[film] Soylent Green
This week we have thought nothing but green thoughts. But enough is enough. After all, we can only reiterate our impending doom so many times before you get fed up and reach for some tawdry tabloid. So in this space we aim to shed the green that denotes apocalyptic avoidance in favor of less green, um, pastures. After this, that is: Soylent Green is one of the most heavily trafficked dystopian flicks on record (I’ll save you some time: it’s people. You’re welcome.) It’s set in the year 2022, which is just around the corner, really. While most films set half a century in the future are often hilariously off the mark, this one might be scarily spot-on in places. It stars my president (Charlton Heston) as a detective in New York, a city with a population that has grown to 40 million starving people. Only the super rich can afford real food and women are “furniture” that come with an apartment. Even more swiftly approaching than 2022, according to the Internet Movie Database, is the remake of this flick, tentatively slated for release in 2012. Scary.
[album] Village Green Preservation Society
Fortunately this classic album brings us a few strides further away from thoughts of nuclear holocausts and zombie apocalypses…or does it? Yeah, it does. One of the best things about The Kinks was their ability to be a little nostalgic while maintaining a hard line of biting satire. This record is a case-in-point. The loose and overarching narrative is one that hearkens back to a similar place and time, an England that frontman Ray Davies, ironically, seems to know did not actually exist. Ever. The song “Do You Remember Walter?” is an epistle to a childhood friend, one with whom he would sneak cigarettes but who is now probably fat and married. “Picture Book” is perhaps the album’s most addictively catchy track, and has unfortunately been used in a commercial or two. The tune “Big Sky” is momentous and deceptively simple. The message here is one of hanging on despite human cruelty and feelings of insignificance. Village Green is one of those records you listen to for the gestalt of it. Although it’s more than the sum of its parts, most of the tracks stand quite well on their own.
[book] The Quiet American
So even though we’ve moved away from greenness in the sense that we’ve avoided environmental friendliness as a theme—we’ve taken green out of the title and referenced an author who uses an alternate spelling of the word—we still come back to the same questions. Greene wrote this novel in 1955, well before the American presence in Vietnam stepped out of the shadows. The protagonist is a heavily sedated journalist who is intent on remaining unattached until the turmoil outside his door impacts his love. The antagonist is a soft-spoken and intellectual young American who defies the obnoxious American stereotype. He shows up in Vietnam as a covert agent and speaks of the need for a “third force,” one that supersedes colonialism and communism. At the core of this novel is a dilemma journalists often face: the choice between remaining unattached and “objective” and becoming actively involved in events. It all depends on whether or not one believes that objectivity, in the strictest sense of the word, is possible (it’s not). MTW