once wrote a book in which I suggested that a celebrity might have been
framed for murder by his biggest fan. Another of my books contains an
interview with, and is a tribute to, an author who's been a major influence
on my own writing. So, when I tell you that I have been Steven Spielberg's
biggest fan, it's with an understanding that the relationship between
a fan and the object of his adoration contains the possibility of love
turning to hate.
that Steven Spielberg had individualist, romantic, and even libertarian
tendencies buried beneath the lip service he was always paying to Hollywood's
liberal causes. Sure, he was a supporter of gun-control causes, but
his friend John Milius told me once, while we were strolling through
the Great Western Gun Show, that Spielberg's personal arsenal contained
just about every gun the organizations he was funding wanted to ban,
and when Milius confronted Spielberg with the contradiction, Spielberg
replied, "John, gun control is strictly for them." That's not
the response of a liberal who believes that crap, I thought; and even
though it was hypocrisy in practice, it also had a flavor to me of a
Stirnerist anarchist who considered himself above ordinary law. I can
didn't mind as much as my compatriots in the Second Amendment movement
that in his masterful film adaptation of Schindler's List, Spielberg
left out the part where Oskar Schindler armed his factory Jews with
assault rifles he'd bought for them on the black market. After all,
I reasoned, Spielberg isn't an historian but a dramatist, and one of
the oldest rules of playwriting is that you don't bring out a gun unless
the plot intends for it to be fired. ("Don't show a gun in the first
act unless you intend to fire it in the third.") The Jews that Oskar
Schindler armed never had to use their guns to fight the Nazis. Spielberg,
as a dramatist, had a choice between falsifying history by leaving out
Schindler's guns, or falsifying history by having the Jews that Schindler
armed get into a fire-fight with the Nazis.
mind so much the choice Spielberg made since, after all, there was no
chance he would get his first Oscar if he had Oskar giving guns to Jews.
Look how Hollywood ignored The Patriot at Oscar time; half the
best picture Academy Awards have gone to historical epics of lesser
quality, but The Patriot wasn't even nominated because it portrays
a man giving his boys guns which they use, under his supervision, to
shoot the Redcoats whom a few minutes earlier murdered their brother
and torched their home.
have that in Hollywood, can we?
A.I. Artificial Intelligence, I had always thought of Spielberg's
movies as pro-individualist in the best sense of American movies. A
lone man, reviled by his neighbors, saves them from a vicious shark
in Jaws. A lone man, at the cost of his family, follows his inner
vision, which leads him to become the first human ambassador to aliens
in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
more of a classic American individualist than Indiana Jones, whom Spielberg
brought to cinematic life in collaboration with Star Wars creator,
has certainly been no shortage of anti-government imagery in Steven
Spielberg's movies, from the US army general who comes up with an "escaped
nerve gas" cover story to keep people like Roy Neary away from the Devil's
Tower alien landing site in Close Encounters to the ominous NASA
bureaucrats who chase and eventually capture E.T., with the intent of
autopsying him after he dies from their HMO quality medical care.
the body of Steven Spielberg's work, until now, always seemed life affirming
and pro-humanist. Jaws bites Man, but Man wins. Spielberg's extraterrestrials
come to earth not to serve us up for dinner but invite us to
dinner. If history has given the Jews a Holocaust, it also has given
us a savior of our very own.
didn't get about Steven Spielberg, until I saw his latest movie,
A.I. Artificial Intelligence, is that the body of his work portrays
the heroic individualist as the exception, not the rule, when it comes
to our species.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the human race are lemmings, just
about at the edge of the abyss. Our industry has given us global warming,
which has flooded our coastal cities. We have used our inventiveness
to create a race of robot slaves, which, in between using for sexual
gratification, we round up in Monster Truck Rally type pogroms and give
them even more inventive sorts of lynchings than white racists historically
gave to "Niggers, Injuns, and Chinamen."
scientist played by William Hurt, creates a prototype of a new sort
of robot who is incrementally closer to having a human soul than his
previous creations -- this one is a boy of eleven years old (masterfully
played by The Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment) -- and he's designed
to be the ultimate pet, one programmed to love you until death -- your
death, unless you decide to return him to the factory to be thrown on
the slag heap. His name is David.
the family this pet is given to isn't worthy of him. The father is a
company drone, the mother is an emotional basket case, and their real
son, returning home after five years in a coma, is a manipulative and
duplicitous little bastard. Ultimately the mom finds that she has to
choose between her real son and the virtual pet that says he loves her,
and instead of even having the courage to shoot her own dog, she abandons
from that point on gives us the Disney homage we have come to expect
from Steven Spielberg: David's journey is modeled on Pinnochio's --
with a little Wizard of Oz and Uncle Tom's Cabin's
Eliza on the ice mixed in for additional flavor. It's not even the first
time that a robot in a science-fiction tale has thought of himself as
Pinnochio; Star Trek: The Next Generation's Artificial Intelligence,
Data, was there, first.
get me wrong. A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a cinematic masterpiece.
After my stomach settled down from the trite liberal narrative that
opens the picture, I found myself treated to a feast of good acting,
good directing, masterful brushstrokes, spectacular imagery, and even
unexpected plot twists.
be a good place to stop reading if you haven't seen the movie, because
to make my point, I have to give the ending away.
the artificial boy overhears the story of Pinnochio, and when he is
abandoned by his adopted mother, he gets it into his positronic brain
that if he can find the Blue Fairy from Pinnochio, and get her to turn
him into a real boy, the mother who he's been programmed to love will
love him back.
way, did I mention that I'm a science-fiction writer, myself? It would
be easy for me to have given David a happy ending, if I wanted to. His
brain is a virtual reality construct to begin with -- how hard could
it be to plug in a module that will give him the virtual reality mother
he's been programmed to crave?
happy endings for us, this time. Steven Spielberg is a serious filmmaker
now, in his post Schindler/Private Ryan incarnation, and he's
moved beyond the happy endings which made him a billionaire. Now Mr.
Spielberg is rich enough to tell us what he really thinks of
us. He has his Oscar and what Harlan Ellison once called his "f*** you"
money. He no longer has to keep his "strictly for them" philosophy in
private conversations with his gun-nut friends; he can put it right
up on the silver screen -- and his contempt for us is so great that
he doesn't even expect us to notice.
of giving David his happy ending -- a virtual happy ending for a virtual
boy, that is -- Spielberg has a grander purpose for him. After a spectacular
adventure chasing the Blue Fairy, David finds one underwater in a sunken
Coney Island, and sets about praying to her to be made a real boy. He
is still doing that when he drops into hibernation mode (heck, we even
have that option in our Windows power-saving modes), and is still there
when, two millennia later, when the human race has self-destructed entirely,
evolved robots, looking a whnole lot like Spielberg's Close Encounters
aliens, find this little/ boy robot with a fabulously detailed memory
of the human race.
Spielberg, the grand purpose of David the Little Robot is to be the
headstone for the human race, and either more robots or his Close
Encounter aliens are to be our pallbearers.
you, showing the human race coming to a bad end doesn't necessarily
make you a hater of our species. George Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty
Four, sounded a humanistic warning against our species playing around
with totalitarian statism. Orwell's dark fairy tale, Animal Farm,
may even be more on point here.
Huxley gave us the same sort of depressing warning in Brave New World.
And so did I in my novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, although I made
sure to give my heroine the happy ending her virtues had earned her.
is that in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Steven Spielberg is
working overtime to make his ending tragic, both for our species, and
for his viewpoint character, the little boy robot. He's given us aliens
in previous movies so he knows that Earth isn't the only planet that
might sustain human life; yet, he never suggests anywhere in this movie
that an obvious solution to industry-caused global warming (if we even
need to take this junk science seriously) is to move our global-warming
industry off the planet. Not even a line of dialogue suggesting that
a human race smart enough to make robots is smart enough to make an
orbital factory -- and a space colony to run it.
Mr. Spielberg even allow his robot/aliens to make our little boy robot
happy by building him a robot mother that accords to his memory; instead,
he (and we) have to be given a ridiculous explanation about how they
can clone his mother but she'll only live one day. These robot/aliens
are, when all is said and done, just as lousy engineers as we were.
unintentional. To Steven Spielberg, his previous heroic individualist
portrayals, Roy Neary, Elliot, and Oskar Schindler, aren't typical representatives
of the human animal. The dumb townspeople of Jaws, the sinister
bureaucrats of Close Encounters and E.T., are.
Steven Spielberg makes so many movies about Nazis. He's as much of a
vulgar Nietzsche fan as Hitler was!
get, finally, to the truth at the chewy center of the liberal soul.
Having lost their faith in God, they've lost their faith in the possibility
of a happy ending for our species. Steven Spielberg would like to believe
that his aliens from Close Encounters or E.T. will come
along to save us, but when all is said and done, he can't make himself
believe in his own fairy tale. Since he doesn't believe we have a creator
looking out for the best interests of our species, he thinks we have
no future except to be drowned in our own poisons -- industrial pollution,
racism, commercialism, suburban narcissism.
be noted that A.I. Artificial Intelligence was originally developed
by the late, great Stanley Kubrick, who, working with Arthur C. Clarke,
gave the human race a future transcendance to superhumanity in 2001:
A Space Odyssey, a warning against hubris in Dr. Strangelove,
and a warning against depriving human beings of the free will to choose
between good and evil in his adaptation of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork
Orange. I wonder if the reason he never completed A.I. Artificial
Intelligence before his death is that he couldn't make the ending
Spielberg has finally told us what he really thinks of us. He thinks
we're doomed by a tragic flaw, and the happiest ending he can realistically
come up with for us after he gets past his childish obsession with fairy
tales is that something we've created -- one of our toys -- might be
made into a memorial for us by some other species, just as tragically
flawed as we are.
come. Steven Spielberg is the AntiDisney.