Annihilation: Representation on a Silver Platter
Dear aspiring filmmakers: In an age of generic superhero movies, sequels, and reboots… be someone like Alex Garland.
For the past years, it is becoming increasingly apparent that studios are finally beginning to scratch the surface of the on-screen representation that we desired, be it of women, African-Americans, Latinx-American, LGBT and so on. With the recent successes of indie films such as Moonlight and Tangerine, the larger Hollywood system has recognized the potential of profit, and dove head-on into the conglomerating issue of representation in film.
At first, this may seem like a great thing. Women and minorities are finally going to get the representation they deserve. In part, this is indeed happening. There is only one issue: the resulting big-budget films thus far have been BLAND.
This is a pitch-perfect example of exploitation and catering in the spotlight of a larger issue that goes beyond the heads of company executives. The textbook definition of this audience-catering is exemplified in the latest Ghostbusters movie. There was huge buzz over its all-female cast, and the message it would send to aspiring young actresses and women interested in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The problem is: the movie is terrible. It’s a cringy, horridly acted and directed CGI-fest of a movie.
To put it frankly, this laughing stock is not the representation women and minorities deserve. Even Wonder Woman, which, unlike Ghostbusters, is actually a good movie, tends to be mediocre and generic at several points in the film. All while this madness occurred, there was a film that did everything any representation-activist could ever want, slid right under their feet.
This movie is Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland. Annihilation literally did everything right in terms of representation. The cast, as a whole, was mostly composed of minorities, and entirety of the main cast was all-female. However, this wasn’t a financial decision, it was well thought out and written by the genius director. Everyone had an important role in the film. None of them were worthless side characters created as comic relief or any of that nonsense. But above all else, this film did what Ghostbusters failed to do: it portrayed S.T.E.M. women correctly. All these women (with exception to Gina Rodriguez’s character) have doctorate degrees; experts in their respective fields. Their dialogue perfectly matches how career academics would speak and analyze their surroundings in real life. It isn’t just a bunch of big-words and mumbled garbage.
The fact that this film is blowing over everyone’s heads is simply astounding, as it is the gold standard for representation in the film and television industry. The fact that almost no one saw this movie makes me worry for humanity. Long story short: Annihilation does everything right. Go see it.