Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Seavey on Sci-Fi Politics, RoboCop, More

I wrote a couple months ago for about why I think so much sci-fi leans socialist (and I notice author J. Neil Schulman weighed in in the comments, if you can see the Disqus thread below the article, to complain that I referred to a movie based on his work as “low-budget,” but I didn’t mean it as an insult). 

Speaking of “Federalist” things: you can all complain to me in person about that piece or others if you join me at the NYU Federalist Society (40 Washginton Square South in Vanderbilt Hall #220) one week from today to see libertarian (and new-minted Washington Post blogger) Eugene Volokh debate Richard Aborn on gun control.

But here are 10 more sci-fi(-ish) notes, which is the important thing:

1. Given how devoted the original RoboCop movies were to bashing consumerism and capitalism (ironic, given that the two sequels were written by comics’ Frank Miller, who later did a post-9/11 political 180 and turned into a sort of Ayn Rand-influenced conservative), I was pleased the new version (A) was instead mostly about bashing police and military corruption and (B) was far more psychologically nuanced (and relevant-seeming, given the reality of current drone and A.I. research) than the original. Overall, arguably a better movie -- but it lacks the original’s trashy, postmodern humor, so it isn’t ultimately as lovable or iconic.

2. This is going to be one very, very popular Dungeons & Dragons audio book, read by Ice-T.

3. Despite the fact that I somehow have a communist friend who thinks Orwell was warning us about conservatives, Orwell wrote this letter (h/t Judith Weiss) that was pretty explicit about his fears for post-WWII socialist totalitarianism and political correctness (even though he remained a socialist/anarchist).

4. The indie film From the Future with Love (h/t Andrew Stover) mocks privatized police, but life’s too short for political self-abuse, so instead of watching it in its entirety, I will ask the contrary question: Gee, can you imagine if we instead lived in a nightmare world where government cops did a bad job?

Admittedly, though, some see a low-consequence failure of private policing in a popular interactive online sci-fi game (h/t Jacob Levy).  Well, I say low-consequence, but it’s apparently sparked the largest space battle of all time.

5. Family-related law is weirder than sci-fi.  Take this bizarre case (h/t Tom Palmer) of a woman who learned her children are technically her twin’s biological children and almost had them taken away as a result.  Or this reminder, in the form of a nine-year-old suddenly taken from the only parents she’s ever known and given to a just-released ex-convict in another state, that the government is utterly devoid of compassion, despite what its willing thralls, the intelligentsia, tell you (h/t Justin Stoddard and Stephan Kinsella).  And then there are the fetuses to worry about (h/t Luca Gattoni-Celli).  And let’s not even get started on the whole back-and-forth Woody Allen thing.

6. Given DC Comics’ recurring attempts in recent years to make the sentient surveillance system Brother Eye and his OMAC robots important villains -- and rumors of the evil android Metallo in the Batman vs. Superman movie -- I think it’s safe to say there’s a method to the seeming madness of casting a guy who played Mark Zuckerberg in the role of Lex Luthor and to the rumored depiction of Bruce Wayne (as played by Ben Affleck) as a UN-affiliated recluse who now fights crime with drones from his Batcave (though I sympathize with those who wanted Bryan Cranston to be Luthor, such as Franklin Harris, who declared: we wanted HEISENBERG, not Zuckerberg!). 

The whole thing is starting to make as much techno-relevant sense to me as, well, RoboCop...or Rand Paul campaigning against Hillary and drones in 2016...or Paul Bettany playing the Vision instead of just the voice of JARVIS in next year’s Avengers sequel.

7. Meanwhile, speaking of spooky recluses, Alan Moore will do the voice of an A.I. in the new Robert Anton Wilson-based play Cosmic Trigger (a sequel of sorts to the play Illuminatus! which led to the formation of the band KLF, of whom I blogged earlier).

8. It may not be A.I., but they’ll apparently do some CGI-or-something to depict the last onscreen bit of Plutarch Heavensbee in next year’s fourth-and-final Hunger Games movie, since they were still filming the two-part Mockingjay (though with only seven days of shooting left) when Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away.

9. Most people were watching the Super Bowl that day, but I don’t follow sports and will do so only when they work like this (and yes, the music is essential).

10. I’d be more tempted to see how the final two stupid teams fare on this Friday’s bound-to-disappoint 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty -- but really, shouldn’t imaginary lifeforms be at least as weird as, say, jellyfish, instead of the tepid near-humanoid stuff we get from folklore and Star Trek: The Next Generation?  In a way, this Onion piece is better sci-fi than most actual sci-fi is.

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