The Island, directed by Michael Bay, is about a utopian society sealed-off from the rest of the world where participants live an idyllic life.
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The dark secret behind all the pleasantness though is that the whole system is part of a vast human cloning operation where residents of the isolated enclave are routinely harvested to prolong the lives of their well-to-do genetic donors.
The theme of The Island– nightmarish evil hidden beneath an attractive facade– is a recurring one in the arts– and in human experience. Niceties frequently cloak things that are anything but nice.
Evil advances when people accept nice facades at the expense of dealing with underlying ugliness. Germany was a mess until Hitler straightened it out– but no one should argue the improvements were worth the larger evil Hitler represented. Many experiences of the Germans were no doubt pleasant under Hitler, but the totality of all the “good” was no justification for any of the things Hitler had to keep hidden. The same principle applies to every happy circumstance constructed in public out of human misery experienced in secret.
Consider arguments for gender egalitarianism– the semantic interchangeability of maleness and femaleness. Many people have visceral reactions to stories of gender injustices. For them, the vision of being able to set aside questions of what it means to be a man or woman in favor of an “it makes no difference” answer is attractive. That vision is then backed up by a multitude of “how wonderful” stories about how well gender egalitarianism works.
Those stories, however, are the smaller truths that hide a larger reality. Behind all of the “how wonderful” stories lies a bigger reality that’s not so pleasant. The military’s loss of manliness, for example– in both image and in numbers– now makes use of women obligatory rather than discretionary. While the facade is that of choice, the reality is manipulation. Society must socialize women to want to be soldiers– failing that, they will be compelled.
Truth is, without a strong sense of gender, neither men nor women will willingly do the heroic kinds of things that keep families, and ultimately a society, going. The alternative is family breakdown, confused children, pathological lifestyles, and on and on.
Most important, and the one reality that silences all illusions of success, is the reality of abortion. In principle, gender egalitarianism demands women have the same opportunities for sexual promiscuity as men. In practice, it requires the killing of unwanted children.
That’s the ugly side of the illusion. Society pretends the sexes are interchangeable by politely ignoring, quietly discarding, or even harvesting the parts of human remains at local abortion clinics. Closing down those clinics would require the shattering of such pretense. It would mean dealing honestly with the differing natures and the differing moral demands of being a man and of being a woman.
The people on “The Island” didn’t know about the cloning. Most of the German people didn’t know about the details of Hitler’s camps. We, on the other hand, have no excuse for not knowing about the dark side of our cultural illusions.