Some friends of mine invited me over for dinner the other day.
“Mr. Bob, Mr. Bob!” Their excited 8-year old son, Tony, ran up to me. He was always excited to see me, probably because he thought that it was neat that I acted a lot like him.
“Mr. Bob, did you ever see the movie Total Recall? My dad let me watch it and there was this part where there was an alien and the alien, she had THREE BOOBS!”
Of course I saw Total Recall, and of course I remember the character with three boobs–her name was Mary, played by Lycia Naff in the 199o film with Arnold Schwarzenegger; in the 2012 remake, Mary was played by Kaitlyn Leeb.
But I was appalled that little Tony thought she was an alien.
Mary was not an alien. She was a mutant. And did Tony understand why she was a mutant? Of course not, because my friends Marc and Sarah had failed as parents.
Mary was a mutant–as many of the colonists on Mars were–because the mining companies did not install protective glass to keep the colonists–their workers–safe from solar radiation. Generations of workers were sacrificed in order to maximize profits. Thus, Mary had a physical deformity paid for by the greed of an interplanetary mining conglomerate.
But Tony didn’t see injustice. He just saw three boobs. Tony didn’t see a human being who suffered under the oppression of plutocrats and oligarchs. He just saw an alien with three boobs. He didn’t see Mary, a woman who was forced to sell her body because of the extreme poverty forced upon her by a corporatist state more interested in profits over people. He just saw three boobs that were for sale.
What of the mutants’ struggle for their dignity? What of their fight against an unjust society that saw them simply as commodities to be bought and sold, as wage-slaves, sex-slaves, or worse? Robbed of their dignity in their oppression, the state robbed them of their dignity in their liberation, dismissing them as “terrorists” or “criminals.”
I acted like a grown-up for a change and did what my friends had failed to do.
“Tony,” I said, sitting him down next to me on the couch, “her name was Mary, and she was a revolutionary who spoke up for the poor and oppressed. She struggled to scatter the proud rulers of Mars and lift the dignity of the mutants who suffered under their oppression. She fought to overthrow the mighty and powerful of Mars so that the poor could eat and live in dignity. She was a noble woman, and her name was Mary. Do you understand?”
“Well, I guess, Mr. Bob,” Tony mumbled unconvincingly. After a few moments of thought, he sprang to his feet. “But wasn’t it cool when the alien guy was actually part of the guy’s stomach and the soldiers shot him in the head?”
Will our youth ever learn?