Martin Scorsese angered global nerddom a few years ago by asserting that today’s comic-book movies don’t really count as cinema, since they don’t achieve the kind of “aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation” we associate with the art form’s masters. Scorsese was right, of course. These franchise flicks endlessly recycle the same schlocky mythology about men and women in tights, with stories and ideas not much deeper than softcore porn plots.
But there are a very few exceptions, and a more charitable Scorsese might have taken note of these. One is Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, with its gripping if not exactly subtle meditations on the War on Terror (The Dark Knight, 2008) and class war (The Dark Knight Rises, 2012). Another is Logan, the 2017 Wolverine movie featuring one of the most chillingly plausible portraits of American dystopia ever put to the digital screen.
Put it this way: In Logan we might just glimpse what the world will look like once the Covid dust settles.
In 2029, when the film’s events take place, everything goes on as before, more or less, but everything has just gotten…shittier. There is still an American economy. The dollar has not collapsed. Vegas still glitters. Agribiz still mass-produces something like food. But everything is colder, more inhumane and alienating. The population is aging. Dr. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is a bit senile. Large corporations lord over society as they did before, only more. You go along.
One of the film’s most unforgettable scenes has our protagonists trying to navigate Midwestern highways while humongous, heavily armored autonomous trucks whiz by at eye-watering speeds. These machines barrel onward to their destinations, taking no pity on anyone else trying to share the road. They are at once incredible feats of man’s technological mind—and incredibly mindless. You can’t reason or negotiate with these things. You can’t appeal to their sense of mercy. They are utterly impersonal and ruthlessly efficient.
If some Silicon Valley sorcerers have their way, autonomous trucks like those in Logan may, in fact, come to dominate the North American roadway, killing the jobs of the nearly 4 million Americans who work as truck drivers. Such a transformation would be of a piece with other shifts that were underway before Covid erupted and have been supercharged by the West’s pandemic response.
The general tendency is toward discipling, if not erasing, the human element—especially where the human element might inconveniently resist the world our elites wish to bring into being. Lockdowns and business restrictions, for example, just happened to target small biz, but not the Walmarts and Amazons of the world. Workers in retail, service and similar industries, meanwhile, are required to quite literally efface themselves and to stand partitioned off from the people they serve. Trucking ideally would be totally automated, but for now, truckers must be made to submit to the vaccine mandate.
Well, that last group isn’t having it. In Canada, truckers have been making themselves seen and loudly heard, rallying a mass convoy to Ottawa that has apparently sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau into seclusion (he claims he has contracted Covid). Similar convoys are rolling into power centers in Europe, as well. This is as organic and peaceful and compelling as working-class causes get, yet as the Marxist writer Edwin Aponte notes at the Bellows, the professional and media left is trying its best to ignore the movement or frame it as “fascist” and “racist.”
These false and stupid charges ring increasingly hollow, especially as more people discern what’s really at stake in the battles of the Covid and post-Covid eras: namely, defending the human element—man as a rational, political animal—that global elites would seek to mask, mandate, automate, and social-distance out of existence.
Honk for the freedom-truckers.