At the same time it leaves open the question that perhaps we ourselves are not the bastions of enlightenment that we think we are, but are much the product of our cultural time. I suspect every generation believes that they are the ones who have it all figured out. Until they start to be replaced by a new generation and start to long for the good old days. But the acceptance of this mutability and ambiguity leaves open the consciousness possible directions for the future striving for the wokeness of self-knowledge. A future in which, inevitably, future generations will look back at us as prisoners of this time and see us for the barbarians we are.
Oh how long our ancestors have suffered over the centuries without WIFI! Whatever did they do with themselves? What’s more – aren’t you grateful for the silicon gifts? Always remember, Alan Turing died for our sins! Hallelujah for the Turing Machine! Amen for the iPhone we are saved!
I’m perplexed by the slew of negative reactions. Downsizing, although not a perfectly polished film like his 2005 masterpiece Sideways, is without a doubt Payne’s most ambitious and thoughtful political and social satire. I’ll explain why this is a great film – a twenty-first century Gulliver’s Travels.
Try actually seeing Stonehenge and it’s not at all like the movies. The sacred stones are protected behind a fence which protects them from the thousands of people rushing up to see it. Even though you have seen the pictures, have the postcards, have the video, everyone feels compelled to whip out their own smart phones … to get one of their own crappy pictures to go along with it. To be the personal photographer of Stonehenge, only this time joining hundreds of other people who all think they are special with their own personal photos too.
In place of political power of an enriched citizenry, the firearm, like God and gold, takes on a totemic power, representing the last stand of individual liberty.
Trumpism is like the political embodiment of those men who put truck nuts and noxious coal burners on their diesel pickup trucks filling up the streets with plumes of black death – what aficionados call “rollin’ coal,” or “Prius repellant.” Youtube has a plethora of videos where a couple of rednecks are yuckin’ in up watching their buddies billow plumes of death from their tailpipes on liberal roadside demonstrators in their pink hats. A glance at the comments below the videos and it’s clear who is watching ecocidal resentment porn – one read something like “nice job, should be using mustard gas though.”
But despite its flaws has an underlying structure that could have made for a great film. As time goes on, I’m beginning to realize a couple of things about Costner’s disaster epic. One, that it was perhaps an ill-timed film – perhaps made a decade too late or two decades too soon. And in the critical flaws of the film’s tone, particularly in the much dissed second half, could be much better interpreted in the real life dystopian Trumpian America of 2017.