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Slouching towards Elysium

The militarized and highly protected exclusive space station for the rich and over-privileged looms over Earth in the 2013 science-fiction and social-justice film “Elysium.”

It is ironic that in the same week that we finally focus our attention on the fact that the heartless, fascistic, unelected Pussygrabber regime is keeping non-citizen Latino children separated from their parents and in cages, “President” Pussygrabber himself demands that we create a/the “space force.”

Gee, how might militarized space play out in the future?

In the 2013 Neill Blomkamp sci-fi film “Elysium,” the rich and powerful live in luxury on a space station (named Elysium) that orbits above Earth, visible in the sky from the surface of the planet. Below on Earth, we’re shown a desperate population that deals with poverty, pollution, overpopulation, hunger, sickness and disease, crime, shit jobs and general misery.

Most of the action on Earth takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles, which is comprised of a lot of Latinos and which is fully bilingual; our white protagonist, played by Matt Damon, was raised by a Spanish-speaking Latina woman and he speaks Spanish as well as English himself, and his best friend, played by Diego Luna, is Latino, and the woman and her daughter whom he tries to help (the latter is in need of a significant amount of health care that isn’t available to her on Earth, but is readily available to the denizens of Elysium) are Latina.

The miserable residents of Earth, who are kept in line by robot thugs, routinely attempt to reach Elysium via small spacecraft, usually if not only for life-saving medical care, but they much more often than not are shot down by the denizens of the space station before they can reach it; the rabble’s success rate of reaching the militarized and weaponized Elysium is quite small.

Elysium’s security is handled by a heartless Department-of-Homeland-Security-head-type she-Nazi played by Jodie Foster, who apparently was the inspiration for our current, real-life head of Homeland Security.

Elysium’s super-computer recognizes you as a citizen or a non-citizen of Elysium; your citizenship status is all-important, as it determines how (and pretty much even whether) you live. And, again, robot thugs, not unlike the U.S. Border Patrol and other law-enforcement thugs, keep the desperate masses in line for the elite of Elysium.

All sound familiar?

Admittedly, “Elysium” is a flawed film — for example, at the end of the film we are to believe that the space station, which is tiny compared to the planet, has enough resources to save everyone on Earth — but its set-up and its social commentary are fairly brilliant.

And it’s fairly visionary, because it is the direction in which we already are headed: an over-privileged few have far more than they’ll ever need — and they protect their over-privilege and their overabundance with violence and with the threat of violence — while the masses don’t have enough.

There are solutions to our problems. To name just one solution: birth control. Overpopulation causes so much pain and misery (hunger, homelessness, pollution, overcrowding, the rapid spread of disease, etc.), which is one of the reasons that while I love my Latino peeps, I oppose the backasswards and ultimately evil Catholick church, with its emphasis on its adherents having more and more children and its official prohibition against even contraception (and, of course, abortion).

No, I don’t advocate forced sterilization or forced abortion or anything like that, but I do advocate totally free birth control and totally free sterilization (and totally free abortion [within the first trimester, and later if medically called for]) for those who want it and request it.* The money that we’d pay toward controlling the population would be a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend because we don’t sensibly control our numbers.

We are at a junction where we still can put our collective foot on the brakes and enact policies to stem such preventable problems as even more overpopulation and even more pollution and even more climate change. And, of course, we must oppose the militarization of space, for fuck’s sake.

Or, we can just sit on our collective asses and wait until “President” in Perpetuity Pussygrabber gets his “space force,” which we’ll pay for, of course, and which he and his henchtraitors only will use against the rest of us — “Elysium”-style.

P.S. Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie wrote a pretty good piece positing that perhaps this time the Pussygrabber regime really has gone too far. In his piece, Bouie concludes (the links are Bouie’s):

… The common thread among each administration official is that they have grossly mischaracterized the situation at the border, hoping to justify their actions by portraying asylum-seekers as vectors of criminality, when they have a legal right to seek asylum, and when their offenses [crossing the border illegally] [usually] are only misdemeanors.

They’ve gotten scant support from fellow Republicans, who seem to see political danger, if not the moral challenge at hand. “The president should immediately end this family separation policy,” said Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska in a Facebook post, calling the policy “wicked” and correctly framing it as “a new, discretionary choice.” Many Republicans rightfully fear a backlash at the polls, should the policy continue.

[“Alt-right” Pussygrabber whisperer] Stephen Miller may have successfully trolled his opposition, but like the attempted “Muslim ban,” his weapon of choice is a moral travesty and a political disaster in the making. Instead of bolstering his boss, it may weigh him down with another crisis, jeopardizing his party’s hold on Congress and the administration’s ability to operate with impunity.

We’ll see. I truly had thought that the “Access Hollywood” tape probably would do Pussygrabber in, but for the most part we heard crickets from the Repugnican Party on that one. Now, though, we’re hearing even from the likes of Laura Bush that separating non-citizen children from their parents and keeping them in cages is a shitty fucking thing to do.

Even the perpetrators of this latest evil have admitted, sideways, that it’s evil, because they continue to knowingly falsely blame the Pussygrabber regime’s entirely voluntary policies and procedures on the Democrats.

And Homeland Security head Nazi Kirstjen Nielsen recently proclaimed: “We cannot detain children with their parents. So we must either release both the parents and the children — this is the historic get-out-of-jail-free practice of the previous administration [blame the Democrats!] — or the adult and the minor will be separated as a result of prosecuting the adult.

“Those are the only two options. Surely, it is the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body who makes the laws — rather than changing them — asks the body who enforces the laws not to enforce the laws.”

Here we see again the Nazi-like false, propagandistic claim that we have “only two options” (in this case, not separating children from their parents only for the “crime” of illegally entering the U.S. entirely is an option) and the Nazi-like attempt to fall back on “law-and-order” bullshit in order to try to justify doing evil to other human beings.

When the law results in the pain and suffering of innocent human beings, fuck the law. The law is made for and should serve human beings — NOT vice-fucking-versa.

We allow neo-Nazis like “President” Pussygrabber, Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, Pussygrabber puppeteer Stephen Miller and Homeland Security boss Kirstjen Nielsen to hide behind “law and order” at our own peril; they can try to use “the law” against the rest of us at any time. (First, they came for the undocumented, brown-skinned immigrants…)

P.P.S. Finally, I should note that of course the fictional space station Elysium and “President” Pussygrabber’s proposed Great Wall serve the same purpose: to keep the rich and over-privileged — and mostly white — people safe from having to share any of their (well, “their”) shit with the poorer, often-brown-skinned “others.”**

This is why Pussygrabber’s wall hasn’t faced the backlash that it should have: many, mostly white, Americans are fully on board with protecting — and growing — what they (we) have while others continue to suffer without (and make no mistake: our selfish excess most definitely comes at their loss).

We don’t want to admit that (our selfishness, our materialism, our racism, our xenophobia, our tribalism, our heartlessness, our willful blindness, etc.) outright, so we talk about “law and order” instead in order to try to make our motives appear to be much, much higher than they actually are.

And we call ourselves “Christians.”

P.P.P.S. Seriously, here is a photo of U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen —

Kirstjen-Nielson-rtr-img

Reuters news photo

— and here is Jodie Foster as Elysium’s head of security:

Image result for Jodie Foster Elysium

Give Nielsen a haircut and we’re there.

Seriously, though, while there are calls for Nielsen to resign — and I think that she should resign — why would the cadre of stupid white men who gave her her marching orders get to keep their jobs?

Nielsen is nauseating, but all of the Nazis in the occupied White House need to go. Just one token head rolling won’t do, and methinks that a focus on Nielsen’s removal only whiffs of sexism, as much as I don’t want to defend Nielsen in regards to anything.

*No, I don’t advocate paying people to get sterilized or to use contraception or to get an abortion. That would open up a huge ol’ can of worms. But there is no good reason not to provide birth control for free to those who want it, and with a reduced population, or at least with a population whose growth rate is being managed, quality of life for everyone would improve.

And, of course, the Catholick church, which has demonstrated amply how much it truly cares about children, can and should go fuck itself. I see precious little difference between right-wing “Christians” trying to dictate the law for everyone and Sharia law. Both are theofascist.

**In my review of “Elysium” I compared the space station to our gated communities. Of course, Pussygrabber’s Great Wall would just make the entire nation one big gated community.

It’s much easier to build even a ginormous gated community that an exclusive, humongous space station, but hey, with a/the “space force,” maybe a real-life Elysium is in the cards…

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(50 million to) 80 million Americans vanish without a trace!

Generational Leapfrog

An August 2000 editorial cartoon by progressive Gen Xer Ted Rall. (Another, even earlier toon by Rall on this topic is here.)

When I saw a little while ago that the new book The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, which I (probably stupidly) since bought via amazon.com (I just opened the package today), very apparently pretends that those of us of Generation X don’t even fucking exist, I thought of my fellow progressive Gen Xer Ted Rall and his quite correct labeling of us Xers as victims of “generational leapfrog.”

Prompted by what I had read of The Next America on amazon.com, I was going to blog on my thoughts on my generation’s exclusion from the national discussion as though Winston Smith, working at the Ministry of Truth, had simply erased all mention of us, but now, I see, Rall (thankfully) has written a column on the topic, so, at the risk of violating copyright law, I am posting Rall’s column in full at the end of this post (I don’t think that he would mind), because he echoes my thoughts and feelings.

Not only does the title of this latest book about generations of Americans, which sits at No. 239 on amazon.com as I compose this sentence, exclude my generation entirely, but in the preface of the book — in which the author (shockingly!) identifies himself as a baby boomer — my generation is ignored. In the preface, the baby-boomer author, one Paul Taylor, proclaims:

… This book … pays particular attention to our two outsize generations — the Baby Boomers, fifty- and sixty-somethings having trouble coming to terms with getting old, and the Millennials, twenty-somethings having trouble finding the road map to adulthood. It looks at their competing interests in the big showdown over entitlement reform that our politicians, much as they might try, won’t be able to put off for much longer. …

So why has baby boomer (yeah, I don’t capitalize the term, since that might imply respect, which in this case is undeserved) Taylor disappeared (as Ted Rall accurately put it in his latest column) my entire generation?

And let me first interrupt myself to tell you that my generation actually isn’t all that tiny, with an estimated more than 80 million Americans being Xers, for fuck’s sake, while the figure for the number of baby boomers who were born apparently is around 76 million, and it is estimated that about 80 million Americans are members of Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials).

Yes, there was a baby boom when the boomers were belched from the bowels of hell and into the world from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s (yes, Barack Obama is a [late] baby boomer; we’ve yet to have a Gen-X president [and we very well might not ever have one]), but American population (despite advances in birth control) has climbed steadily since the boomers made their unfortunate entrance, which, I surmise, would explain why all three generations actually have been roughly the same in size, despite Taylor’s assertion that only his generation and the Millennials are worth discussing because they are “outsize.”

(The cover of the book says that it is authored by “Paul Taylor and the Pew Research Center.” Wow. You’d think the folks at the Pew Research Center would have caught the mistake or even the lie that we Gen Xers are so tiny a cohort that we’re not worth discussing. Seriously — this “oversight” has harmed Pew Research Center’s reputation, in my mind.)

Back to what I was saying: So why would baby boomer Paul Taylor exclude my generation almost entirely from his book that is supposed to be a part of the national discussion?

Well, of course it’s easier to discuss only two generations instead of three. So yes, some laziness definitely might have been involved.

But the larger part of it, I believe, is that the baby boomers in general — and we very apparently cannot exclude Taylor from that cohort, based not only upon his age but also based upon his brand of inter-generational politics — long have treated us Xers as though we didn’t exist.

Indeed, one of Ted Rall’s most successful books is his 1998 Revenge of the Latchkey Kids, one of the first, if not the first, Gen-X manifesto.

I was born to boomers and I certainly was a latchkey kid. I won’t go into detail that only will make others (especially boomers) accuse me of being a whiner who blames everything on his parents (for the record, I blame much on them, but not everything on them), but yeah, while the boomers were the cherished children of the American men who had survived World War II and come home to inseminate their wives and while the Millennials were the cherished children (largely if not mostly of boomers) replete with “Baby on Board” signs, we X’ers were, to put it mildly, not cherished. There were no “Baby on Board” signs, no car seats for us. Our parents were not, for the very most part, “helicopter parents.” No, they were more like invisible parents. As Rall stated correctly many years ago, we Xers, overall, were latchkey kids. We were largely left to raise ourselves.

I suspect that this is why we are ignored by the dominant generation, the boomers (almost all seats of power in the U.S. still are filled by boomers, who hold on to their seats of power with death grips, like U.S. Supreme Court justices): they always have ignored us, so why begin to acknowledge our inconvenient existence now?

Also, if any of the boomers are actually even capable of feeling anything remotely like guilt, maybe they have at least a dim awareness that they failed us Xers, their children, miserably, that they are the first generation in the history of the United States to have had it better themselves than their children have had it, and therefore, in order to avoid feeling guilty — because boomers were raised by the so-called “greatest generation” to believe that they are entitled to feel only great about themselves all of the fucking time (a “value” that the boomers seemed to have imparted to many if not most of the Millennials) — they do their best not to think about us Xers at all.

All of my legitimate generational grievances aside, there is no way that you can write a responsibly comprehensive book about the problems that loom over the United States of America without discussing an entire generation of Americans. (OK, to be fair, there are some entries for “Generation X” in the index of The Next America, which I have not read because I just opened the package today, but very apparently the book glosses over Gen X for a much more detailed discussion about the boomers and the Millennials.)

We Xers care about, we are affected by and we affect Social Security, Medicare, retirement security, income inequality, climate change, human rights, social justice, politics, overpopulation, etc., etc., and while millions want to simply ignore us (and so do simply ignore us) because to do so fits their own selfish political agendas, we Gen Xers are right fucking here, tens of millions of us — whether the generation that precedes us and the generation that follows us (and, tragically, they have so many characteristics in common) wish to see us or not.

Now: Here is Rall’s column, with my comments inserted in [brackets]:

I’ve been disappeared.

Erased from history.

Dropped down the memory hole.

(bye)

If you were born between 1961 and 1976, you no longer exist. [Exact definitions of Gen X vary. In my book, Gen X begins around 1962 to 1964. 1961 is a bit early, in my book. And I would extend Gen X at least to those born in 1980.]

Generation X has been disappeared.

The Soviets altered photos to excise the images of leaders who had fallen out of favor, but communist censors went after individuals.

America’s corporate media is more ambitious. They’re turning 50 million people into unpersons. [Again, I see figures that put Gen X at least at 80 million, but even only 50 million people, if Rall’s figure indeed is closer to the actual figure, still is a large chunk of the national population of more than 317 million.]

The disappearing of Gen X began about a year ago, when major news outlets began reducing living Americans to two generations: the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1960) and their children, the Millennials (born approximately 1977-2004).

[I would include 1945, and perhaps also 1944, for the boomers, and I probably wouldn’t start the Millennials earlier than 1980. Again, these generational demarcations vary from person to person. To me, personal characteristics and worldview are important, too, not strictly the year in which one was born, perhaps especially in those generationally cuspy situations. (My husband, for instance, born in 1962, while on the cusp of the boomers and the Xers, has more Xer characteristics than boomer characteristics; otherwise, he wouldn’t be my husband…)]

(Generational birth years are controversial. Many classify the Boom years between 1946 and 1964, but I agree with the demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe’s assessment — and the novelist Douglas Coupland, who defined the term “Generation X” — that people like me, born from ’61 to ’64, called “the most dysfunctional cohort of the century,” identify with the culture and economic fortunes of Xers, not the Boom.)

The unpersoning of X takes full bloom in “Wooing a New Generation of Museum Patrons,” a March 19, 2014, piece in The New York Times about how museums like the Guggenheim are soliciting money from “a select group of young donors already contributing at a high level.”

Take your gum/joint/food out of your mouth before reading further, lest you gag: “Several hundred Millennials mingled under the soaring atrium of the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue one recent frigid February night. Weaving around them were black-clad servers bearing silver trays piled high with doughnuts, while a pixieish D.J. spun Daft Punk remixes.”

According to the Times’ David Gelles (playing the role of Winston Smith): “Across the country, museums large and small are preparing for the eventual passing of the baton from the Baby Boom generation, which for decades has been the lifeblood not only of individual giving but of boardroom leadership. Yet it is far from clear whether the children of Baby Boomers are prepared to replicate the efforts of their parents.”

Gelles’ piece doesn’t contain any reference to Generation X.

Really? Museums don’t give a crap about would-be philanthropists among the millionaires born between 1961 and 1976?

By the way, Xers were into Daft Punk before Millennials were even done being born.

Boomer/Millennial articles that ignore the existence of Xers have become commonplace. Again in The New York TimesEmily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer L. Aaker perform the neat trick of disappearing one-sixth of the country. Their November 30, 2013, op/ed about “Millennial Searchers” for the meaning of life asks about Millennials: “Do we have a lost generation on our hands?”

Substitute “1991” for “2008” and everything Smith and Aaker write could be, and was written about Gen X: “Yet since the Great Recession of 2008, they have been having a hard time. They are facing one of the worst job markets in decades. They are in debt. Many of them are unemployed. The income gap between old and young Americans is widening.”

Even in an essay about humanity’s search for meaning — and about the downward mobility that defines Gen X — there is only room for Boomers and Millennials.

It’s like our crappy economy and low wages and student loan debt never even happened. [Infuckingdeed. As I’ve noted here before, it’s incredibly interesting that our Gen Xers’ crippling student-loan debt and lack of decent jobs never were considered to be newsworthy at all, but that those problems sure the fuck are today, now that they are affecting the precious “Baby-on-Board” crowd.]

“No one’s talkin’ ’bout my generation,” notes columnist M.J. Fine, a Generation Xer. “It’s hard to think of an era in which people ages 34-49 had less social currency.”

Remember the great coming clash over Social Security between Boomers and Xers? We’ve vanished from that narrative too, not just in a thousand words but over the course of a full-length book: The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown.

It’s not just the Times. In Sonya Stinson’s frivolous “What Gen Y Can Teach Boomers About Financial Planning” in Forbes, Gen X neither learns nor teaches. Gen X doesn’t exist.

Poof!

I saved the worst for last. Courtesy of a sharp-eyed reader, check out PBS’ Judy Woodruff, defining the generations for a NewsHour interview with the author of The Next America:

I just want to remind everybody what those age groups are, the Millennials, 18 to 33 years old today, Gen X, 34 to 39 [years old] today, the Boomers, 50 — the big group — 50 to 68 [years old], and the Silent [Generation], 69 to 86 [years old].

In PBS World, Gen X has shrunk. If you’re in your forties, you no longer have a generational home.

Life begins at 40?

[To be fair, I listened to the PBS clip, and in it Woodruff clearly says “Gen X, 34 to 49″ years old. The transcript, however, reads “34 to 39” years old, an apparent typo.]

More like the empty void of generational purgatory, as far as the Boomer-controlled media is concerned.

Indeed, the No. 1 reason that we Gen Xers have been so successfully disappeared is that the boomers have controlled the media, and thus the national discussion, for most of our lives. The powers that be want us to be non-existent, and the powers that be mostly still are boomers and they still mostly control the media, and thus they still mostly monopolize the national discussion.

But actually, as much as I have complained about the unfairness and the insanity of it, I think that I would take my “generational purgatory” (an apt description of Gen X) over the unearned and undeserved attention and rewards that the boomers and the Millennials have received.

Having been left to raise ourselves to such a degree and having been systematically and even institutionally ignored and passed over — and, indeed, having been shit and pissed upon — our entire fucking lives, we Gen Xers have, out of necessity, developed strength, resilience and self-reliance that most members of the pretty fucking awful, overprivileged generations that immediately precede us and immediately follow us never will possess.*

And who wants to be a member of a generation whose collective personality is like that of Nellie Olesen? (OK, the boomers and the Millennials do, but that was a rhetorical question.)

Gen X still rules — not literally, not sociopolitically, but where it really counts — which is why we’re so widely ignored by the two generations that don’t hold a candle to us.

*That said, while the boomers have been a lost fucking cause for a long, long time, and will take their generational assholery with them to their graves and urns, I suppose that the Millennials still have enough time to not become just like their baby-boomer examples.

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Greatness eludes ‘Elysium,’ but Blomkamp is getting better

Film review

This film image released by Columbia Pictures-Sony shows director Neill Blomkamp, left, and Matt Damon on the set of "Elysium." The film, opening nationwide on Aug. 9, is a rogue burst of originality _ a futuristic popcorn adventure loaded with contemporary themes of wealth discrepancy, immigration and health care. (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures, TriStar, Kimberly French)

Associated Press image

Writer and director Neill Blomkamp directs Matt Damon on a set of “Elysium,” Blomkamp’s second big entry into the sci-fi genre.

Like his “District 9,” writer and director Neill Blomkamp’s “Elysium” is a worthwhile and entertaining but imperfect sci-fi venture in which Blomkamp takes the opportunity to inject social justice.

“Elysium” hits much closer to home here in the United States than “District 9,” which is set in Blomkamp’s native South Africa, did, however.

“Elysium” takes on at least four large American sociopolitical issues: immigration, class-based access to health care, the environmental degradation of planet Earth, and the phenomenon of the gated community, which is a euphemism for what actually are becoming privately militarized compounds as the filthy rich get richer and the rest of us get poorer and the rich want to keep the shit that they’ve stolen from us safe from us.

Set in the year 2154, in “Elysium” Matt Damon plays Max, a member of the poor working class in a future Los Angeles whose residents speak both English and Spanish. Most of Max’s companions, including his best friend Julio (played by Diego Luna) and his love interest Frey (played by Alice Braga), are Latino.

Like poor Mexicans attempt to get into the United States (although not nearly with the same frequency since the U.S. economy crashed and burned, like everything else did, under the watch of George W. Bush), poor and desperate Earthlings attempt, via spacecraft, to get into Elysium, the name of the gargantuan wheel-like space station that orbits Earth in space like the moon, and that like the moon, is visible on Earth. (The full backstory of the construction of Elysium is not given in “Elysium”; like the moon, it’s just taken as a given, which is OK, since we don’t really need the backstory anyway, since we already have a very good sense of how Elysium came to be.)

Protecting Elysium from the poor and desperate Earthlings who wish to reach it — the “illegals” — is the space-station plutocrats’ defense secretary, the sometimes-French-speaking Delacourt (an icy Jodie Foster) and legions of humanoid robots that keep the “illegals” (who even on Earth are deemed “illegals,” because they are not allowed admittance to Elysium) in line, mostly on Earth but also on Elysium should any of the “illegals” actually make it to Elysium.

Max, whose job is in a factory that manufactures the robots that keep the “illegals” in line, is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation while on the job — there is no OSHA in Blomkamp’s dystopian Los Angeles — and is given five days to live, and he finds out that Frey’s daughter has terminal leukemia.

The elites on Elysium have the automatized technology to cure a human being of any malady (as long as he or she is still alive, anyway), and Max’s underground associate Spider (Wagner Moura), who is a futuristic coyote, has a plan that could take Elysium down, and so the film takes off from there.

True, as others have noted, “Elysium” does go off the rails a bit, as it goes from a social-consciousness movie into a typical Hollywood action flick, but then, it more or less saves itself at the end, when it returns to its social-consciousness beginning.

Matt Damon carries “Elysium” well. He is a reliable workhorse of an actor. And as his own sociopolitical views lean strongly leftward, my guess is that he infused his performance with the sense that with Blomkamp he is furthering good causes (because, methinks, he is).

I found Jodie Foster’s performance, however, to be remarkably stilted and lifeless. I mean, she was nominated four times for the Best Actress Oscar and won twice. Foster’s character is supposed to be icy, I get that, but Foster nonetheless seems to have phoned it in. Some of this might be Blomkamp’s fault, however; as we get no backstory on or real development of Foster’s character, perhaps the two-dimensional portrayal is about the best that she could do.

And while Blomkamp apparently likes Sharlto Copley enough to have put the star of “District 9” in “Elysium” as well, Copley’s villainous Kruger, a mercenary who is on Delacourt’s payroll, is, as others have noted, over the top. Indeed, this villain, when compared to the other characters in the film, even that of Delacourt but perhaps especially that of Max, seems to have been cut and pasted from another film entirely… (Ditto for Kruger’s immediate associates, who also seem like refugees from a “Mad Max” movie.)

And like “District 9” does, “Elysium” suffers from some inconsistencies and some explanations that don’t make sense, as though Blomkamp hadn’t really thought all of it out.

The ubiquitous humanoid robots that keep the “illegals” in line on Earth suddenly go mostly or even entirely missing when the action moves from Earth to Elysium, and while our protagonists and antagonists battle it out on Elysium, I found myself asking myself, “Where the hell are all of the robots? They’re all over Earth, but they’re missing in action on Elysium?”

Apparently a “reboot” of Elysium’s “core” (its central computer) somehow is going to remove President Patel (Faran Tahir) — whom the right-wing, merciless Delacourt despises because she considers him to be too soft and too merciful toward the “illegals” (whose spacecraft she just wants to blow from the sky as they try to reach Elysium, without exception) — and, presumably, put Delacourt in the deposed Patel’s place.

How, exactly, the mere rebooting of a central computer would achieve that change of guard, Blomkamp doesn’t explain. Nor does he explain how the mere reprogramming of Elysium’s “core” to recognize all Earthlings as citizens of Elysium would magically mandate that all Earthlings automatically are to receive the level of medical care that the denizens of Elysium get.

I mean, it’s not like reprogramming a computer, no matter how powerful it is, is the same as reprogramming human beings. (That said, the craniums of the denizens of Elysium apparently are linked with implanted, wireless circuitry that at the least allows them to communicate hands free [Google and/or Apple is/are working on this right now, right?], and there is a character [a CEO whose corporation Max works for, played by William Fichtner] who, much like how R2-D2 held the plans to the Death Star, holds the plans to “reboot” Elysium inside of the small computer that is implanted in his head, where he has downloaded the plans, but, presumably, the over-privileged denizens of Elysium cannot be reprogrammed into believing that they actually had elected someone else as their president or that the destitute denizens of Earth suddenly now are their sociopolitical equals.)

Also, if we are to buy the central premise of “Elysium” — which is that the rich and the powerful tiny minority (the 1 percent, if you will) have fled the increasingly overpopulated, diseased and polluted Earth for their own mega-gated community in the sky, and that they have done this in order to protect and to preserve the limited, apparently scarce reserves of life-enhancing things for themselves — then how can we buy “Elysium’s” ending, which apparently portrays the 1 percent’s hoarded resources, or at least their hoarded medical-care resources, as being enough to serve at least the entire area of Los Angeles, but apparently even the entire Earth?

This does not compute…

Still, despite “Elysium’s” flaws, it’s a more than watchable film, it’s an improvement over “District 9” (and so Blomkamp seems to have a promising career ahead of him), and it’s great, of course, to see a mainstream film take a socialist-y stance on current hot topics such as immigration, access to medical care, environmentalism, and, of course, the ugly phenomenon of the gated community, which is but a manifestation of the insanely great class division that we see in the United States of America today.

I don’t expect American wingnuts to love this film, and that’s a great thing.

My grade: B+  

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