Somehow in the last post, which you should be reading first, I got off track. Watching the movie, knowing the secret ahead of time, the characters' anguish and shock seemed overdone. But then, I've forgotten what life was like before Reagan (our most Hestonian president, I'd say, with that veneer of smiling good nature and great hair over a dickish soul and addled mind), and worse yet Mr. New World Order. As Saul says, we had a world once,...schmuck.
But even in those kinder, gentler days before the Bush Dynasty ascended, people should have understood that in a movie where the premise is that the world is way overpopulated and food is hard to come by, there's gonna be some cannibalism. It's happened with boats and plains and wagon trains full of hungry people, and for that matter probably happens in New York city from time to time anyway.
Maybe I'm jaded by years of living under unbridled and bloodthirsty capitalism, but it also makes sense that a large corporation would pounce on the obvious profit potential in this movie world. A steady supply of willing flesh, a vast pool of consumers hungry for protein, yearning for a new product. As businessmen are so fond of saying, it's a no-brainer.
Soylent Green saw this future coming. Like all tales of the future, it is doomed to looking stupid on some levels: the lame-ass video game would have fallen prey to this in less than a decade, there are no Latinos, and the guns are pitiful little toys. On the other hand, we're well on the way to being a plutocracy, run by a few ruthless people who live in a level of wealth unimaginable to the unwashed masses. Officials who use their position to enrich themselves and appropriate other people's stuff? Yep. Corporations using public resources to enhance profitability (where do you think the Riot Patrol scoopers dump their haul?) and shaping public policy to their liking? Yep. High-powered politicians drawn from the ranks of the wealthy? Yep. Public sector workers not paid a decent wage? Yep. Corruption, dehumanization, women treated as furniture? Yep, yep, and yep.
I heard about a scientific study recently in which burgers from 6 corporate chains were tested, and it was found that they contained between 2 and 15% meat. Slightly more if you count guts and parasites, but basically a Soylent Gray disk. I haven't eaten that crap in years, but in large urban centers, it accounts for a large portion of the menu for those who cannot afford to have luxuries like fresh vegetables. I don't think it has yet become profitable to include human meat, but don't expect Archer Daniels Midland to tell you when that happens. They and the other food-stuff mega corporations may well have nicely bound feasibility studies already on the shelves, just like in the movie.
Which brings to mind a flaw. I can understand the guy from state security hiring a patsy to murder a conspirator who might not be reliable, but to think that they'd leave the investigation to a detective who is not also part of the operation boggles the mind. The bodyguard did not sweep out the books and any other incriminating evidence or kill the priest moments after he heard confession form the Man Who Knew Too Much. Amateurs. Bush I or Cheney would have disappeared the killer, bodyguard, priest and furniture immediately, would have put their own guy on the case; nobody, least of all some rabble rouser, would have ever known about the murder or the greater crime of mass cannibalism.
If word ever did get out, they'd put the media to work explaining that Soylent Green is as American as apple pie (or at least mock apple pie made with pancreas instead of those horrible ritz crackers). They'd have paraded out McCain, who would explain that he took up cannibalism out of necessity in Hanoi, but kept up with it for the pure gustatory pleasure. There would be a new ad campaign on the theme "Soylent Green is People," showing the smiling faces of the diverse Soylent workforce, appropriating and deflating the critique. Anti-cannibals would be branded as socialists and homos, marginalized, and if that didn't work, scooped up by the riot patrol and delivered to the Gitmo Processing Plant.
The voluntary suicide center would be different, too. None of this druidic robe stuff, a final film dwelling on nature. There'd be a big cross. You'd be strapped to the gurney so that you could not escape when you figured out they were lying about giving you the full 20 minutes of nice movie. Fawning Dick Van Patten manning the gates, allowing himself to be pushed around by a half-fed local cop? Hell no: a Blackwater crew, tossing the bullet-riddled bodies of interlocutors into the hopper.
The process, the conveyors and trucks and machines that transport and transform bodies into Soylent Green, appears a little silly now. Bodies given the dignity of a clean white sheet through the whole process? Maybe in the first week of operation, but soon enough some manager would get himself a promotion by figuring out that eliminating the sheets would increase the profit margin, another would move up after devising a streamlined process for gold tooth extraction. Likewise, once the suicider has signed on the dotted line, amenities are unnecessary and a waste. No self-respecting corporation in 2011, much less 2022, would want to justify the expense to shareholders anxious about meeting quarterly projections.
In 1963, Heston marched with Dr. King and advocated for civil rights. In 1973, he seemed outraged by what the Soylent Corp was doing. In 1983, he'd changed his tune, and by '93 was excoriating the pinkos who would dare badmouth the poor maligned white male. As Heston went, so too did the leadership of our country. Less and less concerned with any right but the right to bear arms, more and more demented. Unwilling to let anything stand in the way of the march toward complete corporate domination of the economy and society. Growing Mosaic in his devotion to the one true god (with his three faces: father, son, and holy cash flow), and disgusted by the humanists.
Soylent Greenbacks are made of people.