Saturday, January 06, 2007

Children of Men

Children of Men is dystopic view of the world eighteen years after the end of human fertility. It is a story about the journey of a mother, Kee, and child to safety and the hero, Theo, who helps. Their journey is across a Britain reshaped by demographic collapse and mass migration.

The story begins with the youngest person in the world dying in Argentina. Our hero Theo enters a coffee shop filled with sad, shocked patrons and goes outside to Irish up his coffee, cafe explodes. He goes to his office filled with crying white collar workers, takes the rest day off, pleading emotional distress goes a visits a hippie friend in the woods. The next day on his commute to work Theo is abducted by terrorists, The Fishes, who want to talk and a favor. So begins a not very happy time.

Terrorists or freedom fighters are those types who see a virtue in direct action, armed struggle or other political motivated murder. The Fishes in the film is group that is for the rights and privileges of illegal immigrants. That is there avowed aim, that that and power. Eventually the Fishes get more and more direct with their action until they are fighting with the army.

One of the themes in the movie is the evil of immigration control. There are many people who rail against the injustice of not letting people having free movement to go anywhere and to settle anywhere they want. The same type people were also against colonialism when imperialistic powers went where they wanted and settled where they wanted with no control from the local governments. It is not a crime to stop people from entering another country. It is a crime to stop people from leaving. During the recent civil war in Somalia Yemen fired on and sank refugee ships trying to land in their country. This is extreme but not unwarranted.

The techniques and practices of law enforcement especially immigration law enforcement is put in the worst possible light. The level of police brutality is almost at a Judge Dredd level. Suspects are rounded up and placed in cages until moved to badly organized prison districts. The one cop that is humanized is also a corrupt dope dealer. As a side note this points out the problem of being a corrupt cop on your lonesome. Who are going to call if you get into trouble? If you are going to be corrupt you also need a gang for protection and backup. Historically the time times when police corruption is at its worst are when the corruption is systematically organized, see Frank Serpico.

There is a book by Brian Aldiss, Greybeard, that also covered the topic of demographic collapse. In Greybeard the story starts 50 years after the last generation was born. It depicted a society even more warped than the one in Children of Men. There was real depopulation and deindustrialization as people were unable to engage in farming or manufacturing into their 80's. The hero/title character in Greybeard is part of the last generation. In the book the character spends his time looking after his infirm elderly parents and relatives. But not one will look after him. There is still some hope for the world of Children of Men.

At one time futurism was optimism about technological possibilities. After seeing the improvements that aeronautics and radios made to people's lives many could hope for technology fixes for nearly everything. An airplane in every garage/hangar, robot butlers, cities on the moon were all reasonable expectations. Now the only technological improvement/change we can look forward to is better electronics and higher energy prices. Cheaper memory, faster chips, cool new electronic gadgets but no warp drive or other Star Trek tech that everyone from Hugo Gernsback has been telling us to expect.

No comments: