In recent days the LRC blog has been buzzing about the anti-government feel that permeates the hugely popular Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. Reflecting on this I realized that this is just one part of a larger trend within the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre since the Bush administration has taken office. I do not intend to connect people's view of Bush with anti-government Sci-Fi/Fantasy movies and books, but rather will just use his ascension into office as a time period in which to examine. The following is a partial list of popular movies and books within the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre that take an anti-government stance, even if that was not the intention of the writers, and have been released since the Bush administration took office.*
The Lord of the Rings: These three movies were based on books written in the 1950s, but since the movies came out recently I include them here. In this story J.R.R. Tolkien demonstrates that power can corrupt even the best of people. People who start out with good intentions can be seduced by this power until their primary goal becomes maintaining that power, and not the good intentions which motivated them to seek the power in the first place.
Star Wars Episodes I, II and III: These movies show the descent from Republic to Empire as the people gladly give up control to an evil government whose sole purpose is to consolidate its own power. These movies are a good demonstration of how government creates a crisis and then destroys liberty and grabs power in order to solve that crisis.
Serenity: This futuristic movie is based on the cult television series Firefly. Based loosely on the South following the War for Southern Independence, Firefly takes place following a war where the central planets of the universe forced all of the "independent" planets under their control in order to form the Alliance. This is one of the most anti-government movies/television shows I have ever seen. The main characters simply want the Alliance to leave them alone, but the Alliance wants complete control over everything. In Serenity the government has gone so far to control the population that they kill millions of people in an experiment to control peoples' minds in order to build a "perfect world."
X-Men: Based on a widely popular comic book of the same name, these movies show a minority group of people known as mutants, who represent the next stage in evolution. As human nature compels people to fear what they don't understand, the government passes the Mutant Registration Act, a Nazi style law which forces all mutants to register with the federal government. With the government unwilling to protect their rights many of the mutants form a group to fight back against the "humans." As violence begets violence this escalates until the government develops a drug to destroy the mutant gene and begins forcefully injecting mutants. This tyrannical action can be equated very easily with forced sterilization. In the comic books, but not appearing in the movies, mutants and non-mutants are eventually sorted, tagged and placed in concentration camps in order to solve the "mutant problem."
V for Vendetta: This movie takes place in a totalitarian futuristic London. Following a terrorist attack, which was staged by members of the government, a fascist-style party takes control and begins eroding liberties in order to have security. First the government attacks the Muslims, then the homosexuals, and then everyone else as England is turned into a fascist police state.
Batman Begins: Far from the campy 1960's Batman where the Dark Knight works to help Police Commissioner Gordon and D.A. Harvey Dent, in this version the city government is completely corrupt as cops, judges, doctors and councilmen are all on the payroll of criminal organizations.
Transformers: Though this movie is not outwardly anti-government it involves a secret government agency which conducts scientific studies that backfire and almost destroy the planet. Unfortunately the Secretary of Defense is portrayed as a good guy totally in the dark about all of this and in the end the President disbands the agency.
The Traveler: The International Best-selling book by John Twelve Hawks has been called "A cyber 1984" by The New York Times. In this book a group of power-hungry elites use the government to set up a worldwide electronic control grid, turning the world into a virtual prison. According to the author all of the technology used in this book currently exists or is being developed right now.
The Left Behind Series: Though it may be lost on the readers and even the writers, this series about the biblical end times demonstrates how evil men can gain control of government and use people's good intentions to create a literal hell on Earth. Following a global crisis where all the world's Christians disappear, the people of the world turn to the Global Community, an organization that grows out of the U.N. The newly elected leader of this government is the Anti-Christ, who uses fear to get everyone in the world to obey him and persecute dissenters. Though these books are poorly written, if read from a libertarian point of view they make a very good case for small government. However, I do not think that was the writers' intention at all.
*Some of the serial movies and books listed began before Bush took office, but had further parts come out since 2001.
July 25, 2007