Dramaturgery: Oblivion

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Braak, movies, reviews
Tags: , , , ,
braak

I saw Oblivion the other day, and will now write about it. This isn’t strictly a review, and it isn’t strictly dramaturgery, but I will review it a little bit, and I will also do dramaturgery on it, so stick around if you like either of those things.

SPOILERS FOLLOW. Serious spoilers, don’t read ahead if you want to be a little surprised.

Tom Cruise is a drone repairman in the future. After he meets a woman that came out of a spacepod, he discovers that the giant robot ship he’s been working for IS the aliens, and the aliens his drones have been blowing up actually are the humans. Then he blows up the mothership. Some things about true love and memories, &c.

The Uncanny Valley of Tom Cruise

In the future, Scientologist roboticists will build a near-perfect simulacra of a human, imbued with all the powers and knowledge of Scientology, and with precision-engineered cheekbones and haircut. He will then be sent back in time to star in vaguely intellectual action movies in which Things Are Not What They Seem. That is Tom Cruise.

While his Running, Being Descended by a Rope, and Jiu-Jutsu modules will function perfectly, certain other modules will not be quite right. These are most noticeable when Tom Cruise does things like “Sits Down to Read a Book,” where he poses in a way that no human being would ever possibly sit in order to read a book, and clearly reveals that he is an android inadequately programmed to mimic human behaviors.

Related problems include, “Tom Cruise Tells a Joke”, in which Tom Cruise says all of the words that constitute a joke, and, indeed, even seems on some level to recognize that a joke is being told – certainly, his facial-expression-algorithms correctly align themselves in a reasonable facsimile of a “Wry Smile” – but no joke is actually told.

This is the Uncanny Valley of Tom Cruise; we probably wouldn’t even notice this sort of thing if he were a rubbery-faced spastic goon like Jim Carrey or Marlon Wayons, but because he, in all other pinpointable ways, resembles a human being, those slight shortcomings in his behavior modules become more pronounced.

I think that at some level, Tom Cruise is best at doing the thing that he is actually doing, as opposed to, say, physically doing one thing while thinking another. He is very good at running, because when you are running, you are also thinking about running. Likewise jiu-jutsu – that’s just how it is. But when you ask him to “Sit In a Chair and Look at this Object” with his body while also “Consider the Semantic Meaning of these Written Words” with his mind, the contradiction is impossible for him to manage. Similarly, sarcasm escapes him – he cannot possibly say one thing while meaning something else.

At one point in Oblivion Tom Cruise stands in front of Vicka (Andrea Risebourough) and looks at her with a pained expression on his face. Vicka touches his head and asks, “What’s going on in there?”
The statement is laughable. It’s obvious what’s going on in there: Tom Cruise is Standing in Front of You and Looking at You with a Pained Expression on His Face.

Questions

Some questions which Oblivion asks us to ponder include:

If the alien spaceship has a tractor beam, why does it capture the command capsule of the ship, but not the sleep capsule?

If the alien spaceship is able to manufacture an army of flying laser-machine-gun robots, why does it take over the world with an army of Tom Cruises?

Likewise, if the alien space ship can build an army of flying laser-machine-gun robots, why doesn’t it just build smaller robots to repair them? What did it do on alien planets that didn’t have Tom Cruise?

If the alien spaceship just wants water, why does it spend so much time and energy invading Earth, instead of just eating a comet or something?

Why did the sleep capsule for a ship bound for Titan first, and for an alien spaceship second, immediately go into orbit around Earth for sixty years once it was disconnected from the main ship?

Why did it then fall to Earth after someone beamed coordinates at it? Was it just waiting for someone to do that? Would any coordinates beamed at it have brought it down?

How did Morgan Freeman know the coordinates of the place he wanted the ship to land?

How did Morgan Freeman know which direction to beam the coordinates?

How did Morgan Freeman know the capsule was even up there?

Why would he think that bringing the capsule down would teach Tom Cruise about aliens? Is it because he thought Tom Cruise had never seen a human before?

If he just wanted Tom Cruise to know about humans, why didn’t he have someone take off their space-mask and just say “Hi” to him?

Why would looking for something on a noisy motorcycle be easier than looking for something in a weird flying space ship thing? That, while admittedly also noisy, at least could fly, and had scanners and things on it?

Why is it that the honorable thing for a man to do is to die against uncertain odds, defending the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods, but the honorable thing for a woman to do is to be tricked out of a valiant death so she can live in the woods and bear children?

Aren’t there 50 other Tom Cruises in this world (at least)? Are they all going to be Olga Kurylenko’s husbands?

Are human beings in fact just fleshy receptacles for memories and as long as cheekbones and a few recollections are the same, are they otherwise interchangeable?

Ultimately, of course, science fiction movies don’t really have to answer questions like that; the whole point of the premise is that we’re supposed to sort of just go along with it, and accept a certain number of functional problems, in the hopes that the story and characters will carry us through towards an interesting idea. And so, we can kind of ignore most of these questions according to the principle that, “I dunno, it was neat,” except for one glaring one:

What the fuck was Olga Kurylenko even doing in this movie?

Dramaturgery

It’s not hard to figure out whether or not you’ve got a character who is dead weight in your movie. Take them one at a time, and think about the role that each one plays in the story. Could this action be accomplished by another character? Could the motivation they provide be provided by something else that you’ve already introduced? Does that action or motivation even need to be there in the first place?

Olga Kurylenko’s character Julia crashlands in a spacepod after Morgan Freeman beams some numbers at it. It turns out that she is Tom Cruise’s wife (Tom Cruise’s character has a name, but in the tradition of Tom Cruise characters, it has all the same aesthetic quality as “Tom Cruise.” Jack Harper or something, I am just going to call him Tom Cruise). Because clones carry the memories of their originals (sure), she causes him to remember…that they were married? Then she tells him that his giant spaceship boss is actually an alien spaceship, that the aliens are the humans and the humans are the invaders, then she dies.

No, wait, then she just gets dragged around for fifty minutes, often in jeopardy, occasionally screaming, always with these sort of preternaturally wide eyes.

(Sometimes, of course, the rule of Character Efficiency works against you – mysteries can be very challenging, if you want a character to have a secret role, since the audience is going to notice when some knucklehead is just hanging around the plot not doing anything; in my opinion, this just means you need to work harder.)

Here, I’m going to do a trick, watch this.

Tom Cruise is a drone repairman. One day, he finds a crash-landed space-pod. In it is Olga Kurylenko and the space-pod’s flight recorder. A drone tries to kill Olga Kurylenko, Tom Cruise saves her. Later, Tom Cruise and Olga Kurylenko go back to the ship and get the flight recorder. Tom Cruise learns from Olga Kurylenko that the humans are the aliens and the aliens are the humans. Tom Crusie meets the humans, then flies his ship with a bomb in it up to the mothership and explodes it.

So, that is roughly what happens in the movie. There’s some other stuff about space-memories or whatever, Morgan Freeman is real impressed with this one time he saw Tom Cruise read a book, and that’s why he tells him the humans’ secret plan to explode the robot ship, but this is the gist of it. Now, look:

Tom Cruise is a drone repairman. One day, he finds a crash-landed space-pod. In it is Olga Kurylenko and the space-pod’s flight recorder. A drone tries to kill Olga Kurylenko, Tom Cruise saves her succeeds. Later, Tom Cruise and Olga Kurylenko go(es) back to the ship and get(s) the flight recorder. Tom Cruise learns from Olga Kurylenko the flight recorder that the humans are the aliens and the aliens are the humans. Tom Crusie meets the humans, then flies his ship with a bomb in it up to the mothership and explodes it.

Same fucking movie, right?

It’s actually not QUITE the same movie. Having Olga Kurylenko in the movie does raise a bunch of questions like, “Why did the alien spaceship capture some of the astronauts, but not all of them?” and “Why would love cause you to remember things that didn’t happen to you?” and “Does a person really love someone just because he looks like her dead husband and has ONE MEMORY in common?” and “If there were people in that space-pod, how come no one ever tried to bring it down before?”

And having Olga Kurylenko in the movie obviously changes the fundamental message from, “What if you discovered you were working for the enemy?” to “Love is the best.” LOVE can cause you to remember your TRUE SELF. If you lie to someone and deprive her of agency OUT OF LOVE, then it’s okay, because LOVE. Blorrrp. (That is my opinion about this message, which even if it weren’t stupid, is also the message of every other fucking movie these days, and guys, I know that the movie industry is purposefully anodyne and generic, but I am pretty confident that we can handle a different idea every now and then.)

EXCEPT, even if you DID want that to be the message, you’ve already got another woman in the movie. Andrea Riseborough is there, and if you wanted to make a movie in which LOVE caused Tom Cruise to get his memories back, and LOVE made it okay to deprive someone of their agency, then why didn’t you just make Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough husband and wife in the first place?

The most amazing thing about Oblivion is how strong it could have been as a claustrophobic, two-character drama:

1. Tom Cruise is a drone repairman, Andrea Riseborough is his operator, they have two weeks left on their assignment before they go to Titan.

2. Tom Cruise finds the flight recorder from the fallen spacepod and starts listening to it at night.

3. Tom Cruise tries to explain his suspicions to Andrea Riseborough, but she remains unconvinced.

4. Tom Cruise attempts to make contact with the actual humans. Andrea Riseborough betrays him.

5. Tom Cruise survives the betrayal and flies a bomb up into the mothership.

You could use the growing distrust between Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough as a pretty interesting metaphor for marriage – the more Tom Cruise remembers of their past life together, the more passionately he tries to get Andrea Riseborough on his side, but while HE remembers their marriage, SHE is a new and different person, and that is a pretty good parallel for how time can disrupt a relationship. If you were feeling REALLY nasty, you could set it up so that Andrea Riseborough wasn’t mindwiped at all – or even a clone at all. Andrea Riseborough is the original, and a traitor to humanity, and she consented to help the mothership if it mindwiped Tom Cruise (who did NOT want to betray humanity) so they could still be together.

(See, that way the message is actually “It is NOT okay to deprive someone of agency because of LOVE.”)

Learning the truth from the flight recorder also helps to heighten Tom Cruise’s ambivalence. Because it’s just recorded voices, he can’t be SURE that the humans are the aliens and the aliens are the humans – his suspicions can grow, and as they grow Andrea Riseborough can be more insistent that they’re wrong, and that’s a nice, slow tension. They can have their conversations exclusively at night, since the mothership can hear them when it’s above the horizon; they can even start to get suspicious that the house his spying on them even at night – Tom Cruise begins making increasingly paranoid demands on Andrea Riseborough, who doesn’t understand the changes happening to her husband, and is afraid he’s going to jeopardize their survival.

Tom Cruise finally learns the truth about the humans (and this is all predicated on the idea that we live in a world in which marketing boobs hadn’t spoiled the whole fucking movie in the first place – the realization that the humans are the aliens and the aliens are the humans is only interesting if we haven’t spent fifty minutes waiting for post-apocalypse Morgan Freeman to show up, dummies) after a scuffle with the Scavs (these are the aliens who are really the humans), when one of their helmets gets knocked off. He intervenes to prevent a drone from killing the person (see, we’ve already GOT people in this world for Tom Cruise to rescue).

Since the ambivalence about the truth of the mission is built in to the question of the flight recorder, we don’t need the Scavs to convince Tom Cruise to help – we could actually reverse this and have Tom Cruise approach the Scavs and needs to convince THEM to trust HIM. They could feel betrayed when one of the drones shows up anyway, because of Andrea Riseborough. This is pretty standard stuff, I guess – the best way to handle this would be like this:

1. Tom Cruise approaches the humans and tries to get them to come out into the open, still thinking the drones are the allies of humanity.

2. The drones kill the humans, and Tom Cruise understands that humans will never be free as long as the Tet (the humans who are really the aliens) exists.

3. Tom Cruise abandons his attempts to make contact (that is, Tom Cruise sacrifices his connection with humanity so that he can destroy the enemy of humanity — Horatius [a Roman legend that Tom Cruise makes much of in the movie] is interesting not just because he died defending the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods, but precisely because he had to sacrifice his comfort and connection to that history in order to do it]) and flies the bomb into the mothership.

This lets us avoid the, “You said we could trust you but you LIED” trope that you might be tempted to rely on: the emotional beat is not the Scavs’ sense of betrayal, but Tom Cruise’s overwhelming guilt and recognition that no reconciliation is possible.

Conclusion

The problem with this movie (of the manifold problems with this movie) is that it’s baffling: the removal of Olga Kurylenko’s character has such a profound and necessary impact on the plot, making it both stronger and more sensible, that it boggles the mind why she was included in the first place. Either they started out with a pretty good idea, then added an extra character and kept having to have to make junky changes in order to give her something to do, or else they STARTED with an extra character, then proceeded to edit her out, then stopped before they were finished.

The internet tells me that Oblivion was based on a graphic novel by Joseph Kosinksi, but actually maybe it was based on an illustrated novel by Joseph Kosinski, but actually maybe it was based on an eight-page illustrated PITCH by Joseph Kosinski, then turned into an illustrated novel while it was being turned into a movie, and it doesn’t matter because you don’t seem to be able to get the illustrated novel anywhere, anyway. All of which means, I don’t know what the story originally looked like, so I can’t say whether Joseph Kosinski dropped the ball, or someone knocked it out of his hands.

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Comments
  1. Jeff Holland says:

    1) The Tom Cruise Uncanny Valley Effect is hilarious when he’s asked to do mundane things in action movies. In “Mission Impossible 3,” Abrams was basically doing a full length episode of Alias with Tom Cruise as Sidney Bristow, so the first 10 minutes he’s at a “party” interacting with “people” like he is also “people,” and it has the effect of being a party that Tom Cruise has tried to infiltrate.

    Greg Grunberg has some line about what a boring everyday humdrum guy Tom Cruise’s civilian cover is, but he even delivers it in such a way that the audience understands what he really means is, “What the fuck is Tom Cruise doing at this party pretending to be people?”

    2) “since the audience is going to notice when some knucklehead is just hanging around the plot not doing anything; in my opinion, this just means you need to work harder.”

    Ebert always called this the Law of Economy of Characters, but I will always call it the “What The Hell Is Cary Elwes Doing In This Movie? Rule.”

  2. Jefferson Robbins says:

    Is “dramaturgery” strictly speaking a word?

    I guess now it is.

  3. braak says:

    Yes, it is now. I have COINED it.

  4. I’ll use the actors name in place of hte character. Especially for MOrgan Freeman as Morgan Freeman, essentially is playing Morgan Freeman in every movie he’s ever been in- the coolest guy in the room.

    In the scene after taking Cruise captive, Morgan Freeman says that they cracked the gps codes, Cruise announces ” that is how you brought down the odyssey. “.
    they brought down the space pod to get the nasa compact reactor- not at all about bringing humans back to earth for Cruise to mull over. perhaps in the script, morgan freeman didn’t know that humans were in the pod.
    it still doesn’t explain how the pod got away from the tractor beam nor even how they knew it was up there. MOreover, It really doesn’t explain how they brought down the pod or where they got the signal device. perhaps the concept of knowing the gps also includes the knowledge of how to bring it back to earth.

    another funny thing is that Morgan had met olga during the same sequence. They or some human must have spoken to her about something. Perhaps she didn’t divulge her name to other humans but that makes no sense..

    “Hi I am Morgan Freeman playing Morgan Freeman ” and when Olga says ” Julia harper” or whatever, Morgan Freeman acts surprised.

    In the placid cabin respite, Cruise says to Olga “those people need my help-” I took it to mean that he doesn’t consider himself to be really human now with the realization that he is a copy not a clone

  5. Edit:
    Morgan FReeman had already met Olga : this was when the humans took Olga & Tom captive at the pod crash site. She was captured. She & Tom are released during the same scene in which Morgan tells Tom that the humans brought down the pod for the reactor after getting the gps coordinates and further , that they have been trying to get a captured drone to fly a nuclear bomb up inside the Tet to blow it up & end the war.
    Olga is marching along the group. She’s right there.
    She had a chance to tell all the humans her entire story, along with her name etc. She would have been able to figure out that these humans were humans just like her. That they aren’t alien. So why didn’t she say something. ” I am julia harper, I was on the pod as part of the mission to see what the Tet was going to do- Jack was the pilot….. blah blah blah “.

    but apparently she said nothing.

    Then later, she and Tom go back there so that tom can help the humans, MOrgan INTRODUCES HIMSELF to a woman he has already met. This is when he seems surprised.

    Why didn’t she tell him ANYTHING when they first met?

    I am nitpicking but it’s fun

  6. braak says:

    Yeah, and then it’s like, “How did Morgan Freeman know the odyssey had a nuclear power core?” “What do you mean ‘cracked the GPS codes’? GPS codes aren’t a secret, you’re SUPPOSED to know what they say, that’s how you figure out where you are!” Also, “Why would a ship flying around in space use GPS codes?”

    But even then, it’s like, I’m willing to forgive ALL of that. Looper, in a lot of ways, makes similarly no sense, but in a way that I’m happy to ignore because it’s really not interested in the logistics of time travel so much as it’s using time travel as a metaphor for cyclical violence. I’d be willing to let Oblivion slide if it would just admit that it cared less about Space Drone Repair than it did Space Drone Repair as a metaphor for…what, exactly?

    Obviously, the movie SHOULD be about how Tom Cruise’s “American Dream” life is actually a tool used by oppressors to keep the middle class alienated from the working classes, and thus to facilitate their oppression — great, good metaphor — but then there’s all this junk about Olga Kurylenko’s character who’s hanging out for no reason.

    It’s a movie that really has that kind of hodepodge plot that results from a writer knowing three or four things that he really wants to happen, and then needing to do a bunch of backflips to make the rest of the story work out right.

  7. another one: apparently they don’t have any security system protocol in place for opening the doors that prevent them from being attacked by drones.

    ” open the door!”
    ” someone look out the peek hole to see if any drones are out there . we do have Jack in here and those things tend to look for him”
    ” no… we don’t have time for that.. open the door I said.. do it now.
    okay.. but if drones are out there, we could be in a heap of trouble!
    so I say, lets look out the peep hole first.”
    No. just open the door.. I’ll take my chances. after all, what’s the worst that could happen?”

    door open. 3 drones are out there

    ” OH crap…”

  8. yup, each explanation leads to another question that leads to yet another explanation.. it’s like a mobius strip within a riddle wrapped around an enigma surrounded by bacon. ( horrible misquote but you get the gist ..

    yet I saw the movie as a love story… and we all know that love makes absolutely no sense… so it made perfect sense to me.

    but I love talking about this stuff

  9. the script had an original story ( never told as it was unpublished ) then had a rewrite by one guy then another rewrite by another guy. I think they introduced the wife character to introduce yet another ‘choice’ dilemma for Jack. They over-reached as it was unnecessary. That should have been the sequel. This one should have focused on how Victoria didn’t accept the program . or that she betrayed humanity and knew all along. your ideas were pretty good.

    But like I said, I cringed a bit when some troubling things happened that send shards of glass through my brain, but the love story seemed to take precedence over the lack of sense in the other aspects.

    To get the core reactor, they would have to know that something was up there, and that that something had a core reactor. And if they got the coordinates, from whom did they get the coordinates. maybe they broke into Nasa’s space center here on earth, got it running somehow and saw that there was something up there floating around.

    how the Tet didn’t see it or know about this 60 year old orbiting space pod, is something that had yet to be explained.

  10. GPS codes. this is what morgan freeman said , I couldn’t make out the first part of what he said. he said something about ” it took 10… something… to figure out the gps codes. ”

    I don’t know what he said. but he definitely said ”…. the gps codes..”.

    and he had earlier said something about the tet “…using the water for energy.”

    how does he know that the Tet is using the water for energy? it may be an assumption but what does he mean; as in fuel energy atomic or otherwise or actual metabolic energy. ”

    I think that the re-writes and additions made the story too convoluted and the people never bothered to try to make a good backstory.

    similar to Lucas coming up with the force being whatever it was that he said that it was. it barely made any sense, yet people simply accepted it. He NEVER had any plan on going back to do the prequel and thus didn’t even bother trying to explain stuff.

    and yet the writers of oblivion went far too far, put details in that had no explanation and didn’t realize that much hinged on the details.
    as we could only suspend our disbelief on some things, not on others.

  11. cyclical violence: that is a fantastic inference.

    however, I have never been convinced that the authors/directors of these movies had any of this in mind.

    More introspective and imaginative people arrive at this, making the conclusions about the meaning of the movie/scene.

    or imbuing certain characteristics/importance to some scenes to which the director was completely oblivious.

    Looper time travel / cyclical violence and meaningless cyclical violence since the end result was foretold ( in a way ) is a great metaphor.

    The space drone repair could be a metaphor for the meaningless of much of humanity’s daily activities: unnecessary and repetitive, done merely because of a glitch in one person’s psyche that demands obedience from others. not a fully formed thought but this keeps in line with the movie.

  12. braak says:

    No, I am pretty sure that Looper very clearly had that idea in place from the beginning, since it’s a repeated motif throughout all elements of the production. Joseph Gordon Levitt obviously says it (I mean, almost literally) at the end when he says that killing the mother is what leads the kid to leave and become violent. The time-travel is very specifically used to create “loops” of violence. The future gangster are all dressed like the gangster action figures from the kids’ room (who are, in turn, action figures about an Old West gunfighter).

    I think for many movies it’s certainly the case that the theme is imposed on it later, but Looper seems to have its theme very clearly up front, it was written and directed by one guy (Rian Johnson who, incidentally, has repeatedly made movies that were very carefully constructed with a kind of internal consistency).

    I think Oblivion‘s strongest theme is the class one, which is what makes the “love story” part stand out as such a plainly artificial graft.

  13. GPS codes: I really don’t know much about gps codes . I also don’t want to be seen as a sympathizer to the writers of oblivion. Looking at it from their point of view, the signal sent out was a beacon- a homing device. Morgan Freeman says ” we were playing a ground game ( reference back to american football as referenced by Cruise- perhaps Freeman heard Cruise’s tale of the ‘classic football game”) and then Freeman says something about throwing the hail mary. this ‘hail mary’ would have been to send out a beacon to the pod. the question remains , how did they know about the pod . they would have definitely known about the space mission of cruise et al to the Tet 60 years ago- that would have been in the news. then they saw that cruise became ” super evil cruise”

    The GPS was for the coordinates on earth. not for the pod which is what it appears some people may be assuming. They would not have known the gps coordinates for the place where they wanted the pod to come down.

    Now I don’t remember what was so special about that crash site.

    I like how movies allow people the opportunity to think. not everyone takes that opportunity. they dont’ have to.

  14. ah… here I go again.. sorry about this.
    Morgan said something about taking a lot of time to crack the gps codes. so they knew the positions of the various landmarks. then this knowledge came in handy when they discovered the Cruise 49 was ‘different’. not the mindless soulless killing machine of yore. but an inquisitive soul. ‘soul’ being important.

    so they used their knowledge of the gps codes fro the various landmarks to send a beacon for the pod to come back to earth in the zone that cruise 49 patrolled.

    that explains that but it still doesn’t answer the question of how they knew that the pod was up there in the first place.

    perhaps they knew that these space ships were powered by the small core reactors though.

    but how they came to know that the pod was up there is still a riddle.

  15. braak: darn, I was giving the credit to you on that one…lol..

    well, regardless, violence begets violence as does peace unfortunately, since there is always some malignant person out there who sees peace / kindness as a weakness to be exploited.

    in movies such as looper, the kick factor is almost always that the very existence of one person and the actions of that one, always leads to some inevitability that leads to someone else’s or their own demise that had they not existed, would never have happened.

    they are the architect of their own demise..

    so the next movie with that theme could reasonably be called ‘ricochet” meaning that a person’s actions may ricochet and come back to haunt him /her and lead to events that they may later have to fix or at least amend.

    and , it will turn out that nothing they do can completely solve it. it simply changes things .

    the thing that must be changed in the main protagonist. Me if the movie is told in the first person narrative.

    ray bradbury comes to mind and I believe that the author Oh Henry had a similar story.

    back to my thoughts.

  16. braak : thank you for this. it has been very helpful to me.

  17. I love these reviews, and I also didn’t get what Olga Kurylenko was doing in the movie, except as another vanity addition for Tom Cruise – Andrea Risenborough wasn’t enough, no.

    I’d like to add the point which made me call bullshit – I mean the movie was entertaining enough, once you squinted to avoid looking at all the inconsistency directly. But then the epilogue came along, and oh, boy. They should have stopped at the sacrificial death. But no, Tom Cruise had to get the lady in the end.

    So we get this utterly ridiculous premise – three years later, and perfectly coiffed and made up model lady is pretending to do stuff in the soil, while an adorable three year old runs around in the latest in kids’ clothing. WHAT. Where did she get those clothes? How’d she get through 9 months pregnancy and subsequent labour completely on her own? I know there’ll be idiots who say, “women have been giving birth for all of history . . . bla bla bla”. Without modern medicine, yes (and that’s why childbirth was the leading cause of death for women well into the 19th century, if not the early 20th). On their own, no. Childbirth was a community thing, with the other women of the group acting as midwives, if no actual midwives were available. Or doctors, eventually. And still women died afterwards, from infection or bloodloss. So tell me how miss lingerie model not only survived the pregnancy completely alone in a post-apocalyptic world, but gave birth, didn’t die of infection, and apparently designed a line of toddlerwear, then wove cloth, dyed it and . . . oh, fuck this.

    I kind of thought to myself, wow, is this Tom Cruise’s personal fantasy or what. Ready-made family, and you just walk in, without dealing with pregnancy hormones, complaints about breast-feeding, the terrible twos, etc. Nope, he just walks into a picture postcard, with nary a “Hi honey! Missed me?” And instead of throwing things at him, screaming “Where were you when I was pushing another human being out of my vagina!”, she’s all entranced, with this “my prince has come” look on her face.

    I much prefer the HISHE version, where ALL the Jacks turn up. And they brought ALL the Vickas with them.

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