Sunday, April 27, 2008

Just People

Note: This is chock full of spoilers, but since the movie is 35 years old, deal with it.

It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of

Most people have heard this line in one context or another. It's one of the final lines from the 1973 movie Soylent Green, screamed by the great over-actor Charlton Heston. It's famous because his screaming is funny, because the whole idea is amusing. 35 years later, one begins to wonder whether the movie could be strangely prophetic.

Soylent Green is a futuristic thriller about the year 2022, but some of the themes in it sound familiar. Earth is overcrowded (check). People are living longer (check). The amount of people have caused shortages in basic foods (check). These foods have greatly risen in cost because of this (check).

The crux of the plot comes in at this point. It seems that old people have begun disappearing. What is happening is that the government is taking the old people into a room where they are shown pleasant movies about nature and then gassing them. The dead people are turned into the new, cheaper food called soylent green.

So we live in a world where the population does not look to be levelling off. Wholesalers have begun to ration rice, a basic food staple, for the first time that I can remember. The environment, with which Soylent Green doesn't deal, could even lead to worse crops. It's hard to imagine how these problems are going to quickly get better. At the retirement community I visited yesterday, the area where Alzheimer's and other very sick patients go for the remainder of their lives is even called "Renaissance Gardens". Nice name for a not so nice place.

Look, I know it's an impossibly large step to go from where we are to cannibalism. I know that the world has done enough with cloning and synthetic foods that there are other options. However, 35 years ago most of the plot points in this movie were unbelievable works of science fiction. And now, most of the plot points are happening. 14 years earlier than the movie had them happening. It looks Orwell wasn't the only person who thought up a hellish future and came up with our very real present.

No comments: