9:31 a.m. EST, Friday, May 5. That’s when I started this post. I’d started a different post on Wednesday but tabled it for this when I realized that Elysium had, in fact, become a horror movie. How this happened was simple.
The repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
If you’ve never seen Elysium, you might want to continue to avoid it a bit longer because if you have any vestige of humanity left, it should cause you to lose sleep.
From novels like Brave New World and A Canticle For Leibowitz, to such film classics as Soylent Green, Rollerball, and A Clockwork Orange, science fiction, dystopian especially, has long been a vehicle for thinly veiled social commentary.
Science fiction has predicted and/or criticized issues surrounding overpopulation, state control, even corporate evil and greed, sometimes individually, often in combination.So too did Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 and, a few years later, Elysium. Elysium more or less came and went. I saw it. At the time, I found it a little chilling but still considered it a science fiction/action vehicle. Matt Damon after all.
Set in 2154, Earth has become overpopulated and nearly unlivably polluted. The government officials, the rich, the powerful live on a space station called Elysium where they remain blissfully disconnected from, out of touch with, and outright hostile to anyone and anything that might interfere with corporate and government interests.
Cross out “space station.” Insert “District Of Columbia.”
But that only scratches the surface of the horrifying metaphor Elysium has become.
Blomkamp borrows the term “illegals” (as well as terms like “homeland security”). In the world of the movie, illegals are the mostly the non-white poor of Earth who try to get to Elysium. Preventing this is the main antagonist, Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster). Of course it’s “De La” (of the) Court (the power structure, the administration, those in control). What the hell else would it be?
I’ll let Madame Secretary sum herself up in her own words: “I understand that it is not the fashion to think and to act as I do. I understand that perfectly. But when they come for your house, for the house you built for your children and your children’s children, it won’t be PR and campaign promises that keep them out. It will be me.”
Only I can keep them out. Them. The illegals. Cuz they’re coming for your stuff.
Blomkamp couldn’t have been more prophetic if he’d made Jodie Foster orange and given her a ludicrous comb-over, nitroglycerin-like instability, and teeny hands.
The central conflict arises when Max (Matt Damon) endures a lethal dose of radiation. The only way he can save himself is to use a Med-Bay, a machine that finds and corrects any and everything that’s wrong with you. But there’s always a catch, isn’t there? The only people with Med-Bays are, you guessed it, Elysians.
Fact is, there are countless parallels to be drawn between Elysium and what, fictional technology aside, could well become healthcare under the venal, atavistic, Draconian figures who have created what should without a doubt become known and “trumpScare.”
It’s interesting, for example, that the people on Elysium are overwhelmingly white.
It’s interesting that the people on Earth are overwhelmingly not.
Interesting that the police are nothing more than heavily weaponized droids programmed to keep the poor in line through intimidation and violence (as are the parole officers, one of which reminds Max, “It is a federal offense to abuse a parole officer”).
Interesting that Delacourt attempts to steal the presidency by making a deal with a bureaucratic thug to hack into Elysium’s system.
It’s interesting that what passes for “healthcare” on Earth often comes in the form of a diagnostic, pill-dispensing robot. Ask yourself how long it takes to get to a human being when you call your healthcare provider. Ask yourself how far down this road we’ve already come.
And finally, it’s interesting that the “leaders” on Elysium have access to all the healthcare they will ever need and how comfortable they are to let the poor die by denying any, much less universal, access to that technology.
I said earlier that if you haven’t seen Elysium, you might want to avoid it for the time being. Upon reflection, I recant that advice. See it. See it now. If you’ve seen it already, see it again. Watch closely. Pay attention. More importantly, remember it.
Remember especially on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.