February 24, 2010

being human in a Sci-Fi world

I came across a story in USA Today from earlier this week (via CTMovies) that looks at the recent success of Science-Fiction films and Oscar nominations for Best Picture going to Avatar and District 9. The closing quote in the article is the most profound, coming from Sigourney Weaver, as she reflects on whether either of these movies will actually win Oscars:
"With that label, 'sci-fi,' I think it'll be tough," she says. "But of course, to look at these movies with that label is to miss the points they are trying to make. These movies ask us to look at what it means to be human."
I find it interesting that a genre that might have been shunned in the past as "for the nerds" is now mainstream, but why the success now? I won't go as far as to say, "I called it", but I'm pleased that the Fall Movies @ Grace series was called "Being Human", exploring topics of humanness and authentic experience in Into the Wild, Wall-E, and The Soloist (though I had to cancel the last showing because Sarah was about to go into labor). The discussion about sci-fi after viewing Wall-E was a lot of fun, about the stark/bleak vision of the future at the start of the film and how robots demonstrated characteristics of human love and courage far more naturally than the blobular humans in the movie.

(Good/lasting) Sci-fi and Fantasy artworks typically deal with this theme, about what it means to be human. In recent years, these genres have increased in visibility and popularity. The remake of Battlestar Gallactica comes to mind as a great example. What other movies/shows/books come to mind for you? Why do you think that this has come about now, in first decade of the 21st Century?

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