Scifi Movies/Future of Gender in Film
QUESTION: Do you know about any films that contemplate the future of gender or genders in the future?!?
That's a very good question! Do you mean gender-bending, or just exploration of gender in general?
Off-hand, there isn't a whole lot of gender contemplation in the sci-fi movies that I am aware of (and I have a pretty broad awareness).
There is a Japanese animated movie like this: http://www.allmovie.com/movie/maze-v210413
But that may not be serious enough for your purposes. There is also this spin on the Jekyll & Hyde story, which is kind of sci-fi (but not in the future): http://www.allmovie.com/movie/dr-jekyll-and-sister-hyde-v14557
There is a comedy like this: http://www.allmovie.com/movie/vegas-in-space-v132956
And then of course there is the famous Star Trek: TNG episode, where Commander Riker falls in love with a hermaphrodite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Outcast_
If you like, I can do some more research and perhaps find some more examples. Or I can give you some (better!) examples from science fiction literature rather than movies.
Let me know if you want to delve deeper.
- Tue Sorensen
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QUESTION: Thanks Tue!!
I would love further assistance. Maybe I should give you some context and that would help: I'm teaching a summer course called "Tomorrow Today: Political Economy and Culture of the Future." Its not so much sci fi as futurecasting and following trendlines, etc., though I see huge overlaps of course. We watched Sleep Dealer, and for one reason or another (mostly project prioritizing) we cancelled the other films (which included Wall-E, I, Robot, and Matrix (not super heavy hitters, but they bring up some issues worth discussing and compliment some of the other materials); I had also considered Blade Runner and Gattica among others). But in the end I promised the students one more film. We had some good discussions on the future of capitalism, and of race and racism, and I really wanted to think together out loud about the future of gender through film. We have two interesting articles on the topic and I've found a very short film, but wanted some kind of longer narrative for us to get wrapped up in.
I do appreciate you taking the time to help.
PS you are welcome to send of list of literature on this topic as I think I will be further developing and expanding this course. If I use anything you suggest I'll be sure to credit you and All Experts!
If you have seen "Sleep Dealer", perhaps you have also come across the other recent Mexican sci-fi movie "By Day and By Night"? I have reviewed it here: http://flickfeast.co.uk/reviews/film-reviews/day-night-2010-2/
While I had a good bit of criticism against it, it is still a serious and thought-provoking movie that you might be able to use in class (if it is available). Its ideas about gender roles mostly concern a different and rather improbable kind of parenting, where no affection is supposed to be shown.
I am a bit of a futurist, philosopher and aspiring sci-fi writer myself (as well as a trained historian), and I have philosophized heavily about gender role questions, among other things. The popular cliché that women are emotional and men are rational is actually, I believe, a deeply founded set of gender identities, first constructed in pre-history and having crystallized in the Antiquity, with men being rational strategists and thinkers, and women being lustful and undisciplined, unless tamed by virtue and domesticity. This is also a great cause of misogyny and the archetype of the "femme fatale", and I call this mindset "fatal love" - it is the first of three stages of gender role construction in human cultural evolution.
In the Middle Ages, we have the rise of courtly love - the second stage - which is the first idealization of the woman, whose beauty and virtue are then sought by a devoted knight. Centuries later, this popular cliché of chivalry then leads to the subsequent romantic and bourgeois perception of women as chaste and virtuous (before, and sometimes also after, marriage). This perception is what still prevails today, with a continued focus on romance and fidelity in a relationship.
The third stage, which I call "Beauty" (in the poetic and philosophical sense), is a future unification of reason and emotion, and therefore also of the male and the female; a new and deeper understanding, equality and shared experience between the genders, which also entails a much broader concept of love, extending to all people and all the world, rather than just a single romantic partner. This is going to come from a deeper scientific understanding of human nature, by way of neurology and the discovery of how emotions and the mind work.
As for literature, the British science fiction author Iain M. Banks has a series of books called the Culture Novels, about a distant future society. Among other things, it is possible there to change gender. If they feel like it, they take a medical treatment which over the course of weeks or months gradually change them into the opposite gender. That's the main example I can think of now, but there are plenty of gender issues explored in science fiction written by women; these are some very useful links that can get you started:
I've run out of time for today, but feel free to continue to query me if you have more on your mind. :-)
- Tue Sorensen