Suzanne's Take: A Social Commentary

August 14, 1997

This is a good day to start writing. I just saw Contact. For the first time, a Hollywood blockbuster is portraying the mind-filled universe that awaits our discovery as beautiful beyond describing. Plot-wise, Contact is cartoon-like: God is but a yes/no question, lovers who re-meet are immediately inseparable years after a one-night stand, and an eyeball-popping weirdo who obviously will cause trouble is unnoticed at the launch of a space-probe. And, there's still the good guys and the bad guys here on earth. But Carl Sagan, in the book on which the film is based, burst us into the awesome majesty of a star system which contains nary a whisper of a war-threat. In the grand scheme of things, where we define ourselves as ants or eagles, that's a transformative move.

The adversarial world, with which we are familiar, was in vivid evidence when I saw Contact. Every preview for upcoming films was permeated by violence: driving music, guns, explosions, car crashes, screams and shrieking, blood everywhere -- and the movies all were rated PG. The schizophrenia of our time also was embedded in this viewing experience, in that in real life Sagan had turned his back on evidence that we already have of other life in the universe. He curiously resembled the film's close-minded officials in his unwillingness to acknowledge laboratory reports on the crop circle phenomenon and research data on alien abductions that point to something "other" already going on.

As art mirrors life, let's hope Contact indicates we are approaching a fundamental change, when we will not be self-absorbed and oppositional. That the movie is so popular hopefully reflects our maturing into a consciousness where we are in a reverence for life that will be a spiritualized next-phase of human existence.

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