Friday, March 16, 2018

Do you enjoy sci-fi? How about sci-fi romance?

I was thinking about this topic because my MIL was so shocked that a romance about a woman and a fish-man-god won the Oscars for Best Director: Guillermo Del Toro, and Best Movie: The Shape of Water.  In her opinion, if a movie, or book for that matter, isn't about something real, then it's not worthy of her time. The funny thing to me, is that my late father was the same way. But these two had nothing in common! My dad was an atheist, who read mostly psychology and anthropology books. My MIL is a devout Roman Catholic, who reads history books and current events books written by politicians and those who know them well. But they both agreed that fiction, especially something silly like a romance between a human and a non-human, was a waste of time.

But not to me. See the thing is, I like to have my preconceptions challenged. I love sci-fi movies; I especially adore those that make me think deeply about what I just saw and experienced. Did you see Annihilation yet? It's a superb movie, that makes you question what is reality, and what is left when we doubt our own senses...and our own bodies? Are we still human? And what is the nature of love, in such a situation?

Previously, I loved Arrival, that presented the viewpoint that as humans, finite beings that we are, we are forced to live our lives in a linear manner, from birth through death. But what if we could see into our own futures? Would we still live our lives the same? Or would we try to change things? Why? To make them better? How would we know, when that would become our new reality?

And let's not forget Inception, where the nature of dreams and their power over us was explored in a most brain-tickling manner. But when I recommended that movie to someone in my Jazzercise class, the woman next to me said, "Ew! I went with my family to see that, and my husband and I walked out after the first half hour. It was so hard to understand what was going on, that we gave up and left. Our kids stayed, but not sure what they thought of it." I was shocked, when I'd enjoyed the movie so much. Then afterwards, the woman who had asked for opinions on what to go see, told us she'd read an article that said that people who are set in their ways, and prefer older, more traditional thought patterns, disliked that movie. But those who thought in a younger, more curious manner, loved it. I guess that's where I fall then.

See the thing is, I enjoyed The Shape of Water on many levels. For one, as is usual for Del Toro, it was a visually beautiful movie. The colors, the settings, the atmosphere...all evocative and gorgeous. Not normal, but splendid. Then there was the fish-god himself, who was similar to the Creature From the Black Lagoon, only much better done (no zippers visible on his suit!) Then there was the mute girl, who we got to know intimately in the first few moments. I can't remember ever seeing a depiction of female masturbation that didn't involve the male gaze, where it was done only to titillate a male viewer also in the scene. In this movie, the female starts out her workday every morning by taking a bath, and pleasuring herself in the water. So right then and there, we realize that she has always enjoyed having her senses consumed with water. Foreshadowing, anyone?

When Del Toro accepted the Best Picture award, he gave a nod to those who realized his movie for the allegory it is, and wanted to honor it. There is the theme of other. The fish-god-man is taken prisoner by the military man who makes it his job to understand what this creature is, and what danger it might present to humanity, though there is never any indication of any danger to anyone. He mistreats him, and tortures him, all in the name of discovering what he can about him, with his eventual goal gradually becoming clear: if he doesn't vivisect him, he'll kill him first, then dissect him to reduce him to his parts. Never mind that the creature has a right to life, and that the villagers who lived around the river he was found in, worshiped him as a god. He's an anomaly, that has to be understood, or destroyed in the attempt.

This is upsetting on so many levels. Sci-fi often deals with the theme of man's inhumanity to man, and to other living creatures. But if we can't accept the rights of other humans due to their differences in skin coloration, culture, religion, etc, how on earth can we accept the rights of other non-human creatures? Kudos to Del Toro for exposing this mindset in such a visually stunning movie.

And on an amusing note, I've read on-line that there are, ahem, self-pleasure devices for women that are based on what we never saw in the movie. Suffice it to say it resembles something with scales, yet is still in a distinctly human-pleasing shape. I wonder if anyone in the movie gets any royalties from sales of these toys?

Click for buy link
Click for buy link
To my surprise, though sci-fi is my favorite genre to read and to watch in movies, my muse doesn't give me characters to write in the genre. Instead, I write contemporary erotic romance. I do have two vampire books out, and I'm currently working on one with another paranormal hero. But what I most enjoy writing about is the way we communicate with each other when falling in love. The wealth of feelings is endlessly fascinating to me. So even in my paranormal romances, it's the relationship that is paramount to me, not the details of the lovers' otherness. Because I celebrate differences.

Ta ta until next month, my friends.

1 comment:

Fiona McGier said...

Hmmm, seems like I might be in the minority on loving sci-fi. Just got back from a weekend out of state visiting family. To each their own.

I'm at Annette's blogspot this week, writing about the state of Illinois, where I've set my Reyes Family Romances. If you'd like to drop by there, maybe reading about my state will get a comment from you. https://annettesnyder.blogspot.com/