Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Socialist Utopia: Journey 2 The Mysterious Island

I am still working on The Dark Knight Rises; there is so much going on in the film that I just haven't been able to complete it and I do apologize! In the meantime, just a little appetizer to keep your appetites up!
I actually saw Brad Peyton's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island before it left the theater, but something about it puzzled me,... something about it eluded me,... something about it seemed incredible, incomprehensible, even, dare I say it? Nonsensical,... as I was sitting in front of a Redbox kiosk, my eyes skimming the titles to be rented, I was reminded of the unconquered challenge of this film--that I hadn't cracked its code, I hadn't mined its secrets, I hadn't delved into the magical mirror it was holding up for us--and then, like the Writing On the Wall of the Holy Spirit, I understood all: it was about socialist utopia. No wonder it didn't make any sense!  
Socialists dress up socialism to be a utopia to gain new followers, especially amongst the poor and lower-classes (symbolized by Gabato in the film), so the "power of the proletariat" will be unleashed and the upper-classes will be crushed, thus ushering in a new era of "social equality" and the fulfillment of all of one's needs, in a word, "perfect security." These are the facets of socialism which Journey 2 visualizes for its audience and then attacks, coming out firmly and decidedly on the side of capitalism (I am not saying that original author Jules Verne, upon whose work the film is based, is a socialist or anything like that, however, the film makers have aptly used his basic material as a vehicle for their own thoughts and ideas).
All art is encoded, but it's especially rewarding when the film makers "encode the codes" and include a sort of hand written invitation delivered on a silver platter to draw your attention to their own self-awareness. The code which Sean (Josh Hutcherson) receives from Alexander (Michael Caine) is a larger framework for the entire film because it's all encoded; who is it that solves the code? Hank (Dwayne Johnson) a former Marine.
What alerts us to this? The reason I couldn't "get it" until after seeing The Dark Knight Rises, and considering the upcoming The Bourne Legacy, and turning The Amazing Spider Man around and around, is because it does such a convincing job of illustrating the promises of socialism (which capitalists such as myself would never even consider as realistic for a moment) then shows where that leads: to the bottom of the sea.
In this picture just above, we see the entire problem the film presents: the island is sinking (just as America is sinking beneath the weight of its debt and unemployment). The island is sinking because of the natural rotation (which just happens to be a bit off) and we can see how this effects both capitalism and socialism. Capitalism has "pruning cycles" in which there are downturns that cleans the free market of bad credit and investments so it can get started again. Socialism has cycles, too, and socialism's cycles could be likened to fads or trends, because people only run to it when there is a downturn in a capitalist economy, then, as the economy picks up again, serious calls for socialism disappear.
Just off Sean's left shoulder, in the sea, you can see a vortex (there are several which you can see in the trailer above) but this begs the question: where else have we seen this same type of storm: Take Shelter. This gives us a great example (though sometimes confusing) how the exact same image can mean two different things: in Take Shelter, the storm is coming, in Journey 2, the storm has come which makes possible the island (socialist utopia) it protects. The multiple vortexes alerts us to how it was multiple elements which led to Obama getting elected and not just a single factor.
But there is another law of the island: everything normally big is small and everything small is unusually big, even gigantic, and that, too, is a wonderful scenario for socialism. The law that everything becomes really big or really small, in the obverse natural order, reflects how the upper-classes become "little people" in socialism and the "little people," the lower-classes, (are supposed to) become the "big people," the ones who own the factories and the means of production. It also reflects another grim truth of socialism: things which aren't important/taken for granted in our world today (like milk, toilet paper, deodorant, medicine, shoes, laundry detergent, etc.) become really, really important in socialism because they become scarce: the government's regulation of production means only what is absolutely necessary is produced and there is no surplus. On the other hand, there might be lots of airplanes, or wind turbines, solar panels, etc.,which are so common that they become "common place," or small, because no one ever thinks about them.
Yes, you can say that elephant symbolizes the Republican party: what is the Grand Old Party still today, would become a tiny, pitiful toy in a world of socialism. It also demonstrates what would happen, in a figurative sense, to the millionaires and billionaires, and not just the Mitt Romneys and Donald Trumps, but the Tim Burtons and Oprah Winfreys as well, even though they like to think of themselves as being immune from a socialist take-over which would confiscate their wealth as well (Christopher Nolan makes this point in The Dark Knight Rises).
Similarly, we can see in the storm the usual hallmarks of socialism: times become troubled in a country and a group of communists use the political/financial unrest to take over the government and establish a socialist state. Likewise, the flying of the helicopter through the hurricane/storm symbolizes the numerous storms at the end of the Bush Administration which made it possible for President Obama to tap into voter dissatisfaction (more on this in just a moment). But the island's rising and sinking, the mythical Atlantis, is the Utopian state which men seek after but never lasts, and while, like the island, it rises, socialism usually ends up falling right back into the sea; sometimes it takes longer, sometimes, not so long. 
This is the best image I could find of the "volcano of gold" which oozes gold lava (it's raining golden flecks in this picture). As we shall see in my next post on The Dark Knight Rises, one of the lies of socialism is getting the lower-classes to believe that everyone will be "equally rich" (spreading the wealth around) but what really happens is the government saves that wealth for itself for production costs and everyone ends up by being "equally poor" instead. The "volcano of gold" aptly describes how the government paints itself to the populace, that it's full of bounty and wants to give that bounty to one and all, but it always keeps it for itself.
One way to understand the film is that it's bookmarked by two important instances of capitalism surrounding the trip to and the escape from the "mysterious island" of Atlantis: the first is the negotiation for the price of the trip to the island, and the second is the successful business Gabato (Luis Guzman) starts up by recycling the Nautilus for tourists. Here's a clip of knowing your commodity and how to charge for it:
We can honestly say that this is bad capitalism because, as Hank suggests, the Titanic would be safer than their helicopter, hence, this is a terrible business deal for the consumer, whereas, contrariwise, in the end, it's a fantastic bargain for tourists and Gabato to take people on underwater tours in the Nautilus. What we have are two different "ships of state," which illustrates (again) how bad capitalist practices set up the "perfect storm" for socialism to enter the country and how, to some, it looks so appealing. YET, there is something which we just saw in The Amazing Spider Man also making an appearance in Journey 2: Godzilla.
Okay, granted, it's not Godzilla by name, and yet, a lizard like this--against the lizard man in The Amazing Spider Man, and the named references in that film--reminds us of the great reptile and his place in history, and, more importantly, how he got there. Godzilla was a catharsis for the Japanese because of the destruction caused by America when we dropped two atomic bombs on them, just as Steven Spielberg's giant shark Jaws was a catharsis for Americans because of the terror fighting World War II was for Americans. The giant lizards in these two films are ways of invoking the super-power status America had at the end of World War II and how we used that power and status to fight international communism (the same idea, expressed in different terms, are in nearly all the pro-capitalist films being released, such as The Avengers, Captain America, The Amazing Spider Man, Battleship, Cowboys and Aliens, etc.).
That's the gold spewing volcano in the background. In the clip above, Hank--as symbolic of the American military which won World War II--punches the lizard in the face to "deface" it. The "waling on eggs" is like "walking on thin ice" and, if you have seen The Dark Knight Rises, you know that, just as they walk on the thin egg shells in the clip above, so Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has to walk on thin ice, but we'll discuss that in my next post. The reason why Gabato "smells himself" just after Sean mentions how lizards have an incredible sense of smell is because, as a member of the lower class, and not being educated, he's the one the socialists factions are most likely to "sniff out" for membership in their party.
In other words, those eggs they walk upon (Gabato wanting to turn them into omelets symbolizes the "feeding of the lower-class" which socialism strives to do) the catastrophe that America brought upon Japan by dropping the two atomic bombs is NOW being brought upon us by our own government (if you have seen The Dark Knight Rises, you know about the "underground armies" working to "undermine the city" and how that's accurately reflecting what our government is doing today, sabotaging economic recovery so we will have to become socialist). But there is something the socialists haven't counted on, and we see this in The Avengers: voter dissatisfaction. In the clip below (it's not the complete clip, regrettably) the electric eel is both an enemy threatening their lives but is then used to re-start the ship's batteries:
The Nautilus is the "ship of state," the founding fathers, the Constitution, which the anti-Constitution socialists are trying to keep us from. The batteries of the ship however, need to be recharged--just like our love, affection and belief in the founding principles of this Republic--and the same voter dissatisfaction which voted in the destructive forces of Obama is the same voter dissatisfaction which can save America by using our power of the vote to jump-start the Constitution back to the guiding principle by which this country is governed.
In conclusion, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island really isn't mysterious at all once we put our nose to the grindstone and consider other elements, such as the island being in the Pacific ocean where America fought so many forces of socialism/communism, and how the dazzling promises of socialism may seem like heaven at first ("If this is heaven, check me in!") but it's unsustainable and sinking all the time. Journey 2 makes the important (and consistent thesis with other Hollywood films) that bad capitalism isn't good nor is socialism, because the one gives rise to the other. It does leave us with the hope, just like The Avengers, that the same forces which brought the socialists into power, can also be used to save the country: the power of the people's vote. Eat Your Art Out, The Fine Art Diner