Elysium

Just saw the movie Elysium and I thought it was great. There were a few ideas that the movie shared though that some people, especially critics, did not agree with.

They make the concept of the (super) rich building a space station where they can get away from the poverty and filth and other undesirable living conditions to preserve their way of life seem outlandish if not quite ridiculous. I live in South Africa and although the rich are not building space stations quite yet they are trying very hard to preserve their way of life in other ways. This is how progress in SA works: You get a child growing up in the township much like what you see depicted in both Elysium and District 9 (no surprise here since Neil Blomkamp is South African) in relative poverty; that child if he or she is lucky enough is gifted intellectually or on the sports field or just very hard working and therefore manages to work their way out of the township; this person has now joined the middle class so they move to the suburbs. At the same time with growing urbanisation the poor start building their homes close to these suburbs, their homes being shacks of course, the poor cannot afford brick houses. The existence of these shacks is an eyesore for the rich who prefer their views from the bedroom window to be that little stream from the lake, or the beach or that lovely grassy hill that the sun rises out of in the mornings. It is also a heavy blow to property value seen by the rich as an investment and the not-so-rich as a roof over their and a place to lay their tired bodies after a day at work (or looking for work but we’re getting too political here – back to the point). And having lived in relative security all this time due to the fact that in the previous administration the rich and poor were very nicely separated, they start being exposed to crime. So they move out and sell their home to, well the new middle class (which if you are paying attention is the group of people from the township). These guys don’t mind one or two shacks here or there. A bit of crime although annoying is not a deterrent either. If anything, it’s better than where they come from. So they move in. The rich pool their resources together and build a nice new gated community with security and such exorbitantly high property prices that in and around the area that they have all but guarantee their way of life, at least in their homes. The problem is that everyone aspires to better and more. It is the human condition. Being in the middle class is only fashionable for so long until you aspire to more. You become tire of the crime eventually; you decide you don’t want to expose your kids to any crime. So you work harder, earn more money, start your own business and before the rich know it you have moved into the gated community with your middle class tendencies. Is it so farfetched that the super-rich will one day find a way to elevate themselves to apposition that is truly unattainable? If we are building millionaires faster than we are getting rid the truly despot, the poor will eventually overrun the rich. Real estate is limited if you hadn’t noticed. Unless they go to space. Simplistic view but you get the point.

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