© 2015 CTMG, Inc. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

While I have always been a fan of Neill Blomkamps previous work (District 9, Elysium), his latest movie, CHAPPiE, takes good cinema and story telling alot futher. The themes present within CHAPPiE and the questions it asks are refreshing in amongst the formulaic and predictable cinema that exists today.

Most of society believes our species is the only one that matters, the only one worth existing, superior to everything else. We struggle with anything different; a xenophobia that throughout history has struggled with race, religion and sexuality. We consider ourselves unique and superior as a result of an unfounded belief that we are the only species with consciousness. If anything threatens this idea, we wage wars and enforce servitude for the purpose of dominance and superiority.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau points out in the opening of The Social Contract, ‘Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains’, which only emphases the restriction that learnt behaviour has in comparison to natural instinct. As highlighted within the frames of CHAPPiE, the innate behaviour is to care for all living existence, not destroy it. Throughout the story the only imposition of violence on others is for superiority and dominance, carried out by those who have only known violence. CHAPPiE successfully explores the idea that violence is learnt behaviour, with his innocence corrupted by humanity and its superiority complex.

Most cinema that introduces artificial intelligence does so with the view that it will cause the end of human existence, while Blomkamp does the opposite, making the statement that the biggest threat to human existence is a degraded state of humanity. We shouldn’t be fearful of others, we should be fearful of ourselves.

One of the more compelling scenes within the movie is where Deon is having a personal conversation with Chappie, who is resting with his back against the wall exhibiting human body language. As Chappie develops throughout the story, you begin to care for him, you get worried, you feel for him. If you didn’t feel these things you need to take a strong hard look at your humanity and your empathy.

I’m sure everyone faces the same dilemma; what music do I run to? What is going to keep me motivated and energised?
In years gone by I’ve always settled on a mix of dance music, synthpop, and electronic to keep me going, but sometimes it either gets boring, or I’m not in the mood for it. The end result is that my running ability is hindered.

A while ago I had read an idea (can’t remember where) about listening to video game music while studying. The idea is that the music is designed to stimulate your mind and allow you to concentrate without distracting you. So, after getting bored of my stagnating gym playlist, I loaded up the soundtracks from the Final Fantasy game series (I-XII), most of which was composed by Nobuo Uematsu. I chose these soundtracks because these are the games I spent my childhood with, I have some emotional connection to the songs, and the games are full of personal challenges and stories of conviction.

I set off for my first run in well over a month and it was better than I expected. Despite fatigue, shortness of breath and a genuine lack of fitness, the music did exactly what it was supposed to do: it kept me calm and focused. The best part is that I never skipped a tune, something I did all to often with my previous playlist.
I have been for a number of runs since, and despite the fatigue I spent most of the run smiling. I was genuinely enjoying the run, which is something I have not done for a long time.

While I can guarantee this will not work for everyone, but for me … it has been liberating.

We realise it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books…. in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.C.S. Lewis (1961) An Experiment in Criticism

The Church attitude is that civilization, or ‘the system’ or ‘society’ or whatever you want to call it, is best served not by mules but by free men. The purpose of abolishing grades and degrees is not punish mules or get rid of them but to provide an environment in which that mule can turn into a free man.

The hypothetical student, still a mule, would drift around for a while. He would get another kind of education quite as valuable as the one he’d abandoned, in what used to be called the ‘school of hard knocks.’ Instead of wasting money and time as a high-status mule, he would now have to get a job as a low-status mule, maybe a mechanic. Actually his real status would go up. He would be making a contribution for a change. Maybe that’s what he would do for the rest of his life. Maybe he’d found his level. But don’t count on it.

In time – six months; five years, perhaps – a change could easily begin to take place. He would become less and less satisfied with a kind of dumb, day-to-day shop work. His creative intelligence, stifled by too much theory and too many grades in college, would now be reawakened by the boredom of the shop. Thousands of hours of frustrating mechanical problems would have made him more interested in machine design. He would like to design machinery himself. He’d think he could do a better job. He would try modifying a few engines, meet with success, look for more success, but feel blocked because he didn’t have the theoretical information. He would discover that when before he felt stupid because of his lack of interest in theoretical information, he’d now find a brand of theoretical information he’d have a lot of respect for, namely mechanical engineering.
So he would come back to our degreeless and gradeless school, but with a difference. He’d no longer be a grade-motivated person. He’d be a knowledge-motivated person. He would need no eternal pushing to learn. His push would come from inside. He’d be a free man. […]

Motivation of this sort, once it catches hold, is a ferocious force, and in the gradeless, degreeless institution where our student would find himself, he wouldn’t stop with rote engineering information. Physics and mathematics were going to come within his sphere of interest because he’d see he needed them.
Pirsig, Robert (1974) Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The argument for and against marriage equality is constantly heated, emotional and at times, misguided and bigoted. The main themes argued against equality either have religious foundations in the definition of ‘Marriage’, or claim that same-sex couples are insufficient as parents. Regardless of the arguments basis, they are all filled with varying degrees of prejudice. It’s not unexpected given that acceptance of homosexuality has only really started within the last 20 years.

Meanwhile in Australia, funds are being cut from social services, education, and environmental protection due to a perceived lack of funding. So what if we could solve both of these problems? What if we take the emotion, religion, value and prejudice out of the equation and focus only on the economics?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the census in 2011 registered 33714 same-sex couples living together, with no information available on the number of same-sex couples that don’t live together. This is a 32% increase in comparison to the 2006 data1. I think it is safe to assume that in any five year period this rate of change will hold steady as a conservative value.

So how much money can be made from these statistical values? According to Australian Securities and Investments Commission the average wedding in Australia costs $362002. So by enabling marriage equality an additional $1.22 billion can be pushed into the Australian economy by existing couples alone3, and a further $78 million every year for new couples. So what does the Government get out of this? A GST revenue of $122 million for existing couples, and an additional $7.8 million every year.

So if money is so short we need to cease University fee assistance (HECS-HELP) to save $87.1 million over three years4, along with taking $2.8 million away from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority5 (just to name a few of the cuts), why are we not looking at simple ways to generate that revenue?

Given the current political climate in Australia where cuts are being made across the board, why isn’t this financial opportunity being pounced on?

What is more important? The oppression of a slice of society and the denial of equality, or generating much needed government revenue?

It is a farce that the support our societies have for marriage equality isn’t shared by the Governments they are represented by. It’s also a shame that the simple argument for equality, inclusion and love are not enough. So when the value of equality falls on deaf ears, the only remaining value understood by a Government is funding.

 

1Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2012). 2071.0 – Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census. [online] Abs.gov.au. Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0main+features852012-2013 [Accessed 22 Nov. 2014].
2Australian Securities and Investments Comission, (2014). How much can a wedding cost?. [online] Moneysmart.gov.au. Available at: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting/simple-ways-to-save-money/how-much-can-a-wedding-cost [Accessed 22 Nov. 2014].
3Assuming all couples would marry.
4Australian Government, (2014). Budget 2014-15 – Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures – Part 2: Expense Measures – Education. [online] Budget.gov.au. Available at: http://www.budget.gov.au/2014-15/content/bp2/html/bp2_expense-09.htm [Accessed 22 Nov. 2014].
5Australian Government, (2014). Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures – Part 2: Expense Measures – Environment. [online] Budget.gov.au. Available at: http://www.budget.gov.au/2014-15/content/bp2/html/bp2_expense-11.htm [Accessed 22 Nov. 2014].