Space movies are fun movies. Christmas 2016’s Passengers starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt intends to be that fun, spacey movie—but it also has romance.
The trailer debuted yesterday and, if you haven’t seen it, give it a watch. It’s below!
Now. Aside from this being a crass plug-and-play mashing of Sunshine with Silver Linings Playbook, there is quite a bit wrong with the movie. Let’s start with the premise, via Sony Picture Entertainment’s YouTube.
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are two passengers onboard a spaceship transporting them to a new life on another planet. The trip takes a deadly turn when their hibernation pods mysteriously wake them 90 years before they reach their destination. As Jim and Aurora try to unravel the mystery behind the malfunction, they begin to fall for each other, unable to deny their intense attraction… only to be threatened by the imminent collapse of the ship and the discovery of the truth behind why they woke up.
A few things, to set the scene.
These people are traveling in a giant craft that hibernates you for nearly a hundred years, something far from possible now, which means that this film would probably not be a reality for—What?—another two hundred years? And that’s a conservative guess as it’s probably more likely to be one thousand years. Moreover, this ship is carrying—What?—thousands, if not millions, of people? Or, if it’s just hundreds, this ship is just for rich Americans?
Let’s unpack from there.
• In this future movie, at a time way beyond when white people will become a minority, the only two people to “randomly” wake up from a ship of thousands are two beautiful white people. How is that possible?
• Moreover, these two white people are supposedly both cisgender performing male and female and blonde and beautiful in a future where gendering will be obsolete. Correct?
• And, at a time when bisexuality will be the majority, these two people are supposed to be…attracted to each other. I guess?
• Finally, on top of this, these white people save a fucking population of people, reenforcing the notion of white saviorism. That’s what’s going on, no?
Does this movie not feel bogus to anyone else, like great white heteronormative propaganda? Sure, yes, whatever: Hollywood only has “so many leading actors” who could carry this film. Say that all you want. What this feels like is some sort of Aryan future commercial in a distant future where Trump won and minorities of all forms were cut out of the equation. Even the fucking robot bartender is white!! The only minorities are sleeping friends, the obvious old wise black man in working uniform, and a gaggle of minorities in working uniforms, who stumble upon white people and shrug because they are billed without names? Is this movie a parody?
I’m all for future movies like this but, in 2016, this too is a form of white washing: the future is not white nor gendered nor straight. Why do we keep producing distant future films to reflect a dream of white hetereoness? It’s gross and, despite these two actors being “so cool,” this reenforces the grossness of positive media portrayals of whiteness. If you’re into this thing, cool, but know that it’s comforting popcorn film for conservative baby boomers to gawk at with future nostalgia over Christmas, for them to seek comfort in this future that never was and never will be.