Movies and Scientific Accuracy (Microbiology Today)

Originally published: November 2017maxresdefault.jpg

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a virus.

In Planet of the Apes (1968) Charlton Heston faced a future of intelligent apes in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust but in the 2011 re-launch of the franchise – Rise of the Planet of the Apes – the fall of humanity follows a global pandemic that kills 1 in 10 humans whilst heightening ape intelligence. Although Rise of the Planet of the Apes falters in accurately representing the processes of science it does have a striking visualisation of the spread of the ‘Simian Flu’ – an unintended side effect of an attempt to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an example of recent film and TV that shows that lab-engineered outbreaks have replaced the nuclear holocaust on screens as the imagined and expected end of humanity. Science and scientists are central to causing and perhaps saving humanity from extinction. Continue reading “Movies and Scientific Accuracy (Microbiology Today)”

You gotta make way for the Homo Superior: Mutation, Evolution, and Super Powers on Screen

Originally posted: February 2015

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Detail from the title sequence from X-Men: First Class

Recently I went to a fascinating research seminar on the history of the theory of mass extinction and the human fears of and impact on extinction given by historian of biology, Dr David Sepkoski (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin) at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (University of Manchester). It got me thinking about not only imagined extinction in fiction (I’ve researched/written about Planet of the Apes’ and its post-human/post-apocalyptic worlds), but also about how some recent science fiction shows, predominately in the Marvel (MCU) and DC storyworlds, have drawn upon human fears of extinction and being replaced (and thus super threatened) by another human race (or more specifically, a secondarily evolving hominin species). The fear isn’t of an invading species of aliens, or the rise of intelligent apes – but a threat that is much closer to home, a threat from within human DNA (what Kirby [2007] refers to as ‘the Devil in our DNA’). Continue reading “You gotta make way for the Homo Superior: Mutation, Evolution, and Super Powers on Screen”

If She Can See It, She Can Be It: Women of STEM on Television

Originally posted: July 2015

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She is science (Cosima/Maslany)

I am a self-proclaimed Orphan Black geek monkey and I am obsessed with Clone Club (and their marvelous dance parties). When I first started to explore the representation of women in science in entertainment media I wrote a blog post on the subject to help organize my thoughts on how and where women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) were represented. I got a great response from people who read the article and received lots of tweets about the mysterious Cosima Niehaus. After a quick google I binge-watched the first two seasons of Orphan Black (an almost entirely female-led science-based series) and excitedly watching seasons three on four on TV. Continue reading “If She Can See It, She Can Be It: Women of STEM on Television”

Welcome back to humanity. Now you get to die: Vampires and… Science?

Originally posted: September 2014

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From the slayer to the scientist. From slaying to saving.

Do vampire narratives become science fiction when vampirism is created or/and ‘cured’ by science? Whether benevolent, malicious, or uncontrolled, science is rivalling if not, in some cases, entirely replacing the supernatural as the most prevalent component of recent vampire narratives. Where once there was a vampire slayer and her pointy stick there are now scientists armed with vaccines and syringes. Continue reading “Welcome back to humanity. Now you get to die: Vampires and… Science?”

Nature Strikes Back: The Return of an Eco-Conscious Cinema?

Originally posted: November 2014

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Splitting the Sea with SCIENCE! – Exodus (2014)

At the 2014 Film & History conference I presented my current research in a paper called ‘From Sacred to Scientific: Charlton Heston’s Second Golden Age’. The fascinating post-paper discussion revolved around eco dystopian cinema, with a focus on my work on Soylent Green and Omega Man. Following a discussion of the connections between epics and science fiction, and the recent attempts to give religious films a contemporary scientific twist I was asked if I thought that the new religious epics constituted a new science fiction. Continue reading “Nature Strikes Back: The Return of an Eco-Conscious Cinema?”