Here’s a billboard poster for the new sf film, ‘Gravity’. I spotted it leaving Piccadilly station one day and misread it, first of all.
My misreading got me thinking about a couple of issues I’ve got with contemporary sf in all media, and perhaps with other genres as well.
And it’s all to do with things that take themselves way too seriously.
‘Gravity’ seems like rather serious film, from the few bits I’ve seen about it. And, a very expensive one to make. They must have poured untold sums into the special effects and the marketing and publicity.
No way would they want it to look as if their poster depicts a giant robot chicken flying through space.
But that’s precisely what I thought it was.
Two things struck me about this. Firstly, films like this don’t have a sense of humour. Not in the way that would allow an audience to entertain the idea that they might see a great big silly chicken flapping about the place. Even a split second’s suspicion that one might appear would be enough to undermine the carefully constructed illusion that this is real space and real drama in space. We live in an era of very literal verisimilitude, and a very earnest approach to science fiction, and an almost superstitious dread of silliness and frivolity. Everything must be grim and earnest in order for the magic to work, it seems.
The other thing that struck me was that I would love there to be a film about a giant space chicken, presented in deadpan fashion, undermining that sententious pseudo-realism. But that seems impossible in this terribly serious age.