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Dystopia is Now: Viewing Never Let Me Go in Trump’s America

In an interview with MTV, Andrew Garfield, co-star of Never Let Me Go, explains what he views as the heart of the film. He states: “What is at the core of the story is a very human story, discussing what it is to have a soul, and how you prove what a soul is.”

For Garfield, it isn’t about science fiction, alternate realities, or evening cloning. It’s about answering that single, haunting question: “Do we have souls?”

That’s the question I’ve been pondering as Pages gears up for its final experience and America crashes into 2017 with national confusion, fear, and disbelief.

I didn’t vote for Trump last November. Perhaps you didn’t vote for him either. But still stunningly enough, come next Friday, that man will step into the most important role in our nation. At first, I had a lot of anxiety that the Pages Media Arts Experience fell on inauguration day. I was concerned about protests, logistics, traffic issues. Part of me didn’t want to distract myself in any way from what was happening in our capitol that day.

Now, I think there may be value in the intersection.

In any futuristic flick, we expect science fiction to give us a perspective of the world turned on its head, a cautionary tale about how we could go wrong. We look to dystopian literature to represent the world as it shouldn’t be so we can sit back on our couches and comfortably be made to “think.”

But the brilliance and, maybe irony, of our film experience landing on inauguration day is that in 2017, America is the cautionary tale. We are already living in dystopia. And it should be anything but comfortable.

I’d love to engage with students around this idea. How in contemporary America, there might Т not be a Hailsham gallery, but we are still othering. We are still demanding proof that the marginalized prove their humanity. Time and again, we insist that they demonstrate their existence has value, that they deserve equal rights, that their lives matter. Today, we don’t send people to donation centers, but we keep humans bound within socio-economic, racialized classes. We treat their suffering as currency to maintain a status quo that benefits the white and rich. Our silence reinforces that somehow this is normal, that this is how we survive. We become fluent in looking away.

On Friday, as Pages intersects with Trump’s inauguration, we can’t afford to look away. We can’t afford to not engage. Like Tommy and Ruth and Kathy, we remind ourselves that our lives and the lives of others are valuable simply because they exist. Like the main characters of NLMG, we turn to art. Through Pages, we make art not to prove that we have souls, but as a subversive reminder in the an unwavering in belief that humanity belongs to all of us.

Photo: Edge of the Frame

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