Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Wednesday Wonderings: does sci-fi always mean dystopia?
Okay, so because I am a major nerd (imagine that), I love Science Friday on NPR. Hubby and I listen to that weekly, along with Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. (This probably says a lot about us, huh? But don't knock it unless you've checked out some of the podcasts!) Anyhow, the show was talking about some of the best science films from the past year, from the standpoint of the judges in this category at the Sundance Film Festival. They got into this discussion about the sci-fi genre, too, and made some points that really peaked my interest:
Sci-fi often portrays a situation where new tech, aliens, or some other major event in the future changes the world for the worse.
Think about it: a virus is created and gets accidentally released, killing off a ton of people. Aliens arrive, and either kill off all humans or we kill off them, with loads of destruction. We figure out how to change our genomes, but the world is thrown into chaos. Through technological innovation we have tons of progress, but we destroy our planet. Kind of get the idea? A lot of time, sci-fi deals with things getting worse. And I don't just mean the story arc of troubles happening, but in general, the future (or time period that's portrayed) isn't exactly appealing.
What do you all think about this? Can you think of any stories that don't show this kind of pattern?
The program mentioned one recent film that bucks this trend--HER, that released a month or so ago. I saw the film and found it fascinating. I won't go into any spoilers, but the creation of AI computers (which I REALLY would love) leads to a guy falling in love with his operating system. While there is definitely conflict in the film, the world is definitely far from seriously troubled or falling apart. And I found that totally refreshing.
I don't want to get into this too much, but there's a problem with using the sci-fi genre (which is getting really popular right now) to show a world that is spiraling down the tubes. Because, well, it gives science a bad rap. And that really gets under my skin. Not that I want to use film/books/media to always show the good sides of science, but I think a better mix would be really beneficial. The scientists of tomorrow, the ones who will help us cure cancer, help us travel into space, help us fix the environment, need positive influences. We're not all scientists looking to take over world after all :)
Anyhow, this definitely got me thinking, and also has be thinking about some of the more scientific based plots I've had lurking around in my mind that it may be time for me to tackle. Because I want sci-fi to be showing just how awesome science really is :)
Thoughts? Have you ever thought about this kind of thing?
Wow, long post today.... :)