Sunday, August 16, 2009

Poli. Sci-fi

I don't intend to post movie reviews, but saw a movie that provoked such a reaction, I had to write it off my chest.

Last night, I went and saw District 9, directed by Peter Jackson. With the internet buzz surrounding it, my expectations were primed. Unfortunately, I was the victim of over-hype. That alone would be nothing noteworthy, as this happens to movies, books and games all the time. No, what got me going was something else entirely.

Perhaps one of the largest disservices I have ever done to myself, was to minor in Political Science while attending the University of [state in which I attended]. At the time, the topic was new and interesting to me, and seemed to mesh well with the history degree I was pursuing and eventually earned. It was, in essence, a glimpse behind the curtain. We covered everything from our own (American) political history, through Constitutional procedures, elections and even the appropriate construction and analysis of a political poll. With a newly heightened awareness of all things political, I began to see the subtle and not-so-subtle political underpinnings throughout various elements of daily life. My wife, an executive chef, rarely enjoys eating out, because she understands what a professional kitchen and it's staff are like vis-a-vis the food. Similarly, had I known more, I would not have bothered with District 9.

Without offering spoilers, the movie will seem to be a great movie with a great idea based largely on events of the current day: a mirror of reality, so to speak. That is, if you suscribe to a particular worldview. If you are of the opposing view, you'll see it as tripe built up by the kind of mentality you disagree with. So which am I? Irrelevant really, and I'll tell you why.

In childhood, I remember watching and enjoying syndicated re-runs of the original Star Trek television series. I don't remember any subtle political commentary from them. Watching them now however, I only see childhood innocence lost. Those Star Trek episodes are chock-full of political commentary upon the place and time in which they were made.

Prolonged exposure to political underpinnings attached to as much of daily life as possible, has jaded me to the point where I now think of the notion of injustice as juvenile. Injustice suffered by people, executed by people to the benefit of people. Indeed, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Injustice is the ugly mole. Injustice is the dirty little secret. Injustice is the pink elephant in the room. How so? Injustice decried by an unjust species is unjust, hypocritical, oxymoronic or a combination thereof, not sure which. Now, whenever I hear the cry and hue of injustice raised, I walk away. The only thing I care to hear about injustice, is someone doing something positive to remedy the situation; I don't need a damned gadfly.

As an example, recently, there has been a category five fecal maelstrom in the blogosphere I frequent, surrounding a post by John C. Wright to his live journal. I don't care for the in-your-face manner (i.e. blindly arrogant) the post was written and know of the writer only because I've two of his books in my to-read stacks. In short, Mr. Wright offered, boldly and unapologetically, an opinion. This particular opinion can be very unpopular and offensive. The inevitable backlash fell somewhere between boycotting his works (my kind of style - a quick mental vomit and never approach again), to ad hominem. What was absent, was a response from an ideological opponent that wrested the issue away from Mr. Wright and used reasoned language to persuade others, lurking (i.e. me) or otherwise. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Wright and his opposition have much more in common, concerning their approach to things, than either side would be willing to concede (i.e. blind arrogance).

I would like to partake of entertainment to be, well, entertained. I would like to enjoy art for it's artistry. I don't want to be preached at, nudged or pointed in any direction. Hey, color me apolaustic, but I know what I think and why I think so. I don't need shoving. Seriously, do you expect to see humanity uniting to form something like the United Federation of Planets, or do expect something more apocalyptic? I know what I'm betting on.

If you want to see a movie based on a graphic novel, that earned every ounce of it's hype, then get a copy of The Watchmen. Forget about District 9.

I would like to offer an apology for the ranting and raving. Have a different take on District 9, or even my perspective? Go ahead and post a comment; we'll talk about it.


Anonymous said...

I think I agree with you. But you didn't offer any specifics. I will. I enjoyed the movie when I ignored the obvious parallel to apartheid and the racist portrayal of the Nigerians and the predictable plot. As soon as he was sprayed with the stuff, you just knew what was going to happen. As soon as we started following him into the ghetto during the eviction, it was also obvious that his views of the aliens would be turned around at some point. I also didn't like the two-dimensional characterization of the aliens. Their were mindless goons, except for the two smart ones. Those two are ok and we can relate to, because, they are like us - smart, therefore worthy.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the movie but I had to ignore a lot to do so.

PeterWilliam said...

Bingo, froghopper. The movie felt too much like a vehicle constructed to push a perspective, rather than provoke a thought. The topics we wrestle with in reality are difficult because there is more than one legitimate take on the matter. Tossing verbal, thought or snark grenades merely perpetuates contention.

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