Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Man vs Predator

A teacher of mine once remarked that I was ‘a very fair person’. His words have since been embedded within my phonological loop and have traversed my consciousness on quite a few occasions. Indeed, I think he was right and that I as a person am generally ‘fair’ insomuch that I do not pick a side hastily and mostly take quite some time with all my mental ponderings, arguments and questions, taking into account or at least trying to take into account all moral and intellectual perspectives before forming an opinion.
That said, I think I can thus briefly discuss something which has fascinated me during the past week or so and it is very much borne out of this personal ‘fair’ attribute that I am content with possessing.
It concerns something which normally I would turn a blind eye to and pretty much overlook, and it involves the Predator movies. The fact is that I am not a big sci-fi fan but I am indeed a fan of good film directing and thus Predator 1 & 2 are among the few exceptions.
Having carefully watched the films in the past week, my opinion of humanity in general has not so much shifted ideologically but perhaps well justified in some respects. Indeed, the Predator is the greatest hunter in the universe but that’s irrelevant. The Predator is physically powerful and highly manoeuvrable for his size, and that again, is very much irrelevant.
What is truly impressive is the concept of the Predator, ‘for what he is, not for what he does’, as is remarked in the second movie.
Therefore, what I think is in fact noteworthy is that despite everything, the end of the two films is all the same, and it represents no particular change from a wider point of view but only personal for the protagonists i.e. Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover.
The comparison that the Predator as a concept provides is what intrinsically fascinates me. Indeed, carnage ensues in the first movie for instance, as shown by the skinned bodies hanging down from the trees at the beginning that is obviously the Predator’s accomplishment. Yes, the sight, however brief, may ruin your lunch, but if you observe the Predator as a creature superior to Man, you should not simply look at him in mere physical and combat terms.
What if the Predator supersedes Man in moral terms as well?
Sure, the Predator is not allowed to kill an unarmed, pregnant or ‘young’ person, and that’s what sets him apart here. In both Predator 1 & 2, the people directly killed by him, are all either criminals or armed forces, but never civilians.
Both endings of the films accordingly, represent no change, but things continuing as normal. This is perhaps more overtly observed in Danny Glover’s character and his final words – ‘You’ll get another chance’.
Life proceeds forth as if nothing has happened because indeed, no alteration of humanity has occurred and we know that the Predator will be coming back some time afterwards, and again and again etc. He would kill a couple of ‘bad’ guys and the hunt will be over. There will be no winner even if the Predator is killed in the end.
Therefore, the Predator hunts for sport and will most brutally kill individuals for the sake of acquiring trophies, but Man is a creature far more base and vile, and would choose war and devastation as to only satisfy His megalomaniac aims and ambitions.
Predator commits a distinct, isolated, episodic carnage. Man, on the other hand, creates atrocities that are effective on a far broader scale that will always involve innocent people, even if only a few.
The Predator comes and goes but Man is consistent in all His evildoings.
Thus, the Predator may be seen as serving as a mirror; a mirror that the whole of humanity should look into and see the truth as it is. The truth itself is that Man is actually worse than the Predator because at least the Predator strictly adheres to his set code of morality and Man, well He often sinks considerably below this level and would usually decay into being base and irrational, and completely immoral, which are attributes most clearly exemplified as part of the gang members’ behaviour in the second movie.
Sure, both the Predator and Man will each seek their own individual ambition but the difference is that unlike Man, the Predator will choose to die rather than hypocritically abandon this ambition in favour of a more presently practical one.
This image of the Predator can even be extended onto a further level and he can be seen as the gruesomely ugly, alien version of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. Through him, Man is judged and well, eloquently condemned as being unworthy in a debatably philosophical, abstract sense. In the films, people are openly depicted as mere louses in a flagrant comparison to his 7 foot stature. People are treated as such and made to look unworthy in every sense of the word albeit only the protagonists eventually manage to prevail over the Predator in a dramatic battle that matters for them only, and not to humanity in general. Sure, Man ‘wins’ but does He really?

If you observe Schwarzenegger’s face expression at the end of the first movie, you can see he’s crushed and even startled to a point of this absolute, fundamental change, but it is his personal experience only, and not humanity’s as a whole.
He’ll live to tell the tale but who’s listening let alone understanding?
Therefore, you may very well ask him at such a moment, ‘Where has he been?’, and bearing in mind the argument presented here, you may clearly be able to see through the rhetoric of this question and make your own conclusions.
Such ambiguous characters can be seen throughout comic books and sci-fi films with Alan Moore’s ‘V for Vendetta’ being a notable example.
You can take for instance, the Predator’s instinctual suicide in a hopeless situation and interpret it as simply not so much aimed at destroying his advanced weaponry and preserving his honour, but perhaps simply killing himself rather than choosing to be finished off by such an ‘unworthy’ creature that is Man. It’s disputable this view, but the Predator might just be onto something here indeed. This attitude is akin to being put into a situation where you are challenged to a duel for example, and yet you refuse to uphold it not because of cowardice but due to the fact that in the end, it is only natural to inquire into the nature of your potential slayer and ask yourself the question – ‘Is it really worth it to lose my life in the hands of this prick?’
The realm of the Predator and his presence can be seen as a dystopia. Indeed, the principal characteristic of any dystopia is people being treated like parasites, small in size and utterly insignificant. Man’s greatest fear is being treated as such because of the painful damage done to His pride and this is subtly exposed in Greek times for instance, with the Homeric world of Gods and fate and the two’s obvious interlinks. Both of them are absolutely indifferent to man’s ideas of goodness and justice. This is at the heart of tragedy overall, not only in the Ancient Greek world but as part of the very fabric of Man’s psyche.
The Predator movies explore this thoroughly though not openly. A couple of people end up being devoured by him who rips off their heads and scavenges their flesh in order to preserve their skulls and spinal cords. Sure, a terrifying act and this is precisely at the heart of this debate, with Man being completely dominated by the Predator who finishes Him off in this austere, heart-wrenching and ‘humiliating’ way.
This is what mainly comprises Man’s foremost fear and the Predator’s job is to instil this kind of fear within the viewer by means of this cinematographic simulation i.e. the movie.
Perhaps, the Predator is within us; within our minds as part of the Freudian idea of the id, ego and superego where there is this constant instability and self-doubt.
He’s not human but his actions serve as a microcosm of what Man has done, still does and will continue to do in the future – Atrocity.
The Predator lives in this micro realm and his bloody escapades exist precisely within this fictional, micro realm of the movie. And yet in reality, it is ultimately Man’s transgressions within the actual macro realm of life that contrives the real difference between Him and the Predator. As such, the Predator’s actions can be vindicated with the pretext of them being performed on a comparatively small scale, in contrast to Man whose liberty and discordance with morality paves way for atrocity on a scale that is infinitely grander and thus, far more horrendous.
Therefore as to this mighty creature, the Predator, well he should simply not stay on Earth and any residue Predators still broodingly hovering the obscure places on Earth should immediately leave.
Perhaps, you may just be too good for this planet or at least, not bad enough.


At 23 June 2007 at 21:41 , Blogger ¡Benjaminista! said...

The truth is Mussolini was right: War is to man what maternity is to a woman. We cannot erase the killer instinct, we can only sublimate it. Thus soccer riots and bloodsport. The Predators can be said to be post-utopian. They live without illusions. They know their nature, they don't make excuses for it. They would never kill you in the name of achieving a permanent peace. They would kill you because small-scale wars, "hunts" are the closest we can get to permanent peace. No ressentiment, no hypocrisy, just naked truth. And the naked truth, when you take off its mask, is naturally horrifying.


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