Originally Published on OpEdNews
Movies create monsters so they can be killed, James Cameron says.
But sometimes we don't know that what's been created is a monster until it comes to life. What if we've been living with a monster for thousands of years?
James Cameron's new series, Story of Science Fiction, is incredible. He includes the biggest, smartest, most creative writers, directors, actors, scientists, set designers, and analysts in a wide-ranging exploration of the dimensions of science fiction. They include Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Guillermo Del Toro, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Goldblum, Ridley Scott, Zoe Saldana, Will Smith, Bruce Willis, Keanu Reaves, Christopher Lloyd, Rolland Emmerich, and so many more.
One comment that a few people repeated was that science fiction explores unexpected consequences. For example, they point out how Mary Shelly created Frankenstein after learning about the work of Galvani, where he electrified frogs and caused their legs to jump. Electricity was a new idea then. Edison was not thrilled with the idea that the energy he'd tamed was being used to create a monster.
Steven Spielberg observes to Cameron that people aren't interested in the positive results of new innovations. They're interested in the ways things go wrong.
That got me thinking about one of the biggest innovations humans ever created--civilization. We take it for granted. Many attack people or cultures who don't buy into it as uncivilized.
In my journey of exploring all the realms of bottom-up and top-down it became clear to me that civilization, with its transition to top-down ways of being, has produced some of the most horrible, monstrous unexpected developments; i.e., things that have gone wrong.
James Cameron observes, in discussing the creation of Godzilla, on his segment on monsters, "...you create a monster so you can kill it." and Guillermo Del Toro observes that monsters reflect the zeitgeist of the times.
In 2011, I watched one of the early Avengers movies, right around the time the Occupy Wall street was happening. As I was walking out of the theater I thought to myself that the hero of the movie, of virtually all movies, is one guy, one protagonist. And being immersed in Occupy, with its emphasis on bottom-up horizontalism, it came to me that we could be making movies in which the crowd, the people, humanity became the hero.
I contacted Chris Vogler, the guy who wrote the book on applying Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey concept to movie making. We had a great conversation about it.
Add that to my watching Cameron's TV series and I am wondering why we can't have movies that literally challenge civilization. And of course, we do have some. Pierre Boulle's book Planet of the Apes explored the liabilities of civilization. Cameron's Avatar brings the viewer to the point where we are rooting for the indigenous Navi and hating the human corporate tools, wanting them to be killed.
I'm sure there are many other films. I depend upon the wisdom of the crowd in the comments to help me recall and discover them.
But no matter how many have already been made, we can use a lot more. Civilization enabled humanity to stay in one place, to accumulate surpluses, to build grand cities and massive road systems, to land on the moon. But it also brought us hierarchy, domination, slavery, patriarchy, authoritarians, diversity-destroying centralization, enabling and empowerment of narcissists and psychopaths, world wars, environmental destruction, and mass murders of millions.