(THE FIRST PART BEING A LOOSE REVIEW OF ELYSIUM)
I like to think of myself as a generally optimistic person, eager to find the silver lining in situations, to find the beauty in life, the aspects of it both mundane and epic. I try to be positive and put that out into the world.
The whole new push with this blog is an offshoot of that, resulting in writing more about life and our world, (I hope) often focusing on being a better person by looking a little more closely at the way we all interact with each other.
However, I recently wrote a post that I’m a little embarrassed by, mostly because of its pessimism and negativity towards others. It was about how much people suck and capitalism and greed and how these forces are leading us to the eventual end of society. Kind of contradictory when, here I am, thinking myself to be a shimmering example of optimism.
I told my partner about it and she warned me to be careful. Luckily, I finished it when I didn’t have access to the Internet and it sat on my computer for a few days, giving a chance for some reflection. [Insert interesting discussion on the thoughtlessness of Internet publishing, in all its forms. See: Stephentown 300]
A few days later, after not giving it a second thought, I got out of work early and decided to see Elysium, the latest from the wonderful Neill Blomkamp. While maybe not as good as District 9, his first film, it was still a great film and a deserving entry in the upper ranks of recent sci-fi films.
In its depiction of the future, the rich and powerful live in a space station where the normal plights of the human condition are absent: no hunger, disease, poverty, etc. Meanwhile Earth is overpopulated and essentially ruined. It chronicles one character’s attempt to reach the station and save himself from radiation poisoning. I had a little (SPOILER-RIDDEN) misgiving about the ending though.
At its core, the film was about classism and poverty and the fight to overcome those obstacles when one is out of options. I found it thoughtful and ultimately uplifting.
Riding my bike home through several different neighborhoods, thinking about the movie, looking at Brooklyn in a way you can’t from a subway or car, I found myself also thinking about that post and was a little overcome.
The version of Earth presented in the film was incredibly bleak, all the more so for seeming so real and possible, and that post of mine was written as if that future had already come to pass. It was pretentious and whiney and employed an idea from a philosophical novel in order to sound intelligent.
Yes, things are shitty. Yes, we are headed in the direction of Mr. Blomkamp’s envisioned future, but by no means are we quite there yet. There is still so much beauty here, in the people, the landscape, the diversity, the culture; we still have much further we can fall as a society. I was merely feeding into the kind of present that is going to result in that future.
Even if we are collectively falling off a cliff, as I implied in that other post, I think humanity still has enough gumption to produce the kind of person that would be able to construct our salvation, mid-free fall. And that’s worth remaining optimistic about.