Interstellar's Mistaken Mission: Abandon Earth Instead of Healing It
Posted on December 7, 2014
Yesterday evening I sat through "Interstellar," an endless (169-minute) journey into intergalactic space. The film was a thrilling ride, I would guess, for those who enjoy cinematic space odysseys. I personally couldn't get beyond the film's hazy fundamental premise: an ill-defined blight had so ravaged our earthly environment that humanity's only hope for survival lay elsewhere.
Watching mountainous dust storms sweep across vast cornfields tended by pre-programmed harvesting machines, I wondered why, in a bio-diverse world, this mono-cultured crop was featured as the last food source to withstand the mysterious blight. More broadly, I was bothered by the message that it would somehow be easier to colonize a distant star than nurse our own planet back to health.
As the story unfolded, it became clear that previous missions had already dropped solo explorers onto a handful of distant celestial bodies. It befell Hollywood's Matthew McConaughey and his crew to select one of them as the new home for humanity's saving remnant. After narrowly escaping death while careening through space, the fearless captain awakens to find himself watching a surreal game of Little League baseball, played on lush green turf in a space warp dotted with suburban homes worthy of the Stepford Wives. Beyond the black hole, the American suburban myth lives on.
Friends had told me that "Interstellar" was a sci-fi film with an environmental message. To me, the environmental message - if there was one - surrendered far too easily to the fantasy of intergalactic manifest destiny.