when the Japanese crew member is shown looking at his black wife on video conference; but the film maker, wherever he was actually raised, seems like someone who was a longtime habitat of a multicultural milieu, some place like London, and likes things that way. But the film cannot convince only as macabre relating to our current fascination with the possibility of life on Mars -- what it no doubt pretends to be doing -- because the idea of “threat” does not permeate this interest at all, whereas it absolutely saturates our current discussion on the matter of refugees. As such, and very much lured to do so by the film's plot developments and characterizations, in our minds we are drawn to play out the alt-right -- the “Breitbart” -- understanding of the film as not about an inclimate, teasing warning of what might be incurred in our species' subsequent adventures into outer space, but as clear-cut contemporary political analogy, applied to all of us here on Earth, warning of our being lead by an ideology that'll ostensibly bring ruin to everyone who matters. Indeed, an "afterword" could almost have been tagged on at the finish intoning overtly the film as rightwing political warning, and remained a surprise mostly fluent with what we'd witnessed. Something, perhaps, like this: 

Here you have seen a collection of well-meaning liberals engaging with something new they wanted to see a certain way -- namely, as benign, and hopefully responsive in a “mutual” way. It turned out they were engaging with one of the universe’s most dangerous predators -- something cunning, with an endless, insatiable appetite, but they were way too late in being able to see it. We need to unlearn our tendency to appreciate these liberals' well-meaning attitude and come to scorn it, in fact, as narcissistic and selfish -- as moral cover for their own undue professional success -- because it leads to criminally irresponsible results, to grand-scale loss of human lives. Just as we must unlearn our desire to view outer space as something that will abide us only contact with the unfamiliar and learn to see as venue to girt our own might, we must unlearn our naïve desire to view struggling people we’ve graciously let into our country as only wonderful additions that’ll in time sweeten our mix. Like this alien, they represent cultures that intend only to make use of our own resources to bring about their ascension. They grow/breed rapaciously, have no empathy, and won’t stop until our own civilization is in ruins. Learn from the lesson of this film: Come to understand refugees as they truly are -- rapacious alien rapists. Breach through the firewalls the left has put in place for you to remain ignorant of the destruction refugees are already incurring within your homelands! Keep faith with your wonderful homelands! Refuse liberal' mindwarping and overt intimidation! Refuse the insidious infidel!

What isn’t quite Breitbart about the film is that there actually is no animosity towards the alien itself. “Calvin” -- the name given by to him through an Earth-wide contest -- is just agency through which the liberal attitude of tolerance can be lampooned mercilessly and destroyed for good. For anyone adjusted to or who thrives on being cosmopolitan, it can take a lot to get us to hate a character who is black, educated, liberal, and who has a physical difficulty he has overcome to be the best in his scientific field, for a character like this represents pretty much exactly whom we’d hope to land as portrait on our hundred dollar bills to represent who we are. We are so much now the land that respects an individual’s right to totally realize themselves that we’ve put aside most former encumbrances -- like racism and cruel mockery of the disabled -- that would formerly have forestalled such a person’s ascension, denying him, as well as all of us. Now we are ready to greet any vastly evolved intelligence out there in the open court of space in a way that doesn’t shame us… that in fact, lends us dignity. But this film seeds some for this character -- deep anger and hate, that is -- which perhaps other dark-spirited cultural products will in future work upon.

He is the one on the ship in charge of interacting with the alien, making it come alive, and ultimately he lends it nutrition, food, from which to grow -- namely, his own body, as corpse -- as well as a tool through which to escape compound. Any other character we’d loathe almost immediately for such a dismayingly presumptive attitude towards something unknown -- for being beholden to such "lost in space" carelessness and cluelessness and self-rapture. The fact that as we begin to accrue this attitude here we immediately sense psychic obstacles blocking it -- he is black and physically disabled: are you sure you’re not just using the safety of this particular incidence to joyously exercise long-maintained racist compulsions? Recoil, recoil, recoil, the inner voice in us commands -- draws attention to them, arouses irritation and anger at these firewalls, and inspires a questioning of their legitimacy: people died owing to them -- how righteous can their ascribed place in our psyches actually be? These firewalls begin to seem an alien intrusion we’ve already incurred, and which, owing to mental nudges built into films like these, we now finally are beginning to see properly as the bulwarks against our own survival they ostensibly really are! Down with political correctness! Down, as well, with giving a damn if the one telling you to desist in your ostensible hatred is black, crippled, and head of the like of a respected scientific institute, if this means being cowed to being agreeable to whatever hell business he is intent on lest you lapse away from being safe from being ascribed one of the disposable charnel horde that is racist, homophobic, and sexist!

We note in the film, too, that while the black character is insidiously characterized as unworthy of trust -- someone to slowly work away at pulling allegiance from, and being stretched to do so with the numerous reappearances in the film of him as kind and good but also as -- yet again! -- ultimately a living trespass to the survival of the crew -- the white, American, brazen “cowboy” of the bunch, the character who would perform in a 20th-century version of this film as the captain and the star but who now is lucky to find some countenancing for his type being on the ship with it not yet being repellent to the conception of what a competent engineer might look like, comes out looking good, and maybe overlooked. He’s the star early on -- even as he’s but grease-bucket, “mechanic” muscle and adept physical agility doing what “minds” bid -- but fades graciously to let less macho characters command the stage -- ultimately, we note, for their aggregate ruin. But he shows guts in a way that doesn’t quite seem idiotic. He flamethrowers the alien all over the place. It turns out it’s mostly immune, even as he does succeed in getting it to scamper about the place in retreat, but he didn’t toy with it … and if that wasn’t up to snuff, well, at least his judgment was the right one, which was to go nuclear immediately.

The female captain of the ship is equally brave, but somehow doesn’t come out looking as good as he does. He’s as effectual as he possibly could be, while, we note, she does nothing to deter the alien -- at all: she just goes out in space, gets entangled by its occupying "octopus" legs, and clumsily drowns, chugging poisonous fluid. If “your” purpose in setting out to engage was only to pretty much passively accede to a layering on of destruction -- well done! Worse, perhaps like me many of the audience noted that if she had launched herself away from the station just when the creature punctured the tubes in her outfit filled with enough anti-freeze to drown her... when it had doomed her but also when its attention was more absorbed in entwining her destruction than in averting its own, she would have gotten rid of the pest as she and it found "home" in deep space. Instead, she let that moment lapse, drifted and climbed as close as she could to the doors of the space station, so to, apparently, histrionically dramatize her intentions not to be rescued, and, as well, ostensibly inadvertently put the alien back in easy leaping distance of the ship. What does she seem like in the end, other than a former model who has aged gracefully enough to yet stir considerable sexual interest, especially as she repines in the form of a sophisticated consort who is resolved to all her disagreeable duties, after having humiliatingly failed in a role unsuited for her, despite having spent everything she had to offer in endless, glistened, hopeful and encouraging remarks and appreciative looks of holism and well-being to her crew? 

The Breitbart contingent is full of MRA types, and this film is a tip of the hat to them too. Near the finish, two characters are trying to decide who will be the one who'll sacrifice themselves to bring demise to the alien -- who gets to live and who has to die. Normally in this situation we know the male will commit himself to heroic self-sacrifice, and as a result, come out seeming brave and manly. But the male character making the "offer" in this film is the most begrudged and least manly member in the crew -- his acceding to playing the traditional role for men in this instance would not so much be about manly bravado but about the ushered-about and maybe schizoid-afflicted man being compelled to play out his designated role as heel so the Mary Sue character  -- who actually is due by logic to be the one who ought to be sacrificing herself in this situation, as she's the security officer in charge of firewalling disaster -- can survive another day. It's a "Cinderella" situation of having to unrighteously never escape the attic -- I like loneliness and forlorn environments! Don't worry about me! -- to have a chance at ranging, and infuriatingly suffer as your distress at being requited by convention to something foul doesn't register in the narcissist who plays at taking onus but who knows she's covered from having to bear it, and who really doesn't give a damn for you anyway. So what to do in this situation, if you're the plotter, to stage revenge? You make her think she's safe, only to ultimately commit her to the terror of a deviated course which, without care, spins her out erroneously to the fate she thought she'd seen herself circumvented away from. Last one "standing"... the last character we focus on, is the male -- albeit only in, as well, his final throws. But he's not lost in surprise and terror, even as he is beyond dismayed as the alien gouges him grossly, a hundred different ways. For his fate, he could succour onto himself in his final moments, he'd at least got to anticipate, whereas she had only known the shock of a huge, terrifying betrayal, then dispatch. 

Comments

  1. Oh. Wow.
    Patrick,
    This is the coolest Spoiler Alert I have ever read.
    It likely surpasses telling our younger son, halfway through the movie, that "Soylent Green" is people.
    A decade later he has still not forgiven me, and we now refer to any synopsis as "Soylent Greening" the topic.
    You have also given my yet another reason to see the movie as planned, not so much to see the "surprise" (telegraphed by the previews I have already seen) but to see the subtlety of the interactions at a level of analysis I might have only mused about after seeing the movie. You have greatly added to the anticipated enjoyment of the film.
    You have also illuminated the "dumb blonde who trips as she is trying to get away from the monster" syndrome inherent in many science fiction movies.
    Success (and survival) in science requires the anticipation of possibilities and options. While you can't always predict the results of an action, you try to avoid the stupid ones where you get killed.
    That fiction stupidity is why I got furious with episodes of shows such as Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise because the "Leaders" were exploring new environments in a manner that not only were unnecessarily risky, but in ways that DESERVED for them and their crew to get killed.
    But is is NOT "liberalism" in the guise of leadership and love of all life forms. Instead it is the stupidity of the writers and the gullibility of the viewers that the writers are catering too.
    Good and evil are subjective, in that Stalin, Saddam, and Pol Pot thought they were doing good for the benefit of the (surviving) people.
    And "Good" only exists if YOU survive, and your survival only happens when you have the strength and resources to protect and defend yourself.
    Or as my high school Social Studies teacher quoted, "History is written by the survivors." He was in the 442nd Brigade in Europe during WW2 and was "one of the lucky ones." He survived.
    If Germany and Japan HAD won WW2, "The Man in the High Castle" would be a reality instead of fiction.
    Again, thanks for your comments.
    Allan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry for the grammatical errors. I think I got emotional with sharing my agreement with you.
      :)

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Superimposing another "fourth-wall" Deadpool

I'd like to superimpose the fourth-wall breaking Deadpool that I'd like to have seen in the movie. In my version, he'd break out of the action at some point to discuss with us the following:
1) He'd point out that all the trouble the movie goes to to ensure that the lead actress is never seen completely naked—no nipples shown—in this R-rated movie was done so that later when we suddenly see enough strippers' completely bared breasts that we feel that someone was making up for lost time, we feel that a special, strenuous effort has been made to keep her from a certain fate—one the R-rating would even seemed to have called for, necessitated, even, to properly feed the audience expecting something extra for the movie being more dependent on their ticket purchases. That is, protecting the lead actress was done to legitimize thinking of those left casually unprotected as different kinds of women—not as worthy, not as human.   


2) When Wade/Deadpool and Vanessa are excha…

"The Zookeeper's Wife" as historical romance

A Polish zoologist and his wife maintain a zoo which is utopia, realized. The people who work there are blissfully satisfied and happy. The caged animals aren't distraught but rather, very satisfied. These animals have been very well attended to, and have developed so healthily for it that they almost seem proud to display what is distinctively excellent about them for viewers to enjoy. But there is a shadow coming--Nazis! The Nazis literally blow apart much of this happy configuration. Many of the animals die. But the zookeeper's wife is a prize any Nazi officer would covet, and the Nazi's chief zoologist is interested in claiming her for his own. So if there can be some pretence that would allow for her and her husband to keep their zoo in piece rather than be destroyed for war supplies, he's willing to concede it.

The zookeeper and his wife want to try and use their zoo to house as many Jews as they can. They approach the stately quarters of Hitler's zoologist …

Full conversation about "Bringing Up Baby" at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club

Richard Brody shared a link.Moderator · November 20 at 3:38pm I'm obsessed with Bringing Up Baby, which is on TCM at 6 PM (ET). It's the first film by Howard Hawks that I ever saw, and it opened up several universes to me, cinematic and otherwise. Here's the story. I was seventeen or eighteen; I had never heard of Hawks until I read Godard's enthusiastic mention of him in one of the early critical pieces in "Godard on Godard"—he called Hawks "the greatest American artist," and this piqued my curiosity. So, the next time I was in town (I… I was out of town at college for the most part), I went to see the first Hawks film playing in a revival house, which turned out to be "Bringing Up Baby." I certainly laughed a lot (and, at a few bits, uncontrollably), but that's not all there was to it. I had never read Freud, but I had heard of Freud, and when I saw "Bringing Up Baby," its realm of symbolism made instant sense; it was obviou…