Friday, December 11, 2015

Movie Proposal: Men in Black: Revolution

The movie wouldn't be about aliens.  Oh, the aliens would be there, but it's not about them.  No, this is a movie about human beings.

Human beings who have been violated, repeatedly, and robbed of even the ability to recognize or object to that violation.

The lies aren't the problem.  The fact that a self appointed agency that recognizes neither national sovereignty, individual liberty, or bodily autonomy is doing whatever the fuck it wants whenever the fuck it wants and woe betide anyone who stands in their way is not the problem.

Yes, these things are problems, but they're not the problem

It's the neuralyzer.

Every mission that the Men in Black ever go on, no matter how small, even when it's talking to a lonely housewife who no one's ever going to believe after she's told the police and the media everything she knows and thus cannot possibly cause any harm to the secret, involves reaching into the minds of people (with varrying degrees of innocence) ripping out what the Men in Black want, and shoving something new in.

When they recruit a new member they rip out the minds of every person who ever knew that recruit which means rewriting years upon years of peoples lives.  Hell, for some people (ones younger than the recruit obviously, especially children) it's going to be their entire god damned life that is ripped from their brain and replaced with something else.
You don't understand. Have you ever had someone take your brain and play? Take you out and stuff something else in? You know what it's like to be unmade?
- Clint Barton (Hawkeye) describing the kinder,
gentler, more humane, less nightmare enducing
mind control used Marvel's The Avengers.
The Men in Black are a group of people of purest evil, and while aliens being here on earth is something that the population could quickly adapt to with little difficulty, the revelation of innumerable extreme and horrific violations of bodily autonomy is somewhat different.

Most people are able to shut out the real life horrors of the real world because those horrors are things done to other people and there are seemingly endless ways to rationalize, "It couldn't happen to me."

Not so with this.  Agent Kay once "unmade", to use Barton's euphemism because our language has no word to describe the twisted and utterly evil thing that Kay actually did, the entire fucking population of New York City with the press of a button.

One second.  Less than a second.  8.4 million people unmade.

Of course some populations are more at risk than others.  In the first movie we see the Men in Black attacking border patrol and the NYPD.  The feds and the locals.  What are the odds they attack those without going for state agencies as well?

That's law enforcement (they mind control the people with guns, no wonder they're so terrified of being found out) for the longest time most alien sightings in the US were coming from the Air Force.  You know that the military has been unmade.  Civilian pilots of course.   Air traffic control no doubt.  Anyone who has ever set foot in NORAD beyond all doubt.

The IRS for sure.  They're too busy keeping track of shit to not be unmade on a regular basis.

For the aliens to be able to blend they need history that checks out.  So for each of them some high school somewhere has to remember child version of alien being in classes said alien.  It takes a village, really.

As noted above, everyone who ever met one of their employees before said employee was hired is unmade.  This involves individuals receiving decades worth of unmaking.  Some people, especially children, might end up without a single day's worth of real memories left in their head.

Ever been to a major city? Maybe you were unmade when someone pulled a Kay.  Ever been near a meteor, an aurora, the lights of a plane reflected in a weird way by clouds, swamp glass, a weather balloon?  Are you sure?  How do you know that's what it was?  How do you know you weren't unmade?

Ever done something that seemed out of character?  Telltale sign of unmaking.

Ever made a decision that changed the course of your life?  What makes you think that you were the one who made that decision?

All levels of government have been compromised, the ones who were supposed to protect you were the ones being serial victimized in order to prevent them from protecting you.

Remember all of those times people have knocked on your door and annoyed you for this or that reason?  What makes you think even one of them was real?  Every single one of them could have been cover for a visit from the MiBs.  They can make you remember things that never happened, even if you track down the person who you remember knocking on your door on X occasion and they remember you and remember the meeting the exact same way, it doesn't mean it happened.

A thousand ordinary things are now grounds to believe you're a victim and any discrepancy in your life is grounds to believe that you were royally fucked over as opposed victim to one of the smaller scale unmakings that happen constantly, all around the world, every day.

Had a religious experience?  How do you know?  Joined a church, left a church, quit high school drama club, realized you were an atheist, come to an unexpected realization about yourself?  That's what you think.  Sorry, thought.  Before you learned that a group of people who had the power to change what you remember, think, and believe have been running roughshod over the very souls of the entire human population of earth.

Your government doesn't count for shit.  You don't even know if you even voted for who you think you voted for.  You don't even know if there's even such a thing as election day.  You don't know if you had the same identity yesterday that you have today.

Memory is suspect, identity is suspect, beliefs, thoughts, principles, emotions, everything that makes you you might be a lie.

But there is a bright side.

You know who to blame.

You know who to blame.  The conspiracy theorists know who to blame, the government knows who to blame, the anti government militias know who to blame, the military knows who to blame, the CIA, NSA and FBI have never been so united in knowing exactly who to blame.  The terrorists know who to blame.  The freedom fighters know who to blame.  The oppressors and oppressed alike know who to blame.

Countries that are sworn enemies don't even know if they really hate each other, or if that was part of their unmaking, but what they do know for sure and without doubt, is who to blame.

The entire world knows who to blame.  Everything has been stripped from them leaving nothing but insecurity, confusion, pain, and violation, but like various other animals when they feel hurt, helpless, and hopeless human beings often channel their fear and anger into something that feels like it might help: lashing out.  And they know who to blame.

Well, some people would miss the target and think the aliens were to blame.  But most people, when attacked, are pissed off at the attacker and don't particularly care how the attacker rationalizes the attack to themselves.  So most people would know who was to blame.

The Men in Black are to blame.

Of course, the Men in Black have the technology and resources to dominate the entire world and crush any force sent against them.  Even if that force is ... everyone, all at once, in a single united front.

And once they're done, it's not like anyone will remember that there was a battle in the first place.  Even if they do, they certainly won't remember that Men in Black were involved.  In fact, they say they were founded in the sixties, but on reflection don't the World Wars seem a bit contrived to you?

A World War based on the assassination of an archduke?  One bullet caused all that death?

That's ludicrous.  Doesn't it make more sense if we assume that the obviously bullshit story of how the war came about (swamp gas my ass) was something that the world accepted as true only because they'd been neuralyzed into having memories of it happening that way?

Everyone who ever tried to stop them before was unmade.

Even so, you'd have to try, right?  When "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism" and all that.  Trying to stop the abuse is not just a right, apparently it's a duty.  It says so in a document that my country was founded on.  At least I think it does.  I remember it that way.  The internet says it's that way.  But we know that's not reliable.

When they recruit someone they unmake every person that ever knew the recruits name, they find every copy of every picture the recruit was in[1] as well as every written record of the person [2] and every electronic footprint [3] and alter all of these things, near-simultaneously, and have never once been caught.  At least not that anyone remembers anymore.  Not in a way that left memory or documentation.

[1] Class pictures, yearbooks, facebook, google, family pictures, selfies, pictures a friend might have snapped and never thought to mention, that Six Flags New England picture that I've been getting emails about for years asking me if I want to buy prints of, pictures of public events that someone might use to say, "I'm telling you, I was there with this person you say doesn't exist," and so forth.

[2] Handwriting in the guest book, name on the list of passengers for a flight, junk mail about being pre-approved, hospital records, social security number related shit, selective service induction, drivers licence documentation, medical records, employment records, rental agreement, bank account information, tax records

[3] You know, I'm not even going to try.  There's too fucking much

* * *

The above is if the revelation were suddenly out there, worldwide.  More likely we'd be looking at a small group of people who at first seemed like they're being gaslit or just having a psychotic breaks (The Forgotten and Flightplan did this, I didn't watch them) but they gradually accumulate evidence and find each other.  My preference is to get through this part of the story as fast as possible.

Ash's two minute recap at the start of Army of Darkness fast, if possible.

There was a scene in the trailer for The Forgotten that would work well here, a wall covering was torn off revealing that person who wasn't remembered did in fact exist.  (Mind you, you'd want it to be more than what was in the movie because, seriously, they couldn't have just removed that?  Now a fresco is part of the wall, and thus can't be removed in a hurry, thus the MiBs might cover over it somehow.)

Anyway, quickly get the mind screwy is-this-real-or-not bit out of the way because I personally don't like that shit, there's no point, and there's no suspense there anyway.  "Men in Black" is in the title, we know coming in that these people are right and there are memory erasing, truth hiding people out there.

It's not about realizing the Men in Black exist (that would be Men in Black: Revelation, not Revolution), it's about dealing with those fucking monsters.  (Bonus points if a hideous monstrous looking illegal alien joins up with the good guys, Seegserd could play said character.  The monsters are the all too human Men in Black and, to a lesser extent, the aliens who collude with them.)

As the title suggests, it's about a revolution.  It's about people overthrowing the Men in Black.

Meeting out justice can be dealt with in the sequel, Men in Black: Truth Commission.  That's a forensic and legal drama, of course.

This movie is about an eclectic group of people with stolen sunglasses, cobbled together technology, and justice on their side going up against a seemingly unstoppable force.  And winning.

Note that "an eclectic group of people" does not conflict with the suggestion of aliens on the side of good.  The things are also people.  In fact, one wonders how many of the illegal aliens aren't dangerous at all, they're just people who refuse to be associate with people who use neuralyzers.

The aliens are described as being refugees.  How many refugees might be fleeing from neuralyzer using regimes?  (And how many more might have wanted to but been neuralyzed into forgetting all about that plan and the reasons behind it?)

But, while there may be an alien or two on the team of good guys, this is a movie about human beings.  Human beings who have been viciously mistreated by other human beings finally standing up, fighting, and putting a stop to it.  It's about overthrowing oppressors and really cool action sequences.

* * *

Note, by the way, that all of this portrays the titular "Men in Black" in the most positive of all possible lights.  Specifically, it assumes that no one in the entire history of the organization has ever used a neuralyzer in a way that the agency didn't condone and that the agency has only ever condoned using them to maintain secrecy.

If we consider what someone could do with a neuralyzer if their acts weren't limited to keeping the aliens and the agency secret from the world.  Well darkness, which even the strongest brain bleach cannot remove the stain of, that way lies.


  1. Yes, these things are problems, but they're not *the* problem

    It's the neuralyzer.

    This is the point where I started internally cheering, because yes, so much.

    As I recall, my initial reaction when I first saw Men in Black as a child was "...this is a horror movie, and nobody's noticed". Nobody noticed. I got a toy neuralyser in a Happy Meal*. (I hid it at the bottom of a box in my bedroom, where no one would have to see it.) I was young enough that I don't know whether I was ever exposed to the commercial firsthand, but I definitely later heard of a commercial advertising the movie where the agents neuralyse the fourth wall so the audience can "watch it again for the first time". They played it for laughs, they thought it was funny.

    You know how one of the standard-issue nightmares is being chased by monsters? I get those, but for several years after seeing that movie, the monsters were never beasts: they were always human. Always humans who had decided they didn't want me to know something I knew, and that they had the right to do something about it. When the monsters came for me, they did not wield claws or teeth or guns, but those little silvery sticks.

    How many refugees might be fleeing from neuralyzer using regimes?

    Hmm, let me double-check...yes. In the prologue scene, Kay describes the neuralyser as "A gift from some friends from out of town." The neuralyser is alien technology adapted for use on humans. Some other species came up with it first. Some other world was like this first.

    If we consider what someone could do with a neuralyzer if their acts weren't limited to keeping the aliens and the agency secret from the world. Well darkness, which even the strongest brain bleach cannot remove the stain of, that way lies.

    There is some very horrifying stuff in those implications, and I'm not saying this is on the same level as that, but my first thought was: Men in Black, don't think that you're safe from the shadowy evil organisation just because you're part of it. You live surrounded by people carrying neuralysers. You don't wear shielding every moment of every day, and even if you did, someone you thought you could trust (someone you remembered trusting?) could easily get the jump on you and tear them from your face. In some ways, you should be the most scared of anyone.

    *I think it was technically a Burger King kids' meal, but "Happy Meal" better conveys the connotations I want to convey.

  2. I used to think of memory alteration as rape. These days I think it's closer to murder. If I lose (say) my last ten years of memories, I'm not functionally me any more.