‘Room’ is a movie based on a novel ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue. This beautiful movie has a cute 5 year old kid named Jack who had been isolated with his mom in ‘Room’, and one day they break out of that to the ‘World’ – watch the movie (available on Netflix and YouTube) trailer here. This blog is a compilation of the conversations in the movie.
“Where do we go when we are asleep?” Right here in Room. “But dreams.. do we go to, into TV for dreaming?” We are never anywhere but here..
“Jack, do you remember the mouse? Do you know where he is? He is on the other side of this wall..” What other side? “Jack, there’s two sides to everything” But not at octagon.. octagon has 8 sides.. “Yeah, but.. a wall.. a wall like this, we’re on the inside and the mouse is on the outside” You mean, in the outer space? “No.. in the world. It’s much closer than the outer space” I can’t see the outside-side.. “Where do you think old Nick gets our food?” From TV, by magic! “There is no magic. What you see on TV, those are pictures of real things, of real people. It’s real stuff..” So… Dora is real for real? “No, that’s a drawing. Dora is a drawing. But other people, they have faces like us. Those are pictures of real things and all the other stuff that you see on TV that’s real too.. that’s real ocean, real trees, reat cats, dogs..” No way! Where do they all fit! “They just do. They just fit out in the World.”
“There’s a leaf. Do you see that?” Dumb Ma! That’s not a leaf. Leaves are green.. “Yeah, but on trees. But then they fall and they rot, like salad in the fridge.” Where’s all the stuff you said? Trees and dogs, cats and grass.. “We can’t see it from here because skylight looks upwards instead of sideways.” You’re just tricking me.. Liar, liar, pants on fire! “Jack! I couldn’t explain it before because you were too small.. You were too small to understand, so I had to make up a story, but now I’m doing the opposite. I’m doing the opposite of lying, I’m un-lying, because you’re five now. You’re old enough to understand what the World is. You have to understand. We can’t keep living like this.” I want to be four again..
“Do you remember how Alice wasn’t always in Wonderland?” She fell down. Deep in a hole. “I wasn’t always in the Room. I’m like Alice. I was a girl named Joy. And I lived in a house with my mom and dad.” What house? “A house. It’s in the World” A TV house? “No, a real house. Not TV. Are you even Listening to me?” I want a different story. THIS STORY IS BORING..! “NO! This is the story that you get… I’ve been locked here in Room for 7 years, do you understand? Jack, the World is so big, it’s so big, you won’t even belive it… And Room is just, one stinky part of it.” Room is not stinky! Only when you do a fart. I don’t believe in your stinky world.
“No, you’re not sorry! You have no idea what’s going on in my head. You don’t need me, you’ve been doing just fine without me.” How can you say that? Do you think you’re the only one whose life was destroyed? “Actually, that’s exactly how I feel.” Really? How would you feel of somebody took Jack away from you? Look at him! You should be thinking about him.. “Don’t you tell me how to look after my son. I’m sorry that I’m not ‘nice’ anymore. But you know what? Maybe if your voice saying BE NICE hadn’t been in my head, I wouldn’t have helped the guy with the f****** sick dog!”
We all were heartbroken to hear about the female elephant that was ‘fed’ pineapple filled with firecrackers, they got exploded in her mouth and she succumbed to the injuries. To add up to the tragedy, later postmortem reports showed that she was pregnant. It’s insane to torture animals whichever is the method, it’s insane that somebody could come up with such an idea.. BUT, later it was found that those pineapples weren’t actively “fed” to the elephant, they were meant for something else. They were kept as a snare to shoo away/attack/scare the wild boars and other animals who damaged the crops, the elephant just happened to have come across them (read the report here).
Now the questions that I have are:
Why do people have so much against wild animals that attack their lands? Whose land is it anyway? Who actually hijacked it, common people, corporations or greed and ambitions of human race? Is it okay if the wild boars get injured the same way as the elephant? Would we feel similar remorse? Do wild boar’s lives matter? Are there any provisions for elephants (or any animals) to get proper and safe access to food? What if a human child had come across that pineapple snare? Should we feel the same amount of pain or we’d first check the background status of the child and then decide how to respond? And most importantly, who gets to decide whose life matters more?
Do we really care about animals?
Not really. We only care about the momentary adrenaline that rushed through our veins when we heard that “sansani khabar” (Oh my God! How can someone do such a thing to the poor elephant? People are so cruel!) Earlier this year, it was reported that government is soon going to permit farmers with licensed firearms to shoot the wild boars and other animals who wander into their lands. There have been several incidents when tigers, leopards and other animals have fallen prey to haphazardly placed snares around farms and even wildlife corridors.
It’s a fact that people love violence. It’s just that the half of us don’t like to actively participate in violence, we just like to hear the story afterwards – the more the gore, the quicker we respond.
The whole incident reminds me of the recent webinar arranged by ISPP on Healthcare infrastructure and policy. One of the speakers, SY Quraishi (former Chief election commissioner of India) gave an example of public reaction on a similar ground.
They all had gathered for some conference related to children’s welfare, where a few socially woke artists were also present. He decided to conduct an experiment. He told people in the conference that around 300 children died in a blast in Syria’, and observed their responses.
Obviously people got panicked and were shocked to hear this, expressed their grief, and frantically took out their phones to maybe tweet or to search more info.. Mr. Quraishi then told them, it hadn’t happened that day, he just wanted to see their reactions.
Then he said these many kids die almost daily in India because of starvation, malnutrition, even a minor illness because there is no all accessible public health infrastructure. But we don’t pay attention to these news – mostly they don’t even get reported. It’s almost as if it’s okay or just normal to die of hunger..
Whenever we hear about incidents like what happened to the elephant, we don’t like to give it a minute and actually think about it, or try to find out the factors responsible, or take an initiative to solve the problems. We only pop our eyes out when we hear about one heartbreaking incident, which is actually the tip of the iceberg, and then move on. The problem remains unsolved.
PS: In a parallel world, when the teacher will ask "Who is the strongest animal on the earth?" the student from any of the marginalized community would answer with "elephant, because it could melt hearts of millions of Indians and even celebrities who don't bat an eyelid when human beings get murdered in broad daylight in the name of gender, caste, religion, 'honor'.."
Recently, I watched the newly released movie in theater-Jurassic Park: The fallen kingdom. Overall, it was a good movie, technically and otherwise. The usual plot of any Jurassic Park/world movie is almost the same, someone gets greedy and wants to use genetic technology and the dinosaurs for some purpose. For example, John Hammond wanted to create something very amazing with his money and influence so he built the theme park to astonish the world by having living dinosaurs in it, the next part has his son bringing out the T-rex for selling it to a park, the third part deals with adrenaline junkie kids to visit the island for adventure. Then there is ‘Jurassic world’ series, where the park is rebuilt and we see two parties- 1] park’s founding body who thinks that dinosaurs are just another toy to show in the amusement park & 2] The military who wants to create dinosaur species to hunt given target. In the end, everyone learns his lesson in the end in his own way.
The latest sequel talks about one more problem-the volcano on Isla Numblar getting more and more active, and having the potential to burn the island completely which would cause the elimination of all the dinosaur species from earth (once again). This starts a conflict, whether to let mother nature rule (let the dinosaurs die) or to meddle in her business (and save them by displacing them to a new island). Immediately there are two groups, those who want to save the dinosaurs and those who don’t want to take any additional actions. There is a third hidden group of the opportunists, who deceive the first group to track the dinosaurs on the island and capture them for experimentation and military purposes.
There is one incident in the movie where, from the island, military men rescue as many dinosaur species as possible and take them on their military ship. The time is critical and the volcano is on the peak of destruction. Everyone reaches on board and suddenly they all hear an excruciating sound, the sad cries of a giant Diplodocus (sort of), who was left behind, standing alone on the deck. As if she was calling them to come back for her, or saying her goodbyes, no one would know. No one could do anything. They didn’t return for her, maybe because she was just a harmless herbivore, who took too much space, and couldn’t be a killer. In seconds the lava erupted and poor dinosaur, who was once the crown jewel of the park and the epic magnanimous creature of the planet, was embraced by the flames. This triggers something in the viewers, that they can describe with no locution.
The senate witnesses a debate between first two groups-whether or not to save isla numblar’s dinosaurs from volcanic eruption? Tough question, because it starts its own list of questions-Who has more right to live than others? Who is the better one? Who has the right to decide that someone is better than others? Who gets the authority to decide everyone’s net worth? Is there any measure, any unit to describe that? How many units is good and how many is bad? What is good and what is bad?
This reminded me of another movie, ‘The Oxford Murders’. In that, the protagonist-Martin, a university student, unravels the mystery of his landlady’s murder, while being fooled by his idol-Arthur Seldom-who is actually, trying to cover the murderer because of some guilt from past. Seldom makes Martin believe that a serial killer is challenging them by giving them a mathematical problem. But his puzzles are used as a cover by a desperate father of a seven year old girl in need of a lung transplant and he murders next few (who are already on the verge of dying). He plans to blow up the school-bus of differently abled kids and use one of their lungs for his daughter’s transplant. He dies in the ordeal, but the curious thing is, why did he think it’s appropriate to take lives of those kids? Because their consciousness was not as developed as ours? Does it make them insignificant? The French graphic novel Le Transperceneige (on which the movie Snowpiercer is based) shows the struggle-to live on the same footage, in the ice age caused by a failed global warming experiment, done by humans of course-between the high and low classes of humans-not caring about the whereabouts of other elements of the planet’s biological sector. It, therefore, indirectly shows the narcissistic human nature-how little we care about others, may they be other humans or creatures.
There are many movies and fiction shows that show similar line of existential crisis. It’s funny how the production houses for such movies (which are mostly Hollywood, Marvel or Warner Bros, etc.) keep their own countries at the center of the decision making body in the movie and still make money on an international level. Even in kid’s cartoon, Doraemon shows Japanese earth’s representative in outer space, the Potterverse mentions the magical population from only Europe. This is of course obvious, everyone favors their own troupe. We naturally feel safe in a familiar environment with people we know. This natural instinct-a characteristic feature representing our animalistic lineage-is interpreted by human population as a license to berate the unfamiliar.
In his book Sapiens-A brief history of mankind, Yuval Noah Harari has beautifully given account of the socio-psycho-biological evolution of mankind. There were more than six species under the category of ‘Humans’ (under the genus Homo) one of which are us, Homo sapiens. What made the others decline making us the only human species? Or the question should be, what is so special about sapiens that they are the only lasting members of the said genus? The answer is cognitive evolution, which involves more than just communication skills. Many animals and humans (other than sapiens) could say ”Careful! A lion!”-to make others aware and run or to fool them away from food. But a modern human-sapien-can tell her friends that this morning near the bend in the river, she saw a lion tracking a herd of bison. She can then describe the exact location, including different paths leading to the area. With this data, they all can discuss whether they should approach the the river, chase away the lion and hunt the bison.
This cognitive revolution also allows Homo sapiens toacquire the ability to say ”The lion is the guardian spirit of our tribe.” Only us sapiens can construct and believe in a world based entirely on fiction. This enables us to cooperate on a massive level-using one faith system, we just have to believe in the guardian spirit of lion-even without forming intimate bonding with each other, which is crucial in animals to trust each other. This is our secret behind the dominance over other species.But this comes with a great responsibility, because we live in a world that has a huge number of elements connected by webs intermingled in each other in a complicated fashion. It needs to be intact because we can’t afford any single thread in the web to be broken.
I’d say in accordance with the cognitive revolution theory, our current behavior-showing favoritism towards the familiar/useful ones and thrashing others-is very ‘un-sapien-like’. We are supposed to be cooperating with everyone of us, so that the web is not disturbed. That’s the ultimate purpose of our existence, looking at the history of evolution. If everyone understands this, it’d be easier for us to decide what to do with the dinosaurs in Isla Numblar.