It’s Movie Time: Contact

As always, Spoiler Alert

Every time I watch Contact, I wonder why I don’t watch it more often. Then I press play, and within minutes think to myself, “Oh yeah. That’s why.” It’s not that it’s a bad movie. In fact, it’s an excellent movie. But as I watch Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), as she searches for, and ultimately finds, evidence of alien life, I do spend the vast majority of the film being pissed off.

I get pissed off because of the chauvinism Ellie faces as a woman in a STEM field.

I get pissed off because science is hamstrung by religion.

I get pissed off because science is hamstrung by politics.

I get pissed off because people twist things to mean what they want them to mean.

I get pissed off because once people decide what something means, they refuse to entertain the idea that there might be another way to look at it.

I get pissed off because people say what they know those in power want to hear, in order to get what they want.

I get pissed off for so. many. reasons. And this viewing, there was a new one to add to the list. Because Contact features an eccentric, space-obsessed billionaire named Hadden (John Huston), and every time he’s onscreen, all I can think of is Jeff Fucking Bezos. (He’s even bald, for fuck sake!) Bezos is a front runner in my Person I Hate The Most category – at this point, only Putin is giving him a run for his money – and every time Hadden’s in a scene, my blood pressure goes through the roof.

I think what it gets down to is that I’m too personally invested in many of the film’s subjects to be able to just sit back and enjoy it. I’m an atheist and an anti-theist, and get angry at the consideration religion is given over something it should have no say in. I follow politics closely and am civically active, and get angry at the way the governmental organizations we’ve developed hobble society instead of propel it forward. I’m a humanist, and get angry at a system so flawed it allows the existence of billionaires while others live in poverty.

What I’m not is a scientist. But I love science, and I ‘get’ Ellie. Contact contains a fantastic scene, among my favourite sequences ever put to film, where Ellie first hears the signal that ultimately proves to be alien contact. Her excitement and energy is infectious, but the attention she gives to the scientific process never wavers as she collects evidence to determine whether or not the signal is what she hopes it is.

Ultimately, Ellie’s world is the one I want to live in. Contact reminding me at every turn that it isn’t is the reason that, outstanding a movie as it is, I just can’t watch it.

To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.

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