Is Elysium Biased?
Conservatives Forced to Confront the World Their Ideology Creates
Blog ››› ››› ARI RABIN-HAVT
Neill Blomkamp's sci-fi summer action film Elysium is raising hackles in the conservative media.
Set 140 years in the future, the rich have relocated off a crowded and polluted Earth and live life isolated on a space station called Elysium, filled with plenty of greenery, large homes, private security, and most importantly, a machine that can cure all medical issues -- technology not available to anyone not a citizen of Elysium. This paradise exists only a quick 19-minute shuttle flight away from Earth; with no hope of breaking the class barriers, immigrants attempt to sneak onto the space station in rickety and dangerous shuttles. Most of them are killed in the process, and those who make it there alive are instantly sent back to Earth.
Rush Limbaugh denounced Elysium as "a full-fledged anti-capitalist, pro-socialism movie" before expressing anger that the filmmakers and star Matt Damon deny there's political bias in the film.
At the Daily Caller, R.J. Moeller wrote that Damon and Blomkamp "know that the movie-going audience is primarily comprised of 12-21 year old boys who wouldn't know socialist propaganda if it spit in their Monster energy drink."
By contrast, progressive culture critic Alyssa Rosenberg wrote that, far from a political screed, Elyisum "fails in its mission to speak truth to power." The film never discusses the causes of inequality nor advocates real solutions to the problem. The right's real objection to Elyisum is that the very nature of the economic disparity at the heart of the story illustrates a world suffering the consequences of the policies conservatives advocate.
They advocate a health care system ruled by wealth, in which those who can't afford lifesaving treatment would be denied it. While Elysium's healing beds doesn't exist, drugs that treat colon, breast, and lung cancer can cost patients as much as $100,000 -- and even those with insurance can face copays as high as $20,000, putting these cures out of reach for many in the middle class. Looking outside the borders of the United States, the abuse of patent laws by drug makers put life-saving medicines financially out of bounds for millions around the world.
Sonny Bunch at the Washington Free Beacon takes the conservative analysis of the film a step further, arguing that the real heroes of the movie are the elite inhabitants of the space station. He defends the "questionable actions" of certain citizens of Elysium "to defend what is theirs" because "they have good reason to be afraid" of the "criminals and bandits" that "storm their celestial gates." Just as today's right might defend a gun-toting man in a gated community who shoots an unarmed 17-year-old boy.
Conservatives aren't angered by the political subtext they see in Elysium. They're angry that it's an accurate portrayal of the world their ideology will ultimately create -- and that is a reality they cannot confront.