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Overpopulation is Hollywood's Concern Too

Overpopulation is Hollywood's Concern Too

by Yash Saboo May 24 2018, 4:15 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 36 secs

I, just like everybody else, walked out of the theatre confounded after watching Avengers: Infinity War. As phenomenal as the film was, little did I focus on this detail: The main reason why Thanos went on a killing spree and wiped out half of the nation was overpopulation. He clearly states in the film, “It’s a simple calculus,” he declares with near Shakespearean panache, “This universe has finite resources … if life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist. It needs correcting.”

The world's population is growing by 1.10 percent per year, or approximately an additional 83 million people annually. The global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. The numbers are shocking.

Source : Bird Watching

What Thanos comes up with is a disturbing solution. When Doctor Strange asks him what he would do after killing half of all living things, he responds: “I finally rest, and watch the sunrise on a grateful universe.” He is much like Adolf Hitler, just that he does not differentiate people based on race or class. Thanos is not the only one to cut down the population by half. References prior to Infinity War exist. In 2016, Ron Howard adapted Dan Brown's famous book Inferno and made a film of the same name. The plot revolved around famous history professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who has to go on a puzzle-solving quest to save the humankind before it gets obliterated because of a virus.

Helga Luthersdottir, an academic specializing in superhero studies, says that the focus for plotlines is now ‘competition for limited resources’, with some movies depicting the aftermath of unchecked population growth.

Steven Spielberg’s latest, Ready Player One (2018) also deals with a similar situation. The year is 2045 and the world is an overpopulated wasteland. The film has been ravaged by climate change, overpopulation and poverty.

Alexander Payne's Downsizing (2017) starring Matt Damon, is a message wrapped in a satirical comedy, presenting a creative solution to overpopulation: Get small. His characters live in an otherwise recognizable world in which scientists have discovered a way to shrink human beings down to 13 centimeters (about 5 inches), with no negative effects. Once tiny, far fewer resources are needed; suburban comfort, in newly created planned communities for the small, can be had with just a couple of feet of space. If enough people chose this option, the world can be saved — and would also mean tiny everything.

There are many older examples too. Soylent Green (1973) where, in a Swiftian twist, the excess population is euthanized and turned into nutritious wafers, and Children of Men (2006), which inverts these visions by showing a future where resource scarcity is caused by sterility, rather than reproduction.

So, overpopulation is not just big environment institution's concern. It is Hollywood's too. Films such as these display specific contemporary anxieties about population growth, which are then brought to people's attention, even if not in a direct casual manner. The message is being received even if the communicator is a bald purple guy or kids in a virtual reality world.

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