More bad scifi

A little while ago I wrote about the state of biotech and how it was uniformly misrepresented in popular culture. Well, I’m not alone in lamenting the poor science that passes for plot development in today’s – and yesteryear’s – blockbusters.

First up today was the Mad Biologist’s attack on the monster from Cloverfield. Ironic, huh? I guess humans can’t pass on the opportunity for a fight… Anyway, scary as a 100 metre tall, ravenous denizen of the deep may be, it can’t compete with the simple fact that its proportions are unfeasible outside a supportive, watery environment. The article I’ve linked to is a really quick and entertaining read, and explains the root of the issue in a very simple and accessible fashion.

And this brought back to mind a significantly longer essay that I first read a couple of years ago. This one deals with a number of famous, older movies from the 50s and 60s when the spectre of a global nuclear exchange spawned an entire genre of films depicting giant mutant beasts laying waste to civilisation. These giant metaphors of humanity’s hubris were often vanquished by some heroically clever underdog-kind of person. But of course, the real story lies in the improbability of the physics and biology in these stories.

Anyway, the main point, I suppose, is that there is great value in being entertained by these films – they are entertaining and they do allow us to contextualise issues that might otherwise make us despair! – but audiences should never think them accurate.


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