Wednesday, 18 January 2012

#36 The Lynx Ark Advert: The Price of Survival


I’ll be honest with you, this week has not been the most productive of weeks and I haven’t found as much time to work on the blog as I should. But, skipping a week this soon into the new year would look bad. What I need is a really, really short apocalyptic movie- preferably one with an elaborate apocalypse survival strategy that I could pick apart. After all, we’ve seen the apocalyptic survival strategies of the super rich, the big society approach to apocalypse survival and ways for atheists to cope with a Biblical apocalypse. So a variation on that theme would be good.
Yep, this is exactly the sort of subtle symbolism I want to analyse
Fortunately, a certain group of creatives has seen fit to provide me with just that. Unfortunately, it’s in the form of an advert for a company I have a longstanding grudge against. See, back in 2003 this company unleashed an ad campaign under the slogan “Men’s sweat only attracts other men”. Despite a determined letter writing campaign on my behalf, they never issued a retraction to warn young gay and bisexual men that no, their BO is still massively off-putting, probably resulting in many disappointed, lonely and sweaty young men.

For this reason, I want to make sure that this review doesn’t inadvertently lead to this company getting a bunch of hits or an SEO keyword boost. So throughout this review I’m going to be linking to their site using a variety of insulting phrases, while never mentioning their brand name, or what they actually sell. Vengeance is a dish best served cold.

That said, here is that one minute long apocalyptic movie, as brought to you by the smell of your taint.

It’s a terrifying story. Regular readers will know that apocalyptic fiction is often used to show the darker side of human nature. Whether it’s the way that horrific events can bring out our worst instincts, or that in the end the biggest threats to our species aren’t apocalyptic catastrophes, but ourselves. This film, brought to us by the smell of a high school changing room, is the story of a psychopath’s mission to exploit the imminent apocalypse to create what can only be described as a floating hell for his passengers. Cleverly, the film resists the urge to show us this character’s dreadful comeuppance, instead simply leaving it implied.

Only the pure will survive
The film’s anti-hero is clearly a fan of Judeo-Christian imagery, building a kind of modern “Noah’s Ark”. However, the way these plans are executed hints at an extremely warped and disturbing world-view, on a par with the mad scientist in Human Centipede, or the killer from the Saw movies. He is a perfectly realised character, and even his tiniest actions show us his twisted vision of the world. Even an innocent act like carving a shape into a potato shows us his entire perception of womankind.
It's this. This is his perception of womankind.
As in the Bible, our anti-hero has his ship’s passengers, or maybe cargo is a better word, board the ship two by two.

This is the most obvious sign of the man’s sinister world view. Given that his passengers are entirely human women, and completely ignoring the implication that this man clearly sees women as animals, just what sort of “twos” is he dividing them up into? Nationality? Ethnic origin? The pairs we see have similar hairstyles and do appear to be paired up by race. This is in a situation that already has a very nasty whiff of eugenics about it. After all these are women with no visible disabilities, who fall within a very specific body-type and conform to a certain idea of beauty

But perhaps the most sinister aspect of his selection process is the question: Why does he need two of each type? In the original story, this was so the animals could breed. Since that’s biologically impossible here, the only possible conclusion is that the man needs a spare of each type... for some reason.
You know, in case one of his goths get broken...
Voyage of the damned
However, as is common in apocalypse fiction, you only realise the true horror of the situation once you begin to inspect the background. In Shaun of the Dead, the zombie apocalypse is happening right behind the protagonists for the whole first act. While playing Left 4 Dead, we only gather the true scope of the apocalypse when we see the constant presence of health warnings, barricades and abandoned military equipment.

In this film it is only when we look at the boat our protagonist is building that we realise just what a nightmarish future he is envisioning for the women who join him.

Perhaps our first clue is when we see the accommodation these women will be sleeping in. Except of course, at this point in the film we don’t know that this accommodation is built for women to sleep in. Going along with the Noah’s ark narrative, you might think that this boat is built for animals. If this is the case, it seems perfectly ordinary that the man is building them HUTCHES. Yes, the homogeneously shaped but ethnically diverse women will survive the coming end of the world, so long as they are willing to live in HUTCHES.

Okay, so maybe he wants to save as many women as possible and this is the most space-efficient way he can do it, and if he awards himself a little more luxury as captain, well, who can blame him? It’s his boat.
They get little curtains, what are you complaining about?
But as we see him build this boat, we get a horrifying glimpse of just what these women’s lives will be like. Aside from the hutches these women will sleep in, we see one other room.

Exercise bikes. There’re weights as well, but the exercise bikes are the focal point of the room. What are they there for?

I’ve got two theories. The most obvious theory is that, having gathered these prime physical specimens, he doesn’t want them to let themselves go when the floods come pouring in. There’s clearly not that much room on the boat, and the women are living in ACTUAL HUTCHES. But really, are they that likely to get fat? Given what we know about our main character so far, does he really seem like the sort to lay on massive feasts for these women?

No. The truth is far more sinister, and the clue is glimpsed in the very next shot.

We cut from the exercise bikes, to the record player. Taking its cues from Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series, in this film the women are expected to run the exercise bikes to generate the ship’s electricity.

Life for these women is going to be grim. Their days will be spent slogging away at the exercise bikes that will give you splinters in places where you do not want to have splinters, just to keep their overlord’s creature comforts running. Their nights are spent cooped up in an actual hutch, unless the Captain has decided that he wants to bed one of them for the night.

Because, putting it bluntly, this is a rape ship. We already know that this man sees women as nothing more than animals, and the only part of them he really sees is their orifices. The only reason any woman would sign up to be on this boat, the only reason why they could possibly all be queuing up while this man covers himself in what I can only assume is some sort of spray-on cooking oil, is that they know the world is going to end, and this boat is their only hope to survive. If you sleep with someone because the only alternative is death, that’s rape.

The future of our species
The film ends leaving us to ponder the future of this doomed vessel. It could very well mark the end of our entire species- a gene pool where everyone shares the same father is going to lead to all kinds of disorders later down the line.

And yet, there is hope. As we’ve already noted, this man sees women as nothing more than animals, less than animals really. The hutches have no doors, there’s no security, no real way of enforcing his dreadful regime. It’s as if this man not only has total contempt for women, but is actually incapable of conceiving of the idea that they might have any will of their own.

It is this fatal flaw that will lead to the women banding together to overthrow him. Then hopefully they’ll keel-haul the fucker.
Think of it as a sort of post-apocalyptic Amistad


  1. I think rather than keelhaul him, they'll chain him up and rape him regularly so that the future generations of babies with disorders can be born. It's not fair, but he is, after all, their only source of semen.

    I hope he remembered to make some fishing rods, or the next terrible question is - what will they eat?

  2. Hutches! LMFAO! AND a tag that reads Burnt Dog Hair Smell! EPIC!