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A Lack of Communication

For Article Wednesday, we will be discussing one of the key ingredients that just so happens to be shared between cliche romantic comedies and horror, and how it pertains to new films coming out in the scifi and horror genres respectively. That ingredient would be the lack of communication between characters. In romantic comedies, this most often happens when one of the leads misunderstands the eventual significant other, leading to a conflict that could have been easily solved with a little honesty and outright openness. We would be spared 20 minutes of agonizing and unnecessary drama should one of the characters simply and quickly explain themselves and the situation.

Unfortunately, this problem is just as prevalent in horror. Often times the fuel behind our cast's predicament is a lack of communication. Should someone accept paranormal, natural, or completely valid warnings, much of the butchering could be avoided. But, the ignorance towards the evidence is often what brings us the action we crave, so we must be ignorant ourselves towards the stupidity in order to enjoy the ensuing malevolence. While often times this lack of communication is merely an ignorance to caution, sometimes the communication is blamed on a lack of technology or opportunity.

Yet, the further we go into the future in scifi and horror films, the less of an excuse a lack of communication can be. While we have not solved instant-speed information travel across the galaxy, it would be logical to surmise that we could solve such a problem of data transfer if we have already solved intergalactic travel, as many of these movies do more than imply. Our current technology encompassed in the word "internet" has led to an expontential explosion of information sharing and gathering, which has in turn led to rampant growth in technological advancements. Yet, compared to the end-goals predicted in many of our favorite scifi films, our technology is primitive.

So why is it that in the near or far future, when we have mastered countless space-oriented advancements, we have failed to carry over the data-transferring aspect? Wouldn't data transfer be of astronomical importance the further we go from Earth? Yet, our fictional futures rarely apply such knowledge, or conveniently choose to ignore it when it fails to fuel the plot.

For example, the number one issue I have with the new Star Wars film and new Alien film is this very concept of a lack of communication. Neither of these universes, especially the Star Wars galaxy, have the excuse of not having technology capable of instant data transfer and reception. Yet, with our own present-day progression of data transfer, and the in-story use of live and stored holographic communication in Star Wars, the 1700s' method of communication is no longer sensible with the technology implied. Therefore, I find it ridiculous that the Star Wars: Force Awakens trailer and subsequent production interviews have implied a "realism" to a 40-year gap turning episodes 4-6 into myth and legend.

Given the strong political structure and influence of the Empire, it is reasonable to conclude their stronghold on information and the technologies that supply it could be more constricting than I am willing to give them credit for, but at the same time, a 40-year gap, with hundreds of trans-species witnesses of the Death Star II's destruction spanning millions, likely billions of eyes, a single-generation gap refuting all facts of the historical event makes little sense, even through the use of verbal communication, especially considering the core of the Empire's leadership was just wiped out. It boggles the mind.

And in the new Alien: Covenant (the decided upon title for the upcoming sequel to Prometheus), we are presented with the common thread of failing to communicate. Countless times throughout the franchise, our crews are given opportunities to either communicate a warning or acknowledge an existing one, yet these messages always come from dumb mouths or fall on deaf ears. In Prometheus, the threat to Earth is real, yet no mention of sending or preserving a message (beyond the usual log left by our protagonist) is a focal point. Sure, stopping the threat altogether is top priority, but the next should be a message of "stay away". Now, of course, we have learned that such a message is ignored by every major corporation in the Alien universe, so why bother? Yet, we are going to be presented with yet another cliche crew sent out into the stars unbeknownst of their eventual gruesome deaths because no one wants to communicate, even if the catalyst is an inordinate amount of greed we've come to expect from real and fictional conglomerates alike.

© 2020 Sickle and Efrit | Dalton Vanhooser & Kyle Hagan