The following explores three films challenging the leftist narrative, deliberately or otherwise.
The premise: A flying saucer hovers over Johannesburg in 1982. After nothing happens for three months, a team drills into the hull, finding a million starving and miserable space bugs. The aliens are moved to a camp called District 9, staying for nearly three decades. The alien “Prawns” are mercenaries, but who their bosses are (and why they stopped on Earth) is unknown. Many questions are left unanswered, though a sequel may yet be made.
The Prawns are routinely dealt with harshly. Because of friction with the locals, the now 1.8 million aliens are to be moved to a more remote location, allegedly better but basically a concentration camp. One of the mean bureaucrats accidentally sprays himself with bug juice and starts turning into a Prawn (recalling The Fly). His attitude changes as an evil corporation plot line quickly unfolds.
The spin: This has obvious parallels to South Africa’s former apartheid policies. Even Star Trek’s ham-fisted political messages were usually more subtle. The aliens are depicted as victims. The medical experiments are especially unconscionable.
The squalid internment camp was a real shanty town about to be shut down and its residents moved to another government housing project. Basically it’s like what was happening in the plot, although the new location actually was better. The filmmakers changed little about the shanty town’s appearance. Surely this horrified many upon learning this background information—this much was real!
The final take: The only Prawns displaying intelligence and ambition are Christopher (surely their leader) and his son (about as cute as a little space bug can get). The others are dull and aimless. They’re hive-like, suggesting extreme r-selection. By the end, their population is up to 2.5 million; they breed like, well, bugs. How will that work out in the long term?
Besides Christopher and his son, they aren’t seen improving their collective situation, doing anything with their individual lives, or engaging in cultural exchange. All told, they just aren’t fitting into earthly society, apparently unmotivated to do so. They’re not working, starting local businesses, building better residences, or even cleaning up their neighborhood. The Prawns just loiter and cause trouble, which is why they’re walled off and to be evicted from District 9. There aren’t any good solutions.
The MNU corporation clearly goes too far. Even so, chronically aggressive populations—idle and unassimilable refugees particularly—inevitably require a certain degree of what Mussolini called educational severity. Why let them in, especially if firmness necessary to manage them seems morally unpalatable? This science fiction story unintentionally highlights a real-world problem. Letting in hordes of hard-luck cases, incompatible with the host society and a net drain upon it, creates an imported lumpenproletariat. How does society benefit?
As for the depressing shanty town in the film—again, a real settlement—it was trashed out because the people there weren’t cleaning it up. Otherwise it would’ve been threadbare but tidy. They did this to themselves; nobody forbade them to pick up their own garbage. Oh, and wasn’t ANC rule supposed to bring harmony to South Africa and end poverty? It didn’t quite work that way. Looks like the film’s metaphor went further than expected. From that perspective, District 9 unintentionally was 2009’s most politically incorrect film.
The premise: A man who wants to attend his daughter’s birthday gets stuck in an epic Los Angeles traffic jam. “D-FENS”, a victim of the divorce industry and recently unemployed, snaps from stress. He walks away from his car and suffers one indignity after another. Instead of taking it, he fights back. Naturally, the police get involved, and the stage is set for the final tragedy.
It’s a decent look at the quiet desperation of the early 1990s. A recession was going on, though small potatoes compared to the latest. The LA riots were in recent memory. Other destructive trends were afoot, the final results only a few could begin to predict.
The spin: This did strike a chord for those disliking these trends, being put down constantly by the leftist establishment, and being told the country our forefathers built doesn’t belong to us. (These days, even establishment conservatives tell us to go to hell, just like sneering leftists.) Liberal reviewers noted the “angry White male” theme with displeasure.
Unfortunately, the message is that we indeed must take one indignity after another, and we’d better sit down and shut up about it:
D-FENS: I’m the bad guy?
D-FENS: How’d that happen? I did everything they told me to. Did you know I build missiles? I helped to protect America. You should be rewarded for that, but instead they give it to the plastic surgeons. You know they lied to me.
Policeman: Is that what this is about? You’re angry because you got lied to? Is that why my chicken dinner is drying out in the oven? Hey, they lie to everyone. They lie to the fish. But that doesn’t give you any special right to do what you did today.
The one bright spot is that the policeman defers retirement, contrary to his overbearing wife’s wishes. He stands up for what’s important, and succeeds. Still, it’s not enough to redeem the movie.
The final take: Unfortunately, the filmmakers depicted D-FENS as a nut, rather than a rational person badgered too far. Most of the things D-FENS gets aggro about are unimportant, such as inflated prices and the breakfast menu ending.
Further ensuring it didn’t encourage those with “wrong” beliefs, the filmmakers inserted a scene with a whacky military surplus store owner, straight from the Central Casting department specializing in rednecks with green teeth. (I can imagine the wheels turning in their heads—“We don’t want to give ‘those types’ encouragement, do we? If we don’t fix this, we’ll never get invited to another Oscars celebration!”) Every cause has its oddballs, and I’ve known a good number both on the left and the right (actually, the left is nuttier, and smelly), but not quite like the caricatured store owner.
The resistance theme is there, but it’s pretty thin gruel. You can’t leave it to Hollyweird to play this sort of movie straight. Aspiring independent filmmakers should take note.
The premise: After a hostage situation goes dreadfully wrong, a cop is convicted of manslaughter and placed into a cryo-penitentiary where—while in deep freeze—he’s subjected to subliminal propaganda to reprogram his mind. In 2032—thirty six years later—the bad guy escapes and the cop is thawed out to deal with him. The present-day police are too inept; they haven’t had a “murder death kill” in ages.
Culture shock is a big element; everything is tranquil, but dreadfully boring. For a few examples: the oldies station just plays old commercials; sex is telepathic interactive cyber-porn; profanity is fined with robotic efficiency similar to traffic cameras; foods that are “bad for you” (including salt, meat, chocolate, and spicy foods) are illegal. Other than that, cameras everywhere monitor the citizens.
The spin: This one was quite intentionally satirical. Showing a disgustingly nice world was a big “take that” to those complaining about violent movies. It’s a brilliant send-up of nanny state political correctness run amok.
The film made its point quite effectively. It included many shout-outs to Brave New World, which everyone should read. Orwell’s 1984 depicted a future of unremitting brutality, but Huxley’s classic currently describes better where we’re headed. It’s a shallow existence of mindless hedonism with the “bread and circuses” approach to control the public. With a few advances in biotechnology, Brave New World is entirely possible.
The final take: The subversive theme is played 100% straight. Demolition Man’s society would look awesome to all the tofu-addicted, genderfluid, psych med munching crybabies graduating from collegiate Social Justice Warrior indoctrination centers every year. However, that describes merely a fraction of what they think the world should be; only scratching the surface of the SJW agenda.
Much science fiction, as well as dystopian literature, extrapolates present-day trends into the future. It often—but not always—seems dated later on. (It’s 2017; where’s my damn hovercar? I’ve had fun with this concept in my own stories.) Fifteen years from now, how much will our society resemble Demolition Man? Most people in 2002 would’ve found today’s degradation hard to imagine. If the public in 1987 knew what was in store and who was behind it, they would’ve taken decisive measures.
Accurately extrapolating trends is difficult. The current trajectory is 80% Brave New World and 20% 1984, though the “carrot to stick” ratio could reverse. Perhaps by 2032, civilization might hang by a thread. Alternatively, a massive backlash will emerge and depose the society-wrecking regressive left. Like I keep saying, the future is what we make it.