writing about my life

Violence in Sci-Fi Games and Films

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I believe I am in a good position to argue that the depiction of vile inhuman aliens in many science fiction films is fundamentally a projection of an unconscious dynamic towards race war that we as humans must seek awareness about. This is why I will continue to recommend the superb film “Contact” based on a book by Carl Sagan as true science fiction which enables us to grow and mature as sentient beings.

I’m sick of these tough guys or girls. Then again the film Avatar also achieves a brilliant reversal of the “kill all aliens” dynamic.

I started by thinking more of films, actually, but games are massive too. the director James Cameron who, it has to be accepted, is very good at what he does, though not at all artsy or highbrow, seems to have had an interesting reversal. In Aliens (1986) it is basically “GI Joe blows away nasty monsters”, then he made Titanic and had a holiday from scifi. Then he made Avatar (2009) which starts by playing with the GI Joe theme, and lulls you into a bored expectation of US military cliche, but then half way through the film it becomes clear that all the muscular GIs are actually about to despoil an entire planet, and genocide a whole alien species in order to steal their mineral wealth. The species fights back and drives the brutal earthling soldier hive off their planet.

I had a friend at Simon Langton who wrote a book called “Disconnected” subtitled “Why Our Kids are Turning Their Backs on Everything We Thought We Knew”. It is really quite serious, they all watch hard porn all the time. I thought to go to Sheppey and walk round the island as my first camping trip but two local friends both suggested that the feral life there is so hostile that camping alone would be a bad idea. Wingham woods and the North Downs Way through Chilham would be much safer, I now reckon.

I am terrified and disgusted by the Norwegian shooter who is manipulating an entire court and media to air his fascist views, with aplomb and cheek. This also seems an equal level of brutality. He is a self styled mercenary in a race war, and he has programmed himself with the kind of ethic that makes the GIs in Aliens seem heroic and also makes US troops take holiday snaps of them holding dismembered remains of suicide bombers. Sadly, (because I do like Metal) a lot of them listen to the ultra hard core bands that Paul likes. In his case he is a gentle guy so its not simple. People thought punks were nihilistic but really they were making a protest that usually comes from the Left about taboo and fossilised morality. There are other persuasions though because some ultra-Right people listen to a lot of Thrash and Death Metal. The band Slayer wrote a song called “Angel of Death” (1986) about the Nazi Josef Mengele. Many observers were unsure whether it was a protest against his evil acts or a kind of celebration of his absolute psychopathy. Similarly people of older generations may think that punks, goths, emos etc are aggressive and nasty, whereas the really nasty youth cult was the Skinhead movement which became nationalistic and reactionary, showing skins flying St Georges cross and beating up Asians telling them to go back home etc. Skinheads claimed to be patriots, the Punks were revolutionaries more.

I have lost my copy of Disconnected but I’ll re-buy it. Interestingly another pattern with the youth yobbery is that sometimes, more so than before, the gang leaders can be girls. This is new I think, unless you look back to the screaming Bacchic cultists who tore men to pieces in Greece (is that right?).

The commentator on World Service described Breivik as having “learned history from Wikipedia” with a sneering tone. This riled me because Wikipedia is an extremely high quality product and learning history from it is not necessarily a mark of amateurishness. What’s wrong with the Britannica and similar books, after all?

Yet again alone here in peace I actually had to limit my consumption of that news story on account of personal depression. Even if I don’t make it to an essay it’s been good to share with you.
I was also saddened to discover that it has been shown objectively that fetuses in the womb relax more and show greater signs of well being when exposed to classical music than to rock. (I think they monitored state of mind through serotonin levels and other vital signs)

This serves as a nagging doubt in my mind about my tastes! It seems apparent that the thumping, over-stressed drumbeat of most Rock is indeed a very martial sound that seems perhaps to promote a sense of aggression. I just can’t wean myself off it !! When I was a teenager I used to read radical comics and fanzines, and greatly enjoy splatcore horror movies. I can’t deny there was an element of reaction by choosing material that would shock the older generation. If you take my old favourite scifi comic 2000ad many of the strips were extremely violent. Only of a level that matched Film but still. It is confusing to me that intermingled with the “ultraviolence” (Anthony Burgess’s coinage) was some very astute and valid social commentary and satire, as well as a wicked line in zany humour.

So I come from a mixed and confused generation. Among my age group there are many polarisations, people like Anthony and his party-loving London crew would usually react quite adversely to anyone professing christian faith, assuming that any experimentation in that direction would imply fanaticism and probably anti-sensual puritanism too. It might be observed that for most of them the replacement experience would be the use of MDMA (Ecstacy), Coke and Booze. This was prefigured in “Brave New World” of course. Sometimes I come away thinking that the one universal taboo these days is just to possess independent thought. In Huxley Soma palliates all discomfort and dissonance, and is a scientifically designed “Opium of the People”.

For other groups the prevalent opiate seems to be TV. I don’t really understand why I became allergic to TV (I haven’t had a set in my home for nearly 10 years now). I was chatting to a friend the other day and we agreed on an optimistic thesis. This is that the news now seems so disturbing because since the internet the media simply haven’t been able to pull the wool over our eyes anymore and palliate our stresses with a comforting fairyland picture. “Up there in the echelons there are people who really “know” and they are on the case, trust us and be at peace”.

But waking up into an unfavourable situation is still waking up and you don’t blame your own increased awareness just because the news is bad. This is my final take on current events. It is echoed fantastically in The Matrix by the way. We need to know what’s real, but it ain’t gonna be easy.

So I believe in an optimistic note, which is that given full awareness Humanity still may slowly step out of its chains and prison. As I said to Arka I believe that Love is a demonstrable scientific (psychological mainly) reality, and the greatest progressive force. We must be big enough to cope with the truth, and people really are trying. I try to remember that when I see the disconnected kids and to stick with my optimism that they may know exactly what they are doing, its just that my own blinkers may be making it harder for me to realise that. I felt that way when I was their age, after all.

And I won’t blow any more aliens away with my m41a Pulse Rifle !

The intense militarism of race hatred and primal fears harnessed into warlike mentalities leads me into no richer area than to examine “The Matrix – Revolutions”, which was the third in the Matrix series and released in 2003. This film grossed approximately $500 million worldwide, and the video and download market has not closed yet. So in what the yanks would call a ball park estimate around a hundred million people paid to see this at the cinema. I think you would have to acknowledge that this means there are many more consumers of such material than any of your or Consie’s preferred movies.

The theme of absolute technologically enhanced violence continues from films like Aliens, but this time the object of the violence is a takeover by “The Machines” rather than “The Aliens”. Artificially Intelligent predatory and human hating robots.

It doesn’t really matter who the enemy is by this stage, what matters is weapon-porn and muscular stars embodying a militaristic ethic much similar to the propaganda efforts of the US to justify genocidal wars against “gooks”, Vietnamese and Cambodians such as the foul offensives that cause losses of human life significant though admittedly less by numbers than the viewers of these movies in the 60s and 70s.

Freud was at least right in correctly attributing the causes and dynamics of fantasy. In this modern movement, with films such as these and games that garner far higher numbers of enthusiastic consumers we see “Kids being revved up for war” on a grand scale. The emotions of the mass, as usual, are being agitated and manipulated grossly by an industry that doesn’t even realise anymore that it is creating unconscious propaganda for the YS war machine, redefined in this particular film not as “US interests” but as “The interests of the Human Race”, which was always their angle. “Us and Them” and the more evil and inhuman you can paint “Them” the better. The more subtle aspects of the science fictional treatment are also interesting though neglected since it is now not inconceivable that if AI arrives, it will indeed be anti-human in this way. In light of scholarly predictions about this\A0 I feel we wouldn’t really have a chance.. but of course that would not make good viewing.

The cult of the Tough Guy, the handsome hero(ine) has now spread across gender so that sexually and personally liberated beautiful women now hold at least as much value as warriors as the exclusively male heroes of former films. This is universal now (think Tomb Raider) and reminds one of wise statements by various commentators that
“If feminism was to be truly effective it should have enabled us to reach a position where men felt they should become more like women, whereas what we rather have is women becoming more like men”\A0

This might be expanded in context so that one could say that “The working class have been persuaded they should be more like the middle class” as opposed to the notion that it might have been better if the middle, aspirational, classes had learned to emulate the humility, stolid endurance and sheer mutual belonging of the working class, rather than the other way round: that they should have become petty minded, bitchy, egotistical, narcissistic hypocrites as we find the bourgeoisie to be in truth.

I digress.

No sensitivity or feminine intuition, (other than intuiting where your enemy is going to shoot next) belongs to these uber-bitches now. Man’s job is war and struggle, and woman, seeking equality, now has to excel in these virtues. Thus we see roles redefined and normatively held up for policing for Polly and Amelia’s generations.

And all this is happening where a tiny bubble of the “Old School” still advocates the reading of Jane Austen, or the viewing of very low budget art films such as Manon Des Sources, or The King’s Speech. The anachronists carry a certain charm that is backed up by intellectual depth and the wisdom of a world of liberal elites, generation upon traditionalist generation, looking deeper into the value of literature, but how many now can find their way to that bubble ? And I never expected to feel like a conservative at 41 !


Written by Luke Dunn

October 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Prose

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