… AND FISH FROM THE SEA

IT SEEMS LIKE every movie is getting a remake these days .

Psycho. The Wicker Man. Dawn of the Dead. The Pink Panther. Evil Dead.

If the movie was made more than six months ago, its getting a remake.

Much fuss was made about the recent remake of Ghostbusters.

And by “fuss” I mean people are saying that it sucked.

I don’t have an opinion about that.

frdxr

I mean, I do. But that’s not what this blog post is all about.

What this blog post is about is how it seems that every movie nobody wants to be remade gets a remake and movies that could do for a remake haven’t been remade.

… although every-so-often a movie does spawn a short-lived TV show.

The movie I’m thinking about is Logan’s Run.

I’m really surprised that no one has remade this movie.

It’s actually a pretty good flick.

And with the kind of special effects that folks like ILM do these days, they’d certainly make characters like Box look better than this

logansrun3

THIS REALLY IS BAD

Ok. Now for the plot.

Logan’s Run (released in 1976, based on the 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson) takes place in a city in the post-apocalyptic future. The City is under a Dome; a refuge for what remains of civilization after mankind nearly annihilates itself by nuclear war.

62145-city1

Logan’s City under the Dome is a utopia. Everyone in the City is slim, beautiful, and content with lives where everything is provided for; the people don’t worry about food, shelter, or raising their own children. Life under the dome is carefree and filled with pleasure.

More importantly, everyone in the City is young.

picture-10-1024x475
That’s because no one is allowed to live past 30.

In the City, one’s lifespan is governed by a life-clock, signified by a crystal stone implanted into the palm of the hand at birth. As a person ages the crystal changes color, eventually turning from a color to a blinking light as one approaches their thirtieth year.

At thirty, citizens go to Carousel where they are “renewed”.

2lr_idendtify_m

THESE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE RENEWED. YES, LOOKING LIKE THAT.

When you’re renewed, they say you are reborn.

More about that in a minute.

While watching Logan’s Run, a few things popped into my mind:

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Bentham’s hedonism
Thomas More’s Utopia
Plato’s Republic

Society under the Dome is structured much like Plato’s ideal city in Republic and Huxley’s Brave New World. Under the Dome, citizens are arranged into separate groups. Social status (in this case, a citizen’s age) is indicated by garment color (red, yellow, green). Children are not born and raised by their biological mothers and fathers but are cultivated and raised in nurseries. Citizens are given names proceeded by a number (Logan 5, Jessica 6, Holly 13, and the like).

Life is all about doing drugs, having promiscuous sex, and watching people renewed at Carousel.

tumblr_m6b2qersqx1qedb29o1_500

And so… we’re introduced to Logan 5, a Sandman who – wait.

I have to get back to something…

When a person reaches the age of thirty they are sent to Carousel.

Carousel is where you are renewed.

When you are renewed, you are reborn.

At Carousel, the thirty year old body is destroyed and the individual is reincarnated into another body… or so people are told.

logansrun1-1024x428

ANY CASUAL OBSERVER COULD FIGURE OUT THAT ANY “RENEWAL” CEREMONY THAT STARTS OUT LIKE A DELETED SCENE FROM “EYES WIDE SHUT” PROBABLY WON’T END WELL

However, some people in the City have figured out that when you are renewed at Carousel you die.

That’s where Logan comes in.

Logan 5 and his buddy Francis 7, belong to a group called Sandman. Sandmen catch and eliminate “runners” – people who attempt to avoid being renewed at Carousel.

logans_run_movie_image_1976_michael_york

THIS IS LOGAN 5. DID I MENTION THAT LOGAN IS 30 YEARS OLD?

One such runner is named Jessica 6.

Logan meets Jessica 6, a woman who is looking for a place called Sanctuary, a place rumored to be outside of the walled City where there is no Carousel and people can live freely.

0ccb2f73-8a75-4feb-8c22-e7fe68228479

THIS IS JESSICA 6. IT’S PRETTY EASY TO FIGURE OUT WHY LOGAN WANTED TO FOLLOW HER TO SANCTUARY.

After persuading Logan that people are not renewed at Carousel (but that they actually are killed) Logan and Jessica escape the City. Unfortunately, the pair discover that Sanctuary is a myth.

However, while outside, they meet an old man. Because no one under the Dome is allowed to live past the age of thirty, they’ve never seen a person as old as the old man. The old man tells Logan and Jessica the story of his life – that he was born of a mother and was raised by and lived with his parents until they died.

logansrun07

OH YEAH, THE OLD MAN HAS GOT A BUNCH OF CATS, TOO

Jessica and Logan decide to take the old man to the city.
At the end of the film, the people gather around the old man, intrigued by the old, strange man who lived outside the Dome.

moviequiz_910-2

THIS OLD MAN IS ABOUT 3 MINUTES FROM BEING THE CAUSE OF A SOCIETAL COLLAPSE

You know, I enjoyed Logan’s Run. I enjoyed the story of Logan 5 and Jessica 6. I rooted for them to escape the City. But something kept nagging me while I watched the film.

Sure, Logan and Jessica probably avoided going to Carousel, but is that a good thing?

It’s understandable that Logan and Jessica want to escape, but do they need to disrupt the social order?

logan2

WHO WOULD WANT TO PUT AN END TO A CEREMONY THAT ENDS LIKE THIS?

We can assume by the looks of the world outside of the Dome and by the fact that there is just one old guy alive out there, that something horrible happened to humanity in the past. Society needed to construct the City under the Dome. Society needed Carousel.

The Classical Greek philosopher, Plato writes that the success and security of the polis depends on everyone adhering to the way society is structured. To deviate from societal structure, Plato states, can potentially collapse society.

Life in Plato’s ideal city is highly regulated. Individuals are divided into groups based on social status: an auxiliary class, comprised of warriors who defend the city and enforce the laws, and a the lower class, both ruled by a class of guardians, headed by the philosopher-king.

philosopher-king_t670_t658

THE PHILOSOPHER-KING PROMISES WISE LEADERSHIP… AND FREE REFILLS

We aren’t told exactly how the City under the Dome is arranged, but in Logan’s Run, we see a large class of citizens, policed by the Sandmen, who make sure that the citizens comply with the ritual of Carousel.

And like Plato’s ideal city, the people of the Dome are tied to the city through ritual. The ritual of renewal at Carousel binds people to the City. And like Plato’s Republic, children of the domed city are raised, not by their biological parents, but by nurses. Parents are merely sperm and egg donors with no attachment to their offspring.

The rituals in Plato’s Republic and in Logan’s Run are reinforced through lies – what Plato calls Noble Lies. Plato writes,

“Could we,” I said, “somehow contrive one of those lies that come into being in vase of need, of which we were just now speaking, some one noble lie to persuade, in the best case, even the rulers, but of not them, the rest of the city?”(Book III, 414b-c)

People under the Dome are told that they don’t die but are renewed. The promise of being renewed keeps people compliant.

They don’t mind (or don’t notice) that runners are killed by Sandmen.

logansrun046

NOTHING TO SEE, HERE. JUST GO BACK TO WATCHING PEOPLE INCINERATED IN A BIZARRE DEATH RITUAL. RENEW!

Or even ask why people are running in the first place.

Why would anyone run if you’re going to be renewed?

The life-clock is a lie.

Even the story of Sanctuary is a myth. There is no Sanctuary. People who flee the city are killed… by this guy.

2249-11345

BOY, THIS REALLY DOES LOOK BAD

If Box were back in the Republic of Plato, he would have been part of the auxiliary.

And like Huxley’s Brave New World, life under the Dome is easy and uncomplicated. The City functions by unseen leaders with no input from the citizens. The people under the Dome are kept busy with a leisurely life of carnal delights like sex and drugs. If you are dissatisfied with way you look, go to New You and change your face!

( because “Ending is better than mending”)

64b9689c001971cd8bfc7ac28c392d3d

NEW YOU! OFFERS THE BEST FACIAL RECONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY MONEY CAN BUY… AND FARRAH FAWCETT

Those who refuse to comply are kept outside of the City where are left to fend for themselves. Sandmen sweep the City to remove problem individuals and runners are dealt with quickly and harshly.

Now, we know that every utopia is, in reality, a dystopia. Despite outward appearances, Utopian living is anything but Utopian. People are robbed of their freedom. Compliance is forced. People cannot choose their own way of life. Those who threaten the utopia are eliminated. In Logan’s Run, mere talk of life outside of the City is forbidden.

When Logan and Jessica leave the Dome to find Sanctuary, they are pursued by Logan’s Sandman partner, Francis 7. Logan and Jessica learn that those who escape the City do not find Sanctuary, but instead find the mechanical assassin Box, whose sole purpose is to kill the escaped Runners.

Which brings me to my question – what good can come of introducing the old man to the City?

633-3

SURE. HE ONLY LOOKS HARMLESS

Sure, Plato says that people need to leave the cave and step into the light of truth, but at what expense? What if that truth upends the social order?

It’s clear that Carousel is form of population control – not just to prevent overpopulation, but also as a means of Platonic myth-making Noble Lies meant to bind the people’s loyalty to the City. Certainly the old man’s presence would be jarring. The old man is introduced to a society that not only does not know that people grow old and die, but it’s also a tightly-controlled society where every need and want are provided for. The old man’s very existence challenges (if not shatters) the myth of Carousel, and by extension the foundation of society underneath the Dome. The old man’s arrival would throw the City into chaos (I suspect this is exactly why Logan and Jessica brought the old man back to the city with them).

Is the old man the right kind of chaos to bring to the City – a city populated with drug-taking, promiscuous infantile people who have no idea that the human lifespan is longer than thirty years, don’t raise their own children, or how to self govern?

What happens to the old man after the unseen City rulers learn of his presence?

How soon is he renewed at Carousel?

 

 

 

 

Sources: Plato. Republic. Trans. Allan Bloom. 1991. Basic Books.

KIERKEGAARDING WITH THE KARDASHIANS

IF THERE’S ONE THING that most people can agree upon, its that we live in a culture of celebrity worship. Its not just that there’s a few tabloid rags at the check-out counter; there are entire networks devoted to exploring the lives and goings-on of the famous and almost famous.

Entire networks.

We weren’t always like this, they say…

And with a marketplace oversaturated with a celebrity idolatry, its easy to pick out, or rather, pick on, the famous folks that we choose to blame for our culture’s obsession with celebritydom.

Now, there’s plenty of famous folks to blame

We can blame Oprah. Or Snooki and reality TV. Or even blame TMZ.

e1w6i0y

I FOUND THIS MEME. I DID NOT MAKE IT. A LOT OF PEOPLE HATE TMZ….. APPARENTLY.

But most say the blame for the decline of American civilization truly lies here, with this family

THE KARDASHIANS.

landscape-1455277317-kanye-west-kardashians-yeezy-front-row
They are undeniably the first family of reality television. And they’ve built a brand so popular and successful that those who are merely Kardashian-adjacent manage to snag more than their fair share of 15 minutes of fame.

A brand so popular and successful that their activities and scandals are even covered on the “legit” news.

I think we can all agree that it’s a fairly “in” thing to talk shit about the Kardashians. It’s easy to dismiss or to talk disparagingly about the family, either as individuals or collectively. And I’m not going to deny that I’ve participated in more than my fair share of Kardashian-bashing. To say that you not only do not watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians but also despise them is seen as a badge of honor and integrity.

Despising the Kardashians and all that they symbolize means that one is enlightened.

I no longer believe that this is the case.

I’ve discovered, while talking shit about people that you’ll never meet and can’t possibly hear you (at least I don’t think any of them can hear me), that doing so isn’t helpful.
At least not helpful if you want to do something more than talk shit.

Doing more is exactly what I intend to do.

55721696

I’m not going to say that my opinion on celebrity culture has completely changed (for the record, I still think that TMZ is one of the worst things out there. And yes, I watch it regularly), but I’ve come to a new conclusion, at least so far as my feelings towards the Kardashians.

Listen:

It would be easy to say that nothing of value has come from this family. They’re celebrities, and celebrity matters only to those people who have nothing of value to say, anyway.

“Small minds discuss people” they say.

But, offhandedly dismissing the Kardashians would be rude and unphilosophical.

I hold to the idea that anything – everything is philosophical.

28019091

Anything or any one has lessons to teach, and yes, even the Kardashians.

And you don’t even have to watch the show to learn a lesson, either.*
I’ve drawn up a list of the philosophical things I thought about while watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians:

  • The nature of fame and its effects on the individual and the society. What kind of people become famous. Are they the kind of people that we should look up to? Are famous people inherently better than others? Are they the kind of people that philosophers like Plato had in mind when he wrote of those who should be leaders of the polis?
  • Caitlyn Jenner and gender: What is gender and gender identity/gender expression? What makes us masculine a/or feminine? How do we navigate the intersection between biological gender, gender identity, and sexuality? We do feminist philosophers such as Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, bell hooks, and Helen Longino have to say about the subject?
  • Kanye West and what makes a philosopher? Some (often derisively) name Kanye West as a modern philosopher. Is he a philosopher? What makes a philosopher? Is philosophy strictly limited to academia or can anyone become a “philosopher”?
  • The Kardashian/Jenner sisters are not only known for their celebrity but are also well-known for their looks and their association with beauty products. We can discuss the philosophical definition of beauty, and how the philosophical definition conforms (or does not conform) to our conversations about beauty and aesthetics.
  • Reality and reality TV. Is reality television reality or the appearance of the real? How does reality TV present the real world to the audience and are reality television producers morally obligated to inform the audience that reality TV isn‘t “real”? There’s plenty of material to cover here, including commentaries (from postmodernist philosophers such as) Jean Baudrillard, to the ontology of Platonic forms, Kant’s transcendental idealism, and Descartes’ evil demon.
  • Questions of value: What is valuable? How do we measure value – is it merely a matter of taste or can we quantify value philosophically? Is what is valuable good? What is the Good? Are some reality TV shows Good – better for us philosophically than others?
  • There’s always some sort of moral dilemma going on: So long as people act, there will be motivations and consequences of their actions, and those actions can be evaluated ethically.
  • Personal identity: Who we are. Who do we present ourselves and is that presentation authentic?

We can drift into some pretty heavy existential conversations, right there.

Everyone knows you cant discuss anything pop culture without somehow drawing in Nietzsche. Someone is bound to quote (or misquote) an aphorism or two.

friedrich-nietzsche

 

And lastly, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, or any other television program, can aid in the philosophical study/analysis of pop culture in general.

Those are just a few thoughts I had while watching the show.

I’m not saying that watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians is a replacement for reading Kierkegaard or that you should quote Kim Kardashian in your next term paper.

… unless she says something really brilliant.

Then by all means, do.

Just as philosophers defend philosophy against those who decree philosophy dead and useless

Stephen Hawking I’m looking at you…

quote-why-are-we-here-where-do-we-come-from-traditionally-these-are-questions-for-philosophy-stephen-hawking-12-67-47

 

Philosophers shouldn’t get into the habit of offhandedly dismissing something that we may think is useless – it just might be very useful.

So at least give the show a peek before you completely write it off.

And even if you hate it, you can probably find a philosophical explanation for why you hate it, too.

It’s one of E! Network’s most popular shows, which means it’s on a lot.

It’s probably on right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* ALTHOUGH WATCHING KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS ISN’T NECESSARY TO DISCUSS THEM, IT’S STRONGLY SUGGESTED THAT YOU CHECK OUT AT LEAST A COUPLE OF EPISODES. IF ANYONE SEES YOU AND DEMANDS TO KNOW WHY YOU’RE WATCHING THE SHOW, JUST TELL THEM YOU’RE WATCHING IT FOR “RESEARCH PURPOSES”.