One of these men played the unscrupulous Hong Kong money man in The Dark Knight. The other was a noble if frazzled scientist in The Martian. Both are fantastic actors, but only one is slated to appear as Wong opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the upcoming Dr. Strange.
In the year 2093, a small group of scientists and mercenaries engage on a manned, multi-billion dollar, multi-year space voyage in an unarmed exploration vessel hurtling towards an arguably arbitrary point in space in hopes of finding the aliens who seeded life on Earth millions of years ago.
Forgive me for saying this, but that is some White people shit.
Disclaimer: First of all, spoiler alert. This post is about the recent movie ‘Prometheus’; it will spoil major plot points, so please do not read any further if you plan on seeing the movie first. Secondly, I haven’t seen the ‘Aliens’ trilogy, so this post will treat ‘Prometheus’ as a stand-alone movie. I know, I know — I’m a terrible geek.
Okay, so, I’m not really saying that White people in general do some stupid shit. But, that does seem to be the take-home message of “Prometheus”. From the movie, we can conclude a couple of things about Earth in 2093: 1) the world is decidedly not post-racial, and 2) White people have the leisure time and resources to do some pretty stupid shit.
So, the whole mission starts when a couple of scientists are excavating the Isle of Man and they discover some cave paintings of a really big man pointing at a cluster of six stars. This supposedly matches other artwork done by other ancient cultures. This prompts our protagonists — archaelogists Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her beau, Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) — to make the most breath-taking and spectacularly unscientific conclusions about their data that has ever occurred in the history of science, real or imaginary. They decide that the multiple instances of these images in distant ancient cultures can only mean that 1) a band of gigantic, humanoid aliens created human life on Earth, and 2) that the images are an “invitation” for humans to journey to a single spot in the universe where six stars resemble the configuration in the cave painting, where they will presumably find our extraterrestrial Creators, alive and eagerly awaiting our triumphant return.
Understandably, our two archaelogist heroes couldn’t get public funding to mount an excavation to the stars. (The accompanying scene where they get laughed out of the national science academy will probably be included in the special collector’s edition on Blu-Ray.) But luckily, a private industry mogul named Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce aged to about 357 years old using latex prosthetics and the magic of Hollywood) gives our scientists a bajillion-quadrillian-googlezamillion dollars to basically do whatever they want in pursuit of these alleged Creator aliens.
Anyways, so now our fearless scientsts are armed with more money than there are bathtubs in the world to put them. And so they undertake the task of figuring out what to do with all that cash.
After an undisclosed amount of time, the design of their mission is presented:
1) Despite the fact that there are literally billions of stars in our galaxy, and the fact that they are moving, our scientists are somehow able to pinpoint a single spot in the galaxy that they believe corresponds to the star configuration depicted in their pictographs.
2) The Creator planet is Really Fucking Far Away ™. Like, lightyears away far. So, rather than to opt to launch an unmanned probe to this unexplored, potentially dangerous region of space (thereby rendering the intervening three years of space travel a productive time), our hapless scientists decide that a manned mission — with a built-in minimum 6 year commute time to and from this point in space — is a completely reasonable first stab at this project. Further, this manned mission will be conducted on an “exploration vessel”, which lacks any form of weapons, whatsoever.
3) Mission crew will be placed into suspended animation for the 6 year travel time to the Creator Planet, a process which is apparently extremely dangerous: standard recovery procedures include confusion and nausea, and apparently some loss of life is expected. Yet, despite the high mortality rate associated with the suspended animation process, and despite the fact that our crew is travelling Really Fucking Far Away ™ from Earth, and thus away from all other humans, the mission opts to staff itself with only seventeen crew members (and no redundancy within their staff). Need a geologist? Let’s hire one. Need a xenobiologist? Yeah, we only need one. Medics? I’m not even sure the crew even had one trained doctor. If one of them dies? Oh well, I guess we won’t need a replacement goddammed xenobiologist on this mission to an alien planet!
As for non-scientist personnel on the crew, we have Michael Fassbender as David, an android, and Charlize Theron, playing the supremely bitchy (and I mean it, they made her character completely unlikeable) Meredith Vickers (daughter to Peter Weyland), who we know is supposed to be a hard-ass because the first thing she does when she wakes up from suspended animation is push-ups. Badly.
And then, we have the ship’s piloting crew: mercenaries who include the captain of the ship Janek (Idris Elba) and his bridge crew, Ravel (Bernard Wong) and Chance (Emun Elliott).
So, let me get this straight, in the world of Prometheus, the highly-trained scientists look like this:
The wealthy Weyland staff members, Meredith Vickers, and her pet robot, David, who are basically in charge of the mission (because they hold the pursestrings), look like this:
And the underpaid, low-brow mercenaries whose main job it is to keep the ship pointed in the right direction, look like this:
There are 7 other crew members, but they basically look a lot like this.
In the world of Prometheus, the upper echelons of society, which include its academics and CEOs (Vickers stands to inherit Weyland Corp after her father, Peter Weyland, has died)) are exclusively White. Even the android, David, who was built in the image of the human ideal, is unflinchingly Aryan in appearance with a perfectly coifed helmet of blonde hair and stunning blue eyes (which was also to create a familial resemblance between him and his “sister”, played by Charlize Theron).
Meanwhile, the ship’s bridge crew — the only mercenaries who are named and granted any sort of dialogue — are predominantly non-White. They are clearly of a lower-class than the scientists: Ravel and Chance have a running gag wherein they are taking bets about what the purpose of their mission is. This suggests that they, along with their captain, are basically muscle-for-hire who have done many of these sorts of missions before, and are rarely intellectually invested in their mission goals. Further, it’s clear that they aren’t considered important enough to have received any pre-mission briefing, and are instead most interested in how much money they will earn.
(And yes, I realize that Emun Elliott is White; however, he’s only one out of three named mercenaries in the movie. Further, I wasn’t familiar with him, and he was made up to be fairly swarthy-looking in the movie; I actually thought he was non-White until I checked IMDB and Wikipedia for his biography).
In other words, the world of Prometheus is decidedly racialized. In the world of Prometheus, the White people are in charge. And, in the world of Prometheus, the White people do some really dumb shit.
This dumb shit includes (but is not limited to) the following, listed in no particular order: 1) wandering aimlessly through an alien tomb, in total darkness, even though the tomb has yet to be fully mapped; 2) taking off one’s helmet because there’s enough oxygen in the atmosphere, with complete disregard for the possibility of super-duper space germs; 3) touching everything in the alien tomb when you don’t know what it is, and bringing alien artifacts back to the ship; 4) throwing oneself into a deadly alien hailstorm that nearly rips you to pieces so that you can rescue a desiccated thousand-year old alien head that is just as likely to still be outside on the ground when the storm passes; 5) “resurrecting” a dead alien corpse, because it might be able to talk to you; 6) running around just hours after major abdominal surgery to remove an alien parasite; and, 7) consciously choosing to leave security personnel and weapons on your ship instead of bringing them on your first expedition onto an alien planet, because the Creators might interpret that as “hostile”.
Soon, all of the scientists are killed when it turns out that — surprise, surprise — the Creator aliens aren’t actually peaceful, happy-go-lucky, benevolent gods. Actually, they’re sociopathic killers.
Incidentally, if we needed more proof that the premise of Prometheus is that White people do some dumb shit: the Creator aliens’ master plan is to destroy Earth. How are they going to do it? Well, despite the fact that they have almost unfathomable alien tech, and could probably just nuke the entire planet into oblivion, they — inexplicably — choose to destroy Earth by sending a small ship with a cargohold of mysterious black goo that causes organic matter to hyper-evolve.
In other words, this advanced species of aliens’ master plan for the destruction of mankind is to evolve us to death.
That is some dumb-ass shit that is almost guaranteed to backfire. And when it does (resulting in the death of virtually all of the Creator aliens on the planet), the lone surviving Creator alien decides… that he’ll just try again! ‘Cuz it worked so well the first time!
Oh, and by the way, what do these Creator aliens look like?
It turns out that in the entire movie, the only people who aren’t stupidly rushing headlong into unnecessary danger are — you guessed it — the mercs. Janek and his crew spend most of the movie bemusedly watching everyone else go down onto the planet’s surface, while they conduct ship’s duties on the bridge.
About an hour and a half of frantic running-for-their-lives later, only Dr. Shaw, David, and Meredith Vickers are still alive… and, of course, the entire band of mercenaries.
As the surviving Creator alien blasts off in Earth’s direction with a cargohold full of deadly black goo, Janek and his crew are faced with a difficult choice: 1) head home, or 2) ram the alien vessel with the human spaceship and blow everybody up.
Guess which option is chosen?
In summary, Prometheus is a movie where the White people are rich, well-educated and intensely stupid. In fact, they aren’t just harmlessly stupid: a select cadre of White people rise above a level of mediocre stupid to achieve an unending cascade of collosal stupid that triggers both the possible destruction of the planet Earth at the hands of the Creator alien, and the birth of the man-eating alien species of the Alien Trilogy.
And Prometheus is also a movie where the Black guy, the Asian guy, and the swarthy-lookin’ Scottish dude save all of mankind as we know it. With ramming speed.