What is Critical Race Theory?
Here is how its founders define it in one of its key texts.
Two things have been getting alot of coverage this last couple of weeks; the federal government shutdown and the new movie Bird Box. The one relates to the other.
The shutdown centers on the wall. President Trump wants it. Congressional Democrats won’t let him have it. The shutdown will continue as long as neither side gives way. President Trump argues that the wall is necessary to keep America safe. We cannot keep an open door, he argues, as there are people who would come through it and do us harm.
Right or wrong in the context of US border security policy, a similar argument is made consistently in the new post-apocalyptic thriller Bird Box by Douglas (John Malkovich). He is a pretty standard character for these sorts of survival films, the selfish guy who thinks only of his own survival; think of the son in law in The Towering Inferno. Whenever the survivors encounter new people, banging on the doors pleading to be let in, Douglas recommends sending them away as they will only eat into the group’s supplies or pose some more immediate danger. At one point he gets drunk and claims to be “making the end of the world…great again” I think we’re justified in seeing a political comment here.
But the film shows time and again that Douglas is right. While foraging for supplies at a supermarket, the group hear someone knocking on the door, begging for help. Douglas vehemently argues against opening it but is overruled by Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and Tom (Trevante Rhodes), who believe that leaving the person outside would be inhuman. But, on opening the door, the man outside turns out to be a deranged psycho and, in the struggle to keep him out, warm, cuddly Charlie (Lil Rel Howery) is killed.
Later on, someone turns up at the group’s safe house asking to be let in. Again, Douglas argues against, and, again, he is overruled, as letting the person remain outside would be inhuman. And, again, Douglas is proved right. The guy they let in turns out to be another deranged psycho who ends up killing three people, including Douglas. All told, Malorie and Tom’s superior morality costs four people their lives. Four other people. “Every contact we have had with the outside has brought us death” Douglas says at one point, and, in the context of the film, he is right.
I doubt the makers of Bird Box intended to send this message. But Douglas is an explicitly political character. It is only fair to point out that film makers show him end up not only dead but vindicated as well.
John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.