Sunday, August 3, 2014

Science fiction speaks to our current anxieties


I began Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Ebola outbreak) on Daily Kos with the stories that I used in Ebola outbreak now a top story.  Now to present the link and excerpt from a New York Times essay I used to end the diary, which does as good a job as any of explaining the serious purpose behind my Sunday collapse-and-decline entertainment entries:* Science Fiction Reflects Our Anxieties.
J. P. Telotte is a professor of film and media studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the author, most recently, of "Science Fiction TV."

The 1930s saw numerous science fiction films centered around apocalyptic, sometimes climatic, destruction: “La Fin du Monde” (France, 1931) predicted a comet’s collision with the Earth; “Deluge” (United States, 1933) was the story of a giant tsunami resulting in a worldwide flood; “Things to Come” (England, 1936) predicted world war and a civilization-destroying plague; “S.O.S. Tidal Wave” (United States, 1939) showed the destruction of America’s East Coast by massive tidal wave.

All these films were not as much forward-looking predictions of real apocalypse as they were metaphorical responses to the widespread economic and political crises of the day. Floods and plagues became stand-ins for contemporary upheaval, in this case a way to address the anxieties that attended the Great Depression and post-World War I shock.

This is what our genre films tend to do best — not detail the realities of specific problems so that we might avoid them, but rather represent our most pressing cultural anxieties.
Follow over the jump for another quote from the essay and examples of how I've explored the same themes.

Telotte could be paraphrasing what I wrote about the James Bond movies as science fiction.
As for why James Bond would be on topic for this blog, consider the following two ideas.

First, this blog is about science fiction as much as it is about collapse.  In that vein, the James Bond movies, even more so than the books, qualify, as they are really science fiction films set 20 minutes into the future.  As science fiction, the films both celebrate the latest technology and explore in a very escapist fashion a current technological, scientific, or even environmental issue that is a source of societal anxiety.  Keeping that ambivalence in mind while watching a Bond film makes it a more intellectually interesting experience, at least for me.  See if it works for you, too.

Second, Bond has averted the near total extinction of humanity at least twice, as well as defused other situations that could have resulted in World War III several other times.  Because of these 'good deeds,' he qualifies as an honorary Crazy Eddie.  That alone makes the films worthy of discussion.
Telotte hits my second point, too.
While science fiction films and novels often, and quite naturally, raise awareness of — or stimulate discussion about — scientific and technological issues including climate change, they seldom function as primers for the solutions we need for these very knotty problems. More often, they make us feel better about our ability to survive them.
007 saves the day, so there is hope!

Telotte focused on climate change in his essay, even mentioning "Snowpiercer," the subject of last Sunday's entertainment-themed entry. I wonder what he'd have to say about our fascination with zombies?  It would be interesting, but I would be pleasantly surprised if it extended much beyond the themes explored by The Archdruid and his readers in The Archdruid and his readers on zombies and More from the Archdruid and his readers on zombies, part 1 or even Discovery News on World War Z--fears of civil disorder and pandemic.  With that, I've come full circle to where I began this entry, talking about a potential pandemic.

*The not-so-serious reason is that they're fun to write and it's a way of staying on-topic when I'm in an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood.  I hope they're fun to read, too.

164 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those links have nothing to do with science fiction, spammer.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That link actually has something to do with fantasy entertainment, but because you annoyed me with the other comment, I'm deleting this one, too.

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Post this on an entry about sex, and I might let it stay. Otherwise, farewell, wanker!

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for removing it yourself. It saved me the trouble.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're probably one of the most respectable spammers I've had here, but you're still a spammer advertising for free on an entry that has noting to do with your service. Perhaps if you had posted this on one the entries about the federal budget or Detroit's bankruptcy, I'd let it stay. As it is, I'm deleting it.

      On another note, I wonder how this post became such a spam magnet. Ah, the mysteries of SEO!

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for helping to make this month a record for comments. Now go away.

      Delete
  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You really want to get in this fight on my blog? I'm very territorial and you're a trespasser.

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may be persistent, but you have no style or creativity. That written, thank you for increasing my page views and for making this the most commented on entry in the history of the blog.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a new client. It's still not on topic for this entry, so it goes.

      Delete
  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're doing me two small favors by spamming this entry. First, you're driving up my page views. Second, you're also increasing my comments. Thank you. To repay you, I'm still deleting this comment.

      Delete
  18. V P Associates Chartered Tax Advisors and Chartered Certified Accountants, represent an authoritative source on most aspects of tax and specialise in the following: Self-Assessment Tax advice, Self Employed Tax Returns, Company and Corporation Tax advice, Capital Gains Tax advice, Buy-To-Let Property Tax advice, Tax Planning and Tax Consultancy Services. With over 25 years of experience in the business of providing expert tax advice, V P Associates Chartered Tax Advisors offer valuable information to clients to help them save money, reduce and mitigate tax. V P Associates, Chartered Tax Advisors & Chartered Certified Accountants, are the first and foremost specialists in taxation matters. Visit their site for a comprehensive list of services: http://vpassociates.com/

    Accountants Lingfield

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The link in your spam is broken. Therefore, I'm allowing this comment to stay, as it's next to useless. Serves you right.

      Delete
  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper.

      Delete
  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

      Delete
  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person.

      Delete
  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts!

      Delete
  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  31. “Anxiety meditation” Reduce stress and anxiety using meditation
    Best anxiety meditation videos on YouTube

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations, spammer, this is just on-topic enough for me to let it stay.

      Delete
  32. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry. I like Boston, but this isn't on-topic enough for me to keep it. Deleted.

      Delete
  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is an English-language blog. Comments in languages other than English will be deleted.

      Delete
  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have two entries about spam you can post your ads to and a bunch of posts with the play label you could post this to where it would be on topic. You didn't post any of those places, so I'm deleting your comment.

      Delete
  35. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have posts about exercise where I'd let this comment remain. This isn't one of them, so off to the bit bucket it goes.

      Delete
  36. HTET Result 2018 Board of School Education Haryana (BSEH) will declare the result of HTET in January 2018.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is utterly irrelevant, but it doesn't look like commercial spam, so I won't delete it. However, I recommend you find an entry about education or India to post it.

      Delete
  37. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the first comment of the eighth year of this blog, I'm deleting your spam comment. Farewell!

      Delete
  38. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Off-topic, spam, casinos, and a non-English comment on a spamtrap entry. The deletion of this response was overdetermined.

      Delete
  39. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After five years, this entry is still a spam trap. Deleted.

      Delete
  40. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  41. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Non-English spam gets deleted, even on a spamtrap entry like this.

      Delete
  42. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You didn't read my response above or if you did, you didn't understand it: "Non-English spam gets deleted, even on a spamtrap entry like this."

      Delete
  43. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Non-English spam gets deleted, even on a spamtrap entry like this."
      "İngilizce olmayan spam, böyle bir spamtrap girdisinde bile silinir."

      Delete
  44. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have plenty of posts about food and cooking. Post your spam there. I'm deleting it here.

      Delete
  45. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Web hosting has nothing to do with PH34R. Deleted.

      Delete
  46. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a lot of music posts where I'd let this spam stay. This isn't one of them. Deleted.

      Delete
  47. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Put this on an entry about the stock market and I might let it stay. On any other entry, including a spam trap like this one, I'll delete it. Bye!

      Delete
  48. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have entries about food and health where I might let this spam stay. This isn't one of them, spam trap as it is. Deleted.

      Delete
  49. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your spam isn't any more welcome the second time. Deleted.

      Delete
  50. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This counts as spam in a language other than English, so I'm deleting it.

      Delete
  51. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This counts as non-English spam, so I'm deleting it.

      Delete
  52. xanax bar mg This dosage provides relief of anxiety for up to 6 hours after it has been ingested, which can help you focus on what needs to be done without being disrupted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's actually on topic, so it stays. Lucky Viking!

      Delete
  53. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Time to be a good environmentalist and recycle: "This counts as non-English spam, so I'm deleting it."

      Delete
  54. Online Reputation Repair Reputation Repair Service removes criminal history information and deletes criminal records. Creates positive content that replaces negative search results.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that is certainly a source of anxiety during the science fiction times we are living in, so I'll let it stay. Lucky you, spammer.

      Delete
  55. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have lots of entries about hemp legalization. This isn't one of them. Deleted.

      Delete
  56. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  57. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  58. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sex sells lottery numbers in Vietnamese — three reasons to delete your spam.

      Delete
  59. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even if you posted that on one of my few entries about astrology, I'd delete it for being non-English-language spam, which means I'm certainly deleting it here.

      Delete
  60. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excessive links and illegal products on top of being off-topic. All grounds for deletion.

      Delete
  61. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if I'd let that remain even in response to an entry about porn, and I have at least one of those. Here, it's just off-topic. Deleted.

      Delete
  62. Facts about addiction Addiction stands as the top public health problem in America outstanding all other major diseases including stroke, heart diseases and even cancer. The population of addicts is far larger than the patients suffering from the three mentioned diseases in America with sufferers ranging in millions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. O.K., fine. You're advertising a worthy enough service -- in Alberta, Canada -- that I'll let your spam stay. Lucky Viking!

      Delete
  63. Crunchyroll Crunchyroll is a dedicated anime streaming service that uploads over 30,000 episodes of top-rated anime episodes to subscribe members to it. Crunchyroll offers a comprehensive selection of high-quality dubbed anime series available for viewing no matter what time of day or night. All users can enjoy streaming live anime trailers, latest episodes, and popular anime show in the Crunchyroll catalog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, fine, since this is an entertainment entry and you're advertising a reputable entertainment service, your spam gets to stay. Lucky Viking!

      Delete
  64. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First, that will manage hyperactivity, not anxiety, so it's off-topic. Second, I delete spam with excessive links on sight. Bye!

      Delete
  65. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You again! You need to learn that I automatically delete non-English-language spam, doubly so if it's off-topic, like yours is. Bye!

      Delete
  66. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A new spammer with the same message, I see. Here, just to make myself clear to you and "AR Rahman,
      I'm going to repeat what I wrote to you and translate it to Czech:

      "You again! You need to learn that I automatically delete non-English-language spam, doubly so if it's off-topic, like yours is. Bye!"

      Zase ty! Musíte se naučit, že automaticky odstraňuji neanglický spam, a to dvojnásobně, pokud je mimo téma, jako je váš. Sbohem!

      Delete
  67. Replies
    1. You're posting that on a pro-gun-control blog? And one of your products has a price of $666.00? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I was going to delete your spam for being off-topic, but now I'm going to keep it for the comedy value.

      Delete
  68. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excessive links about illegal products. I don't care if they alleviate anxiety, I'm deleting your spam. Bye!

      Delete
  69. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's not just off-topic, it's irrelevant. Deleted.

      Delete
  70. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your site poses a security risk, so I'm deleting your spam. Too bad, as pets relieve anxiety, but malware is a 21st Century source of anxiety. Goodbye, phisher!

      Delete
  71. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your spam may advertise a product that decreases anxiety, but the idea of keeping it here makes me more anxious, so I'm deleting it.

      Delete
  72. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was wondering how long it would take for this entry to get its first spam comment of 2021. 23 days. Even so, this is off-topic enough that I'm still deleting it.

      Delete
  73. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's not just off-topic, it's irrelevant. Deleted.

      Delete
  74. I completely deleted a spam comment instead of merely removing its content. Oops. That will screw up my comment count for the month, so I'm leaving my own comments to replace them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That will teach me not to delete using the master comment page instead of doing so at the comment itself.

      O.K., now my comment count is back where it's supposed to be!

      Delete
  75. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  76. Replies
    1. LOL, you posted a dead link, so I'm keeping it for the comedy value.

      Delete
  77. buy saxenda online we focus on developing clients and improvement in healthcare. Our leading solutions include a predictive and action-oriented business intelligence platform, fully integrated retail, specialty and outpatient pharmacy solutions, and much more. Our products and services are designed to help drive operational results for our customers while improving outcomes for patients.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This product is legal while your last one wasn't, so I'm allowing your spam to stay. Lucky Viking!

      Delete
  78. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vapes may be legal, but some of the rest of the products advertised at the site are not, so I'm deleting your spam, no matter how much the products may alleviate anxiety.

      Delete
  79. motherhood CO.MOM is a fun new online magazine and social network community created by moms for moms. Read interesting articles, get advice from our agony aunt, aunt\y anne, learn how to earn an income online with our guru debbie or you can even seek medical advice from our resident physician dr samantha and relax while checking out the latest horoscopes from our trained mystic. Theres even a thriving forum community where moms of the world can get together and enjoy good conversation along with lots of other fun ways to kill some time with a cuppa when taking a break from being super mom at co.mom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would keep your spam because it's sort of on topic, but the dead link cements it for the comedy value.

      Delete
  80. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try putting this on an entry about cars or chemistry. There, I'd let it stay. Here, it's off-topic and I'm deleting it. Bye!

      Delete
  81. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I 'clicked here' and found the link address was deceptive, so I'm deleting your spam. Based on your track record, I'm not surprised.

      Delete