On Saturday I watched a movie with a novel plot; aliens were driven off by the “genius” of one man fifty years ago, and the planet has been preparing for a second invasion ever since.
The movie didn’t stop there, as I am guessing the book didn’t. It had plenty of commentary to make on the human species. It started with privacy. Not one character questioned their lack of it, and I found it terrifying that the adults never thought twice about it. Fifty years of convincing the population of an imminent threat that forces us to take such extreme measures? Unbelievable. And this “Big Brother” attitude was a factor not only in the children’s audio-visual monitoring but in their accommodations as well. Children were asked to bunk with children of the opposite sex without any expression of sexuality; to be asked to submerge one’s sexual identity through adolescence seems like its own kind of cruelty.
Another thing, and again I found it haunting, was the cold reasoning behind why the children were being trained in a military setting. The best and the brightest were to be sent to a faraway planet where they would fight, and as it turned out destroy, an entire species. Can any of us imagine the emotional impact that would have on a child? And yet, again, no one questioned it. The rationale was that a young mind is more adaptive to new technology and therefore has to lead – even with the evidence of their success against previous invasion with adults standing against that argument.
Our thinking on the aliens in the movie was also telling. We learn that they cannot speak, so we assume they cannot communicate? How idiotic! They attacked our planet once and never looked in our direction again. But fifty years later our species is entirely convinced that a second attack is still imminent. The fact that they never attempted to retake their launching platform planet is conveniently forgotten. They are an insect species, with a queen. It makes more sense to believe they could have made a second invasion within years had they wanted. That Orson Scott Card has our species conveniently unable to take what we know about them to understand their species better struck me as true; that instead we assign them hostile intentions (projecting our own motivations onto them?) was the strongest statement of the movie.
There were some positives about our race to be found in the movie. For one the educational system was designed for outstanding students; it was adaptive to an extreme and I saw several examples where the teachers were every bit as adaptive as the system. An underlying fact is that the world has united politically and in their weapons development. These things speak highly of our potential for peace. It is unfortunate that we are only capable of this when we are convinced that our survival depends on it. I find myself curious as to how Mr. Card foresees the human race responding to the cessation of that threat.
Now I am no expert on special effects, but neither did those here blow me away. Nor was the acting outstanding. This was science fiction, and I got the best I could have hoped for out of it. No amazing looking monsters, no rosey future, no universe a person could create thousands of unique species and stories for, it was just real. I hope I see more media like it. All good science fiction is a commentary on humanity in one form or another and this movie represented.