Last Friday night, my husband and I saw Matt Damon’s new movie, Elysium. We decided to give it a try because I like apocalyptic, dystopian books and movies and my hubby likes sci-fi action films with lots of special effects. This movie is a lot of both, plus some pretty obvious political commentary.
It starts in the late 21st century with the Earth diseased, polluted and grossly overpopulated. The wealthy and powerful escaped Earth and now, in 2154, live on a fabulous five-spoked wheel of a space station called “Elysium.”
People on Earth look up and dream of life on Elysium, where there are fabulous mansions, carefully groomed lawns and gardens (complete with sparkling blue pools) and, most desirable of all, high-tech medical beds that cure any illness or repair any physical damage that one might suffer. One could live forever on Elysium, theoretically, and many risk their lives to get there illegally, usually being blown out of the sky before ever arriving, at the command of the heartless Defense Secretary Delacourt (played by Jodie Foster).
Matt Damon is Max, an earth dweller who has dreamed of buying his way to Elysium since he was a poor child in a Catholic orphanage. As you can probably predict, Max eventually has a desperate need for a medibed, finds a way to get to Elysium taking along the obligatory terminally ill child, and helps to reboot the whole system of the satellite, allowing all Earth dwellers to become citizens (a requirement to be able to use the medibeds). The dying girl is saved in the nick of time, and thousands of medibeds are immediately shipped to Earth (one has to wonder how they had so many sitting there ready to go) and suddenly there is free healthcare for all!
Seriously. Does Hollywood see itself like the rest of us see it? Do these people ever look around?
This movie is clearly trying to make the point that the evil, powerful, and rich in society (Republicans, obviously) are doing all they can to separate themselves from the masses, denying them all but the most basic necessities of life, and forcing them into crowded, dirty and ill-equipped hospitals for what little health-care they can get.
What jobs there are to be had (outside of the dirty, crowded and Ill-equipped hospitals) are in factories where production is pushed over safety and the injured and sick are cast aside to make room for their replacements. I guess Obamacare succeeded in destroying the health insurance market, as planned. And where are the unions? Oh, right, the Republicans destroyed them.
The only hope for the masses, according to this flick, is for brave 99-percenters to invade the sanctuaries of the wealthy and force them to redistribute their (inexhaustible?) wealth to the world. Third worlders should all be given citizenship to the wealthiest place on Earth, or at least near Earth, so they can all partake of the benefits of citizenship, which, again, must be inexhaustible. I truly cannot even begin to comment on the complete economic ignorance portrayed here.
In spite of the obvious parallels to immigration, healthcare, and the haves vs. the have-nots, Damon and director Neill Blomkamp both claim that there is no political agenda or any particular message intended in the story of Elysium. I have trouble believing that they actually believe that, but there is something even more disturbing about this movie.
Our friends in Hollywood would have us believe that wealthy conservatives and Republicans are the ones who separate themselves from the masses in society, hiding in elite, gated communities, refusing even to breath the same air as the common people, while enjoying a style of life and opportunities the rest of the world can only dream of. Yet, life in Elysium most closely resembles the life that we see the Hollywood elites living. The palatial homes and manicured gardens on the Elysium satellite look like they came right out of exclusive, gated communities in Southern California.
And who has the freedom to fly wherever they want for whatever they need, including the very best of healthcare, other than our elite ruling class? The Hollywood crowd, of course.
It is laughably unbelievable that these gifted artists can make a movie like this and not even realize it is about them. Hollywood, *you* are Elysium. Not the Republicans or wealthy capitalists. You. Are. Elysium.