What Kind of Film is Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium

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Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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52 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak
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    The hollywood belief is that any new idea or slightly risky move always determines everything about that idea or move for the future. Anything new is under the microscope and will be ditched as fast as possible if it doesn’t kick butt. There are reasons why most movies are so similar, the biggest of which is its safer to just keep doing the same thing over and over. Execs don’t get fired for pumping out the 59th Die Hard clone since its an accepted formula so it must be a good idea.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to greginak
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      There was a comment in a book by William Shatner about the making of the first Star Trek movie, that the execs wanted to abandon the idea after Star Wars came out, because they thought that the (hit picture) SF market was saturated for the next several years. Because, you know, there was one already.

      And as greginak said, pumping out unoriginal #blahblahblah is OK, and if they flop, it’s not the fault of the genre. Or the known star.Report

  2. Avatar greginak
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    Oh yeah. I hadn’t realized this was the plot of the movie. I’ve only seen the trailer while waiting impatiently for Pacific Rim to start. I guess we can assume the Fox news/Rush crowd will be in mega pantie bundling mode when this comes out. So free publicity.Report

  3. Avatar NewDealer
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    “Mordecai Wiczyk of Media Rights Capital thinks that Elysium has an insurance policy to help boost ticket sales despite its disadvantages (including an R rating, no 3D version, etcetera)”

    Begin art-house fan lament:

    It makes me sad that you need a 3D version to get ticket sales. I love going to movies but a lot of people seem to think it is not worth it unless the movie is super-big on spectacle. Whatever happened to movies (and theatre) as a social experience?

    /End Art-House Fan Lament.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer
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      3D is super annoying, I agree.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer
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      Hasn’t theatre always been big on spectacle? When going to theatre was more common, people weren’t going to artistically innovative plays. They were going to true and tried crowd pleasers like Sheakespeare, vaudville, melodramas that had as much spectacle as possible in theatre, and musicals. When something artistic became a big hit, it was because people thought it was a crowd pleaser like the Three Penny Opera. The same goes with movies, the big movies were always the crowd pleasers even if they were empty of spectacle. Still, spectacle in the movies is as old as the movies themselves.Report

  4. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
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    Considering that a lot of SciFi is all about taking a handful of current trends & running with them to the extreme to setup the environment the given conflict will occur in, I don’t see how that will turn off people who like SciFi. It’s very common to build a world of extremism, so a world where the wealthy have retreated to an unreachable haven from the unwashed masses is no big stretch, and unless the lack of healthcare is pounded into the audience (rather than a plot device to setup the conflict), it won’t matter much.

    As always, the story matters a lot more.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko
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    I think the movie looks pretty good as both a sci-fi action flick and as a political argument. I’m very much looking forward to it.

    And I wouldn’t have accused District Nine “feeling politically salient without being overly forceful about it’s commentary.” District Nine was overtly and obviously political; its allegory was no better hidden than was Star Trek: TOS’s Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Burt Likko
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      Good as a political argument? It sounds pretty insipid to me. If this were coming from the left-wing cheer squad, I’d just roll my eyes and move on. But since it’s you, I feel like I might be missing something.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Brandon Berg
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        I’m talking about District Nine, which eloquently if graphically made the very adventurous and far-left political argument that apartheid was morally wrong. I haven’t seen Elysium yet so I’m not sure if the only argument it’s going to make is only rich people having healthcare is morally wrong or if there’s going to be something maybe a bit more sophisticated about class stratification. All the same, the movie looks pretty good to me.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg
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        Ah, got it. I haven’t seen District 9, but since the left is on much firmer ground when it comes to apartheid than when it comes to economic inequality, I can see it being reasonably intelligent. But it sounds very much as though this one is going to be based on a villains-and-victims model of inequality, and an extrapolation of a trend that isn’t even happening now (global inequality is decreasing). The director giving a nod to OWS is a huge red flag.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Brandon Berg
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        Off on a bit of a tangent: District 9 had all the subtlety of a freight train. It would have been more interesting had they created villains that we might have seen something of ourselves in. Instead, they were so dastardly that we were pretty much conditioned to hate them. I mean, I don’t think that they should have been sympathetic – or that they were perpetrators of evil overlooked or softened – but a good story on race (or segregation, in this case) would have us seeing ourselves in “the bad guys” if only so that we might evaluate our own behavior. Rather than just hating people who obviously exist to be hated.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Brandon Berg
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        District 9‘s political content didn’t bother me at all, but I didn’t think it was anywhere near a good movie, with its video-game-like plotting and MacGuffining.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Brandon Berg
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        Here is my complete review of District 9. I probably would have liked it more had it not been referred to as deep, thought-provoking, and/or socially relevant.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg
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        Curiously, while attempting to expose the evil of apartheid and, more broadly, racism, the film was considered offensive by many Nigerians for how they were portrayed.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Brandon Berg
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        Will,
        speak for yourself. If anything, they made the CEO more human than most multinational corps (I say this knowing someone who’s worked for quite a few.)Report

  6. Avatar NotMe
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    I would include having Matt Damon as a cast member to one disadvantage.Report

  7. Avatar George Turner
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    I like movies with political overtones, but I don’t care much for movies with trite and juvenile political overtones, which unfortunately is what Hollywood usually turns out. Avatar, though visually stunning, was a train wreck when you thought about the idiotic plot. District 9 worked because it was a nice comment on Apartheid and government double-speak.

    So many franchises use “Evil Corp” as their protagonist that it’s a comic book plot. They don’t even note that the sole customer for almost all weapon systems ever developed is a government, and that just about every serious weapon is a response to a government request for proposal. The requirements for the weapons systems are conceived in Washington, and many of the contracts are awarded by anti-war Congressmen as long as the doomsday weapon gets built in their district.

    So, setting all that aside, in this movie the rich people are hoarding all the health-care, somehow. I guess they’re supposedly having three or four liver transplants a year and demanding fifty flu vaccinations a week just because they’re greedy. Hollywood types are like that, always having unnecessary amputations and colectomies, which is why when you want to get one, the colectomy store is all sold out.

    This is a plot? A worldview circulating in Hollywood? What will they think of next?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to George Turner
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      I guess this isn’t the place to indicate that I found The East to be a morally and politically challenging movie despite its heavy-handed presumption that all big corporations necessarily only profit by hurting ordinary people and lying about it.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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      I’ll have to keep an eye out for that one. It sounds pretty good.

      What I find mildly disappointing is that there lots of good social-issue plot lines from space colonization, but health care isn’t one of them. Rich people tend not to be as sick as poor people (fewer injuries, better overall health aside from stress related issues). Obviously when they are sick they can pay for expensive treatments, and often it’s the high-end, over-billed procedures that cover a lot of the losses hospitals suffer treating poor people.

      One British researcher got curious about how poor British paid for health care prior to the NHS. What he found, surprisingly, is that they often didn’t pay anything at all. Health care was free for them, without so much as a payroll tax. Doctors and wealthy people had long accepted that the doctor would charge rich people extra to cover the cost of free services for those who couldn’t pay, and who could and couldn’t pay was up to the doctor’s judgment. What the British did in the name of equality and fairness was figure out how to bill the poor. Currently the US is trying to figure out how to make young, poor, healthy people who don’t need health insurance subsidize the costs for everybody else.

      Anyway, in the movie’s hypothetical future, are the people on Earth, sitting around with 3-D printers, the Internet, with a hospital every few blocks and medical and nursing schools everywhere, simply too dumb to figure out how to provide their own health care? Even third world countries train doctors and nurses, and often make their own pharmaceuticals (Clinton famously bombed an aspirin factory in Africa). The US has a very high quality health care system, and it’s not because we stole it from Mexicans or starving Africans.

      And then there’s the question of what diseases the space folks would have, which you think would be an element of a good space colony story. Let’s see. They won’t have malaria because they’re not going to send mosquitoes up. In fact they won’t have any insect borne diseases. They probably won’t even have active cases of hepatitis or a thousand other maladies because they can screen for them before launch. They might not even have colds or flu. They also won’t be having car accidents or a lot of the other common ER issues. Their health care utilization will be low, very low, except for treating congenital issues, age related issues, cancer, heart disease, and perhaps diabetes.

      Perhaps a better plot would be band a terrorists who clandestinely slip a host of viruses, bacteria, and crop diseases into a space population whose immunities have been allowed to languish. The other day I thought it would be amusing if some fleas escaped from an experiment on the ISS. With cargo flights spaced many months apart, there’s no way they could get any kind of flea spray deployed quickly, and they might even have long debates about whether they could apply any such chemicals at all. So that leaves vacuuming or crushing them by hand, perhaps hiding in their space suits to sleep.

      So, so many potential plots, and they picked one that a third grader would’ve suggested.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner
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        What he found, surprisingly, is that they often didn’t pay anything at all.

        Citation, please.

        Alsotoo, didn’t doctor’s pay something in this scenario, by treating people for “free”?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to George Turner
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        Still, he’s probably thinking of this:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Insurance_Act_1911

        Charity was common, but it wasn’t nearly enough.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        No, not that, the unwritten code that doctor’s used to go by before everyone had to fill out tons of paperwork. Patients that could pay, paid, and those that couldn’t didn’t have to, or just paid as they can, unless some major hospital was involved. It was part of what it meant to practice medicine back in the old days, and why so many kids got named after small town doctors. My dad had to have an emergency appendectomy and had to spend a week in bed at the doctor’s house. As I understand it, they paid the doctor with chickens – and my dad volunteering to work on Herbert Hoover’s campaign.

        Charity did not start with a government program.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner
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        Its actually nice to see George finally letting us in on the super secret Repub health plan they are working on. If only they had told us chickens and charity were the solution the R’s would be golden now.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to George Turner
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        Yeah, you should read up on the history of that law, then. I think you, or your researcher, have a mistaken impression of the extent of the coverage of charity care.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        Well, aside from the other studies, that also comes from a study of charity in the American colonies and the early US.

        It’s true that if a Democrat saw that his impoverished neighbor’s child was dying from some curable ailment, he wouldn’t lift a finger to help and would suggest that a government program a hundred years in the future would prevent such tragedies, but Republicans took a more hands on approach. They would go ahead and spend an hour stitching up the wound and not even charge for the 5 cents of thread.

        There. That’s just how it is.

        You see, when a doctor doesn’t have to answer to a staff, and when the tools of his trade are scalpels, needles, and soap (instead of multi-million dollar MRI’s, labs, and the thousand other very expensive things we’ve invented), he could pack his equipment in a little black bag and visit patients at home, and the only real cost he had was his time.

        Would you spend an hour of your time, as a doctor, to heal some child’s grievous injury even though his family couldn’t at the moment come up with an hour’s worth of wages for you (and even though you lived down the street)?

        Imagine you’re a Republican if that helps get you into the alternate reality where charity was real.

        Now, imagine what would happen to your reputation and your medical practice if you didn’t save the child, didn’t even try, because the father didn’t get paid until Thursday and you demanded the few coins up front. Why, you’d have to find a new town in a new state to restart your practice, assuming you still had a license. So you go ahead and treat the child, or any adult as long as it’s not some ongoing issue with drunkenness or other issue where your townsfolk would rather you let the worthless wretch proceed on to his great reward.

        Everyone in town knows you save children, old folks, injured people, and deliver babies like that, and they make sure you’ll not be out of pocket, both because they don’t want to lose such a fine doctor themselves, and because to them, giving a little extra to the doctor is charity, plus it might win them some extra favor when they’re having another one of their spells.

        Nowadays when a hospital treats you, a big bill comes, and if you don’t pay it they send out the collection agencies. Back then, what was the doctor to do, hire a local mobster to break the mom’s kneecaps? He couldn’t do much of anything because he was a doctor, and doctors don’t have their patients beat up in an alley. But the doctor could also apply a lot of tremendous social pressure around town on those who could pay but were just being difficult.

        You might think liberals would find such a system ideal, even utopian, but you’d be wrong. Any system where a doctor is on a first name basis with all his patients is simply unacceptable. They must be patient 0432-23288/1 or else they’re not getting proper health care.

        That’s how most medicine used to work, and that’s why poor people didn’t have to have health insurance (and health insurance didn’t even exist back then). In fact, that was pretty much the whole theme of “Northern Exposure.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to George Turner
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        Yeah, in the U.S. the coverage was also insufficient (perhaps more so because of the lower population density). I’m sure the “studies” you’ve read noted this. Again, I suggest looking up the history (the from ’08 to ’11) of the 1911 law.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner
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        George, please from your fingers to the R leaderships eyes. Please, please loudly and proudly offer to base our health care system on studies of the 13 colonies. Andy Kaufman at his craziest, which was pretty far out there, couldn’t generate the kind painful embarrassment at watching someone fail and shear gob smacked tension of knowing every second is just going to get weirder and weirder. I mean WWF on meth weird. Please send your rant, after cleaning the spittle and creamed corn off, to Bohner, Ryan and Cruz.

        Northern Exposure….oh please… a tv show??? NE is not well regarded in Ak.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner
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        Imagine you’re a Republican if that helps get you into the alternate reality where charity was real.

        Hey, that’s fun!Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        Chris, but look at the reason for the 1911 law. The British King did it because he was jealous of the Kaiser. It didn’t come from the poor patients, the rich patients, or the doctors. As we all know, monarchies always have concern for the poor at heart.

        Do you really think two of the most powerful monarchs on Earth actually had any idea what happened between poor people and their doctors? Any at all? Do you think any of the English Lords or any sizable fraction of Parliament did?

        It’s true that perhaps German doctors were getting a bit picky about poor patients, but then they were the primary force talking up Hitler’s racial hygiene idea because they were pissed off at losing patients to Jewish doctors, and Lord knows that Germans can be anal about having everything stamped and approved by various government organs.

        But where doctors are committed to their patients, all their patients, and have the professional freedom that medicine traditionally entailed, they find a way to wink, bend things, and make it happen.

        The problem was growth, organization, and bureaucracy, whose first effects are to try and streamline and rationalize the decision making, control costs, do more with less, manage time better, blah blah blah. We all know how it goes. A country doctor’s sloppy, informal ways just won’t cut it for a modern, bustling city like Liverpool or London. There are scientific management methods that will bring order to chaos. And then you just keep adding layers of management, accountability, responsibility, and record keeping.

        It’s an inevitable outcome, but we shouldn’t likewise pretend that in its absence people didn’t actually get any health care.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        @greginak,

        Yet what does Elysium likely tell us?

        We have a planet of poor people who, despite all the vast technological advancements (like 3-D printing, designer drugs, and a million other breakthroughs), can’t provide basic health care. Yet we know that even in a social breakdown, doctors and patients find each other and health care gets delivered. They will then self-organize, and form clinics and hospitals. Then they’ll form insurance companies. In fact, that’s how we got the health care system we have.

        The only thing that can stop that from happening is government, by making it illegal for doctors to take private money, or require government approval for procedures, etc.

        If the Earth in Elysium didn’t have health care, it’s probably because they had a descendant of Obamacare.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner
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        @george-turner Well since the movie hasn’t even come out and all i , and i guess you, know about it is from the comments here, it can’t tell us anything about anything. When i comes out it might make a conversation piece.

        As for whatever else you said, stick with the chickens and chartiy plan for everybody else. I’m sure you have health insurance for you and yours.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to George Turner
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        If you think the king did it, and out of jealousy, then you know even less about pre-1948 England than I thought, which is saying something.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner
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        It’s always the same with you, George. Elysium and every entry in this genre of story is the wretched retelling of the story of doomed Achilles who found himself on the wrong side of a fight. Only this time, it’s some Everyman type who gets Enhanced and Upgraded and Godlike with Special Armour.

        Thing is, Hollywood doesn’t know how to tell a genuine Hero Story any more. The Hero always wins in Hollywood’s version of events. This isn’t about politics or healthcare. It’s about winning and losing, fighting and dying — and though I haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s completely obvious how this one is gonna pan out. The war for Troy was just a proxy war between the gods and for all Hephaestos’ skill, all that fancy armour wouldn’t save Achilles. The fix was in.

        And the fix is in for this turkey, Elysium.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to George Turner
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      Shorter George:

      Movies I agree with=Political overtones

      Movies I disagree with or that challenge my worldview=Trite and juvenile political overtones.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to NewDealer
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        Longer version:

        How can a movie challenge my worldview by presenting the worldview I abandoned when I was about twelve because it was childish and simplistic?

        For example, do you really think there’s anyone out there who is challenged by the idea that maybe the demented people in Megacorp’s bio-weapon’s division who intend to unleash a plague of face-hugging aliens on the world’s population are not, in fact, nice people. What’s the target “challenge” audience for a plot like that, three six-year olds with Aspergers? Scripts like that probably even have “REVEAL” in big capital letters, as if Americans would be shocked to think that maybe the cartoon bad guys working for EvilCo are bad guys, and then go home and rethink everything they knew about Dave Thomas at Wendy’s.

        There was an interesting recent psychological study (done by liberals, of course, since almost all psychologists are liberals), which found that conservatives could think like liberals and correctly replicate their moral arguments and reasoning process, but liberals could not do the reverse. This of course horrified the researchers, who were expecting the opposite.

        Upon digging, they realized that conservatives had the entire panoply of liberal morality built right in, and could use it the same as liberals, but that they also had other more sophisticated moral reasoning added on, things like secondary and tertiary effects, broader societal effects, and whether the simpler liberal solutions carried a heavy potential for abuses, scams, exploitation, chaos, and whatnot.

        In contrast, when liberals tried to guess at conservative positions or replicate conservative’s reasoning, they failed miserably, actually believing the cheap conservative caricatures were somehow real. “Well, a conservative is a racist, so they’ll reason this way. A conservative is greedy, so they’ll do that. A conservative doesn’t care about other people, so they’ll do this…”

        This is probably why conservatives on the Internet don’t have the slightest problem debating liberals. A lot of them could just write in the other side’s best arguments, improve them, then refute them, and just save liberals the trouble of all that clickety typing. But that just wouldn’t be as much fun. When liberals try that it looks like Romper Room and all the conservatives immediately suspect that their new “fellow” is either an idiot, a liberal, or a master of parody.

        This is not to say that conservatives are smarter, just that they are generally in full possession of the liberal thought process as standard equipment, but have lots of new subroutines sitting on top of the basics handling things like unintended consequences, the knowledge of how nasty and vicious people really are inside much of the time, though we suppress it, and long experience at watching people make the same mistakes over and over again.

        However, keep in mind that the study was of college students, and even liberals make fun of liberal college students. Older liberals are surely not so naive or deluded about the nature of conservatives, but the iffy part is whether many of them become even more convinced that their silly college caricature’s were correct.

        How does this apply to script writing and movies?

        If confirms what many have long suspected. Conservatives can write three dimensional, well developed liberal characters, and even write nothing but if that’s the market. But when liberals try to write conservative characters the result is often a two dimensional caricature, the same ones used by liberal college kids (and high school and junior high kids), and the conservative audience sees right through it and ignores the silliness because after all, the movie is about a man with shaved armpits wearing tights and a cape. The liberal audience is probably thinking it’s somehow telling a profound truth.

        Half the audience walks out wondering why Hollywood writers suck, and the other half walks out having all their lifelong misperceptions happily confirmed. The liberal audience was not challenged, and the first was at most mildly amused by what they would perceive as childish writing, because it presents a worldview they haven’t had since they were children, if even then.

        When those liberal political caricatures leak through, it’s a clear sign of sloppy writing. Even a liberal (and Hollywood is full of them), when they’re trying to put out good work, won’t rely on such caricatures and will try to get a real understanding of each character, the motivations, the perspective, and work from there to flesh it out.

        And sometimes you’ll have a bad conservative writer who who lets their own caricature’s bleed all over the page (Ayn Rand, *cough*).

        But when you see a plot and a premise like Elysium, it’s a good bet you’ll be treated to some two-dimensional cardboard conservative villains whose motivations don’t make a lick of logical sense. But if enough stuff gets blowed up real good, conservatives will go anyway because it’s all just fun.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer
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        Georgy,
        Conservatives don’t even know their own fucking arguments.
        And I say that in all due and grave seriousness.
        All this anti-abortion crap is just folks trying to increase the
        number of kids born to ’em, come hell or high water.

        Of course, enough conservatives don’t understand women
        as anything more than trophies or “status symbols”…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer
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        Kim, I would say that there are conservatives who are mere reactions to liberal arguments “Oh, Bush is doing something? It’s good! Oh, Obama is doing something? It’s bad!” and, sure, people who are like that deserve to be mocked… but, sadly, those people don’t really come here.

        The conservatives who *DO* come here? I reckon they know their own arguments. Given that they’re mostly out of power, I reckon that they’re more than happy to give argument from principle (except for the parts related to the power they do have at which point I’m sure the arguments take more of a pragmatic flavor).

        In any case, when it comes to splody summer movies? I think betting on the side of “lack of nuance” has better long-term odds despite the number of “but what about this movie from 1995?” kinda films you could point out.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
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        I’m curious, George, why does painting BigCorpX as evil necessarily make it a conservative bad guy? Do you say this because liberals see BigCorp as bogeyman? Or because conservatives tend to identify with BigCorp and attacks on the latter are interpreted as attacks on the former?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer
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        I would argue that the persistent use of BigCorpX as the bad guys is, while not necessarily “targeting conservatives”, playing nicely within liberal narratives. (Of course, part of the problem is that they make such good villains, much of the time.)Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
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        This is where I get mixed up with the narratives. I won’t deny that opposed BigCorpX is a general liberal trope. It is not one I adhere to (bad liberal!), at least not reflexively, but I recognize it is more or less part of the liberal canon.

        But does that necessarily say anything about conservatives? If so, why?

        And maybe I’m bad at getting brainwashed or something, but when I see a movie make BigCorpX the bad guy, it doesn’t really impact how I think about big corporations in general. I mean, I’m sure there are ways it permeates the psyche on a more subconscious level. But I don’t walk around thinking, “The big corp in Aliens did some evil things. I should be careful next time I’m at WalMart. I don’t want a face sucker to attack me or anything.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer
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        (Of course, part of the problem is that they make such good villains, much of the time.)

        They have less powerful lobbies.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner
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      says:

      $200 fee to own a tank these days.
      Well, you have to buy a tank too, and get the sheriff to sign off on “no he’s not crazy”.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy
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    Fwiw, my initial sense was that the film was more about immigration than health care. Damon’s people don’t just not have health care, they’re seemingly barred from even being where the “good life” is. I know he makes a point of mentioning the medicine in the commercial, but it is on a list among other things. That as my first read at least. I don’t know if the idea that it s about health care is confirmed by anyone involved in the movie or just fan speculation.Report

  9. Avatar Michael Drew
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    Not knowing anything more about the movie than I I’ve read here, it sounds to me like the closest recent precedent for its kind of politics in big-budget film would be The Hunger Games. Of course the key phrase there is, “Not knowing anything more about the movie than I I’ve read here,” which wasn’t the case for The Hunger Games, even for someone like me, who wasn’t at all invested in the books nor the fact that they were made into a movie series, but who found himself surrounded by people who were. In the case of Elysium, as in the recent case of Pacific Rim, instead I’ve found myself suddenly encountering discussions about what the meaning of possible failure or success at the box office would be for movies opening that week of whose existence I had absolutely no previous inkling.

    Which is to say that with the economics of movie marketing changing around us so quickly, it’s probably a mistake to look to the nuances of how politics are embedded in storytelling within films themselves as drivers of success or failure at the box office.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Drew
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      The Hunger Games underwhelmed me. I was a thrity-two year old man when I saw it, so I’m not the target audience, but enough people who weren’t the target audience liked it so I gave it a try. Its a basic dystopian future story with a dash of Greco-Roman civilization and mythology thrown in. How on earth is this revolutionary?Report

  10. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Does everything need to be sugar-coated with a science fiction gloss these days? In the past we could have overtly political movies that were more realistic in terms of antagonists, protagnoists, plots, and situations. They did not need fancy, special effects.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      Honestly? Yes. Overtly political movies that are more realistic would also be rated X, if not higher.
      Hell, even making a decent movie about Spitzer would deserve at least an R.Report

  11. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
    Ignored
    says:

    I ran across this today, and I think it is very much something worth reading.

    The Visual Intelligence of Pacific Rim

    It’s amazing to me how much I missed when I saw Pacific Rim. I knew the visuals were important, but now I want to watch it again & take it apart, scene by scene, to see what I missed.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
      Ignored
      says:

      Good link MRS. Interesting stuff about the visuals in PR. I wish i picked up more of that stuff on my own but i rarely have the patience or desire to do so. Good analysis of the visuals is often really interesting at least in movies that have stuff worth looking at.Report

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