Monday, 11 June 2012

Prometheus: Hollywood alludes, yet again, to the destruction of mankind.

Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters are repeatedly echoing the theme of mankind’s (self-)destruction.

In Avatar, we learn that humanity has exhausted Earth’s resources (and degraded the environment severely) so that the species has to invade, terrorise, massacre and plunder another planet for its natural resources (a highly controversial storyline because it was a pretty transparent allegory and indictment of US policy in Iraq and Israeli policy in Palestine).

In Prometheus, we learn that our creators (the ‘Engineers’) have judged that mankind is actually a contemptible species that should be destroyed. If I understood the plot correctly (big ‘if’ because it is quite tricky), then the ‘Alien’ creature that cinemagoers have been familiar with for the last thirty-three years is something that has been bred as a WMD for that purpose (genocide of a species – us).

Indeed, the WMD potential of the Alien is a recurring theme in the Alien films: the Weyland Corporation thinks that it can control and exploit the creature as a component in its biological weapons division.

– Again, an allusion to our own state and politics on Earth: there are recurrent signs that we are on the edge of destroying ourselves through ‘Pandora-box’ technology, e.g. Hiroshima, Cuban Missile Crisis, Chernobyl, Fukushima, perpetual war in the Middle East with the constant threat of WMD use (in fact, the use of depleted uranium weapons in those theatres is already a major step in that direction).

And, apart from WMD, the Prometheus plot also alludes to our species’ suicidal tendency of destroying our own biosphere: at one point in the film, the Dr Shaw character warns the crew that ‘we have changed the climate!’ – and the climate change precipitates a massive deadly hurricane (of sulphur gas, I think).

The weather on their destination planet (‘LV-223’) is always overcast, cold, raining and miserable. I saw the film in mid-June 2012, when our own weather was exactly the same, and bizarre for this time of year; and, moreover, when there were numerous media reports of floods and flood-warnings around the country – again, bizarre for this time of year. So the film’s allusions to humanity’s vandalising of the biosphere seemed particularly prescient.

It is ironic that, on the one hand: Hollywood comprises a nexus of powerful unaccountable corporations whose sole purpose is to maximise profit; yet, on the other hand: it repeatedly produces films whose plots are major indictments of that very corporate philosophy.

On a lighter note: the IMAX cinema experience is great! (Can’t wait for ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ in IMAX.)

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