Yesterday evening, between 7:20PM and 9:10PM those of us with nothing better to do tuned in to Channel 4 to watch the 2008 remake, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu – basically just to see how it compared to the 1951 classic and Michael Rennie’s Klaatu.
The thing one has to understand about science fiction films is that they invariably end up saying far more about the concerns, preoccupations and cares of the writers than of the nature of any alien or its civilisation. These dramas explore the human condition. Anybody who does not realise this has quite literally, lost the plot.
The 1951 film was a brilliant commentary on the anti-communist cold war hysteria of McCarthy era America and the real and present danger of nuclear Armageddon. Rennie’s portrayal of an alien incognito in 1950s Washington DC was a superb stage on which to dramatise the fears and prejudices of America at that time. In the end however the film’s message was one of hope.
The 2008 remake was every bit as revealing of the concerns, preoccupations and cares of the writers of the time. Cold war anti-communist fears were gone. In their place was, you guessed it, “the environment.”
Whereas Klaatu came to Earth in 1951 to save humanity from itself, the Klaatu of 2008 came to Earth to save it [the Earth] from humanity! By exterminating us! Errr….Why? Was humanity a threat? Were the aliens who sent Klaatu worried that we human upstarts might develop the ability to travel to the stars and attack them? Err no. The aliens were concerned about the damage humanity was doing to planet Earth. Do you recall Dear Reader all those thousands, nay, millions of unobserved and unrecorded life-forms deep in the Amazon rainforest? All those insects and worms and tree fungi? Well it seems the aliens were as worried about these creatures as is Mr. Chris Huhne, late of the Department of Climate Change. Their solution? Kill off the humans and let the insects live! One of the most telling lines in the script was where the US Defense Secretary asked Klaatu, “Why have you come to our planet?” To which Klaatu tellingly replied, “Its not your planet.” What the visitor meant was that humans did not own the planet, they were a mere component of it, and a destructive one at that!
Of course it did not happen. The lead actors including John Cleese managed to persuade Klaatu to put the execution on hold. It seems Klaatu was finally convinced enough to be able to prevail upon his unseen colleagues to commute the death sentence to a life sentence living under the dictatrixship of Mrs Lucas – in a mud hut replete with home made candles and a dung oven for cooking chapattis to eat with the organic goat’s cheese and milk – with a little watercress for added flavour! Yes, I know Dear Reader, I agree! Far better a quick end delivered by Gort’s death ray!
Overall, the 2008 remake told us an awful lot about the new Green religon, Gaiaism.
Comparing Gaiaism with the three major monotheistic faiths, Christianity, Islam and Judaism is most revealing.
Christianity (Catholic & Orthodox), Islam (Sunni & Shia) and Judaism have a lot in common. Fundamentally, all three religions maintain the following: That God created the Heavens and the Earth and created all the creatures thereon. Central to this was what all three religions attest as God’s greatest creation: Mankind. Man has been placed in dominance and stewardship of the Earth to exploit its riches in such a way to ensure that Mankind is fruitful and multiplies. That God gave man the intelligence to do this and free will to be able to learn and to grow rather than be some automaton. Of course there are duties and responsibilities.
Gaiaism is however in stark contrast to this: its theology is the very opposite of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Whereas Christianity, Islam and Judaism assert that Mankind is God’s ultimate and most precious creation, Gaiaism asserts that “Humans” are merely animals with larger brains than many of the other animals in the ecosystem that they inhabit. The “ecosystem” is central to Gaiaism. It is the ecosystem of the planet that is the finest creation of Gaia. Gaiaists maintain that the planet developed an ecosystem which sustains life and that if any one lifeform expands in such a way as to prejudice the existence or well being (as defined by the Gaiaists of course) that life form must be rained in.
Whereas Mankind stands dominant and in stewardship of the Earth in the three great faiths, Gaiaism asserts that Humans must exist in harmony with all other lifeforms. Gaiaism places the Earth itself as the most important creation and Humans must not damage it. In this it is unique – a religion that places Humanity with the animals.
What is of particular interest is the extent to which Gaisism proselytises itself. That too is unique. The two major proselytising faiths are Christianity and Islam – which of course has been a cause of much conflict! These two faiths proselytise is a conventional manner: adherents go forth into the world and “bear witness” and attract converts. They have their own religious doctrines, liturgy and buildings (churches and mosques). They have their own clergy as well. Uniquely however, Gaiaism has none of these things! It is a parasite religion: it latches itself onto other religions and uses the doctrine and dogma of the faith to inculcate itself into the target faith and to corrupt it. This insidious and stealth approach has been brilliantly successful – especially in the Protestant churches – the Methodist Church particularly so!
Of course, Sci-Fi is not the only genre that makes a commentary on the thoughts of the creators of it. Horror films do so to. It is interesting to make some comments on and comparison with the Omen trilogy of films. Very briefly, the Omen trilogy describes in a very shallow and boringly predictable way – lots of Latin, bells, books candles and incense – about the “anti-Christ” and it’s [the anti-Christ] eventual downfall. If you haven’t seen the films, don’t worry, you haven’t missed much! Basically it portrays the Devil as a immoral, bacchanalian figure determined to indulge in the carnal sins. As a result the films are very two dimensional and boring – they were just a way to deliver blood gore and the occasional titillation to the audience. The most telling message the Omen trilogy sent was the preoccupation the American censors have with the human body and genitalia. It seems that gruesome violence depicting the severing of limbs and horrific murder are quite acceptable to put before an audience of teenagers and adults. However a woman’s breasts (along with male and female genitalia) are an absolute No No! Bizarre!
Would it not be more thought provoking to portray a demonic power in terms of a new religious movement whose dogma and doctrine is diametrically opposite to Christianity and the other major faiths?