August 20, 2013

Yes, Elysium is political

But so what? (Warning: Rambling rant to follow):

Despite what the film's director and star Matt Damon claim, the movie is very political. But, much of it's just stupid political if you ask me. As you may have heard by now, "Elysium" is the name of the huge space station orbiting Earth and home to the very richest of the planet's [former] citizens. These folks essentially can live forever thanks to the pinnacle of modern medical technology. Just don't ask how this tech works, however. I had to guffaw when bad guy Sharlto Copley's disintegrated lower skull was instantly rematerialized in one of these medical pods. C'mahn.

You're sure to ask just how this tech is so miraculous ... when even those on Elysium are still using alpha-numeric keyboards and large screen LC monitors or their computers, for one thing. It's supposed to be 2154, after all. That's over 130 years from now, dammit. Consider where we were 130 years ago and then tell me we'll still be using such tech for computers. Not to mention, given the year, why the hell were there 1970s model automobiles on the streets of the dilapidated Los Angeles? 1970s!! I mean, really? The poor residents of LA couldn't use makeshift 2110 model cars? Even 2080 models?? I know that director Neill Blomkamp wanted to give the city a sort of "Cuba" feel -- like how cubanos have to make do with revamping old 1950s-era American automobiles among other tech -- but this just goes too far.

But, after all, those are just scifi nits. The big question is, how the hell did the world situation come about that gave us this ritzy space station, and the ridiculously poverty-stricken planet below? All of LA looks like Rio de Janeiro's favelas, even once-modern downtown with its skyscrapers and all. Blomkamp wants us to analogize the situation to the US-Mexico relationship, or even the Western world to the Third World in general. We see "illegals" taking off from LA in a desperate attempt to reach Elysium to make use of a medical pod. The pod won't work, however, unless you have a tattoo of an Elysium citizen. (Get it? Green card, Social Security card, etc.) For some reason, the citizens of Elysium refuse to share the miraculous medical tech with Earth. At all. Really. I mean, one damn medical pod can instantly heal anything and any number of people, yet Elysium refuses to even loan one out. (I guess this is supposed to be analogous to the dastardly pharmaceutical cos. not giving free drugs to poor nations.)

Poor Matt Damon, who's accidentally irradiated at work and hence has but five days to live, is merely given a few pain pills to ease his agony. Such sets in motion the main plot: Damon will somehow get to the space station and heal himself. I won't offer up any spoilers from here on out, but my question remains: How could such a situation come about? Elysium ruled Earth with an authoritarian fist, via their robotic police force. It would have taken many years -- decades, at least -- to construct such a station; did the "evil" one percent manage to build it all ... by deception? Perhaps with a promise that anyone could venture to live there sometime?

Blomkamp certainly isn't the first to relay such a message. In the 1970s we saw the likes of Soylent Green (starring Chuck Heston) and Rollerball (starring James Caan) where wealthy corporate types have control of the world and care not much about anything but themselves. In the former, the Soylent corporation begins making food out of people after it, and many other corporations, have essentially trashed the planet's ecology. In Rollerball, nations' borders are defined by which major corporation is HQ'd there, and the public is kept placated by ultra-violent "sports" like the film's title.

"Progressives" will champion Blomkamp's vision; however, the important thing to consider is just how and why certain countries are successful ... and others aren't. The same "progressives" will clamor that the US (like other developed nations) has basically "robbed its way to prosperity" from the very beginning, starting with the Native Americans. Certainly, a chunk of this has merit, but not nearly to the degree "progressives" would have us all believe. This isn't the post to now delve into all such reasons; just consider what I noted above, and then ask yourself to what degree countries like ours obligated to help others less developed. And how.

Posted by Hube at August 20, 2013 07:24 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

The thing about Soylent Green was that it was supposed to have been a movie adaptation of Harry Harrison's novel "Make Room! Make Room!" which was a pretty serious look at the social problems in a population explosion. (Harrison always was an under-rated SF writer in my opinion.) There were no people being ground up for food in the novel, and if I recall correctly Harrison denounced the adaptation later.

Posted by: Steve Newton at August 20, 2013 08:21 PM

Interesting, Steve. I knew it was based on Harrison's novel, but didn't know the people/food part wasn't in the book.

Posted by: Hube at August 20, 2013 08:23 PM

I don't plan on seeing this one personally... the premise doesn't interest me. I liked District 9, although its messages really hit you over the head.

Posted by: Carl at August 20, 2013 11:37 PM

Hey I'm just glad they're using 1970's cars as shorthand for crappy, downtrodden society. It's like they're finally admitting the 70's sucked.

Posted by: Duffy at August 22, 2013 02:06 PM

I watched it online the other night. I wasn't impressed. Plus all the progressive politicking annoyed me.

Posted by: Carl at January 13, 2014 04:12 PM

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