Thursday, February 05, 2009

Escape From Earth And The Status Cow

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you ... ”

Revelation 18:4-6

Something like two thousand years ago, when the status quo of Roman occupation became unbearable to early Christians they were able to leave the Middle East and re-locate to the fringes of the Roman empire in Europe.

Something like five hundred years ago, when the status quo of Roman Catholicism and secular nationalism became unbearable to Europe’s Protestants they were able to leave Europe and re-locate to colonies in the ‘New World’ here in North America.

Today, when the status quo of consumerism and global corporatism becomes unbearable to Christians—or anyone else—where can anyone go?


In 1981 filmmaker John Carpenter made a low-budget adventure/science fiction film called “Escape from New York.” The plot was that Manhattan had been turned into a prison and the President of the United States had been captured by inmates there after Air Force One crashed on the island. The inmates hope to use the President (one way or the other) to break the status quo and escape confinement. The government, however, sends in a tough guy, Snake Plissken, who plays out the superhero role of protecting the status quo by preventing the inmates from escaping. Even an independent filmmaker like Carpenter sticks to the archetypal plot of maintaining the status quo at all costs. The film is interesting mostly because it co-starred Adrienne Barbeau and even when there’s nothing particularly interesting to look at in the movie it is always fun to look at Adrienne Barbeau. The film is also interesting because by the time Carpenter got around to making a sequel, the issue of status quo had moved to center stage and as a filmmaker Carpenter was ready to tackle the issue in a very different way.

In 1996 John Carpenter made “Escape from LA.” In this film, an earthquake has separated Los Angeles from North America and the federal government—which has become dominated by “extremist” Christians—has turned the island of LA into a prison. The President’s daughter, however, steals a powerful new weapon and hides out on the island of LA where she gives the weapon to terrorists who hope to overthrow the US government. The government, again, turns to Snake Plissken. He plays out the superhero role of protecting the status quo by going to LA, ‘rescuing’ the President’s daughter and stealing the super-weapon away from the terrorists. Returning to the mainland, however, Snake is confronted by just how wretched the status quo is. The President is revealed to be an amoral monster who wants to sentence his own daughter to death on national television. The terrorists are still massing an invasion force along the southern US border. Snake has to choose what he will do with the super-weapon. Will he give it to the President who will use it to wipe out all opposition to US rule? Will he give it to the terrorists who will use it to replace Western civilization with gang rule? Snake Plissken, in a move very rare for superheroes, takes a third path: Snake destroys the status quo by using the super-weapon himself to destroy all electronic, technical infrastructure across the entire planet. The terrorists are destroyed because their ability to organize and coordinate themselves is taken away from them. The Western governments are destroyed because their ability to organize and coordinate their populations is taken away from them. The movie ends with Snake Plissken lighting up a cigarette, looking at the camera and saying, “Welcome to the human race,” and then turning and walking away.


I would like to write the screenplay for the third movie of the inevitable trilogy of “Escape From” films. So far as I know, Carpenter is not interested in making a third film, but I still would like to write the script for a third film.

I would write, “Escape from Earth.”

The story would be that without the population-at-large knowing it, the L5 Society has been successfully running orbital colonies at the Lagrangian points L4 and L5 for many years. [The L5 Society is a real group that has been around since 1975.] The evil, ersatz ‘Christian’ government survived the disaster at the end of “Escape from LA” by transferring their important people up to these orbital strongholds. The story would be that this ‘government in exile’ would hire Snake Plissken once again to ‘rescue’ a woman scientist held captive on Earth and bring her up to the Lagrange colonies. Snake’s reward would be a place in the colonies as well. Snake would battle through the disorganized forces planet-side, locate the woman scientist and prepare to help her get up to orbit. But Snake would discover the whole mission was a con game. The orbital people in fact really wanted to kidnap the woman themselves because she was on the verge of developing a ‘reaction-less drive’ that would make it possible for any group planet-side that was reasonably organized to create their own space program and try to re-locate themselves to the Lagrange points, create orbital colonies themselves or even by-pass and supersede the orbital colonies by using the super-drive to colonize the asteroid belt or Mars. The movie would end with Snake Plissken ferreting out the true intentions of the remnants of the federal government in orbit, ferreting out the true intentions of the fringe groups planet-side who want to destroy the orbital colonies and protecting the woman scientist so that she can finish the space drive and deliver it to a coalition of groups who are going to re-locate to the asteroids and Mars and start fresh, leaving behind all the old tribulations and conflicts of Earth’s past.


Today, when the status quo of consumerism and global corporatism becomes unbearable, where can anyone go?

I can’t even begin to answer this question in real life. [If anyone knows, PLEASE post a comment on my blog or send me an e-mail at and let me in on the secret!]

But I can answer the question in a screenplay: Just as good Christians started colonies here on the American frontier, I would have decent people establishing colonies on what Gerard K. O'Neill has called the High Frontier.

People pass me by
On my imaginary street
Ordinary people
It's impossible to meet
Holding conversations
That are always incomplete
Well, I don't know
Oh, where are there places to go
Someone, somewhere has to know
I don't know

Silver rain was falling down
Upon the dirty ground
Of London Town

1 comment:

Angeline said...

According to Hindu belief, there are repeating Maha Yuga cycles of 4,320,000 years each in 3 periods. As dharma is decreasing in this last stage (Kali Yuga), we're in trouble. After 1,000 Maha Yugas, Vishnu will destory the world and then Brahma is supposed to emerge from a lotus flower from Vishnu's navel and recreate the world. Now, if scientists estimate that the earth is 4.5-ish billion years old, let's look at the math. 4,320,000 x 1000 = 4,320,000,000
That's just about what scientists are estimating. I think that answer, Mark, is that we're screwed. Hindus may worship the cow but not the status cow.