Rebirth of Reason

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Harrison Bergeron (1995)

Starring: Sean Astin, Christopher Plummer
Director: Bruce Pittman
Sanctions: 10
Sanctions: 10
Sanctions: 10
Harrison Bergeron
The year is 2053 and everyone in America is equal. not just under the law, but de facto by "handicapping."  Athletes wear sandbags. Golf clubs are hinged  at the head. Everyone wears headbands that interfer with brain activity. C is the morally best grade you can get in school. Harrison Bergeron is an A student, despite his headband. 

Via his history lesson, we learn about the Second American Revolution which was settled when the new constitution declared:   "All men are not created equal. It is the purpose of the Government to make them so."

This movie is based on a Kurt Vonnegut short story.  (Read here.)  The movie carries only the basic premise of the story and should be considered in its own right.  In fact, there is a lot of discussion about the story and what Vonnegut meant or perhaps "meant."  (Pointless academic bullshit here from Darry Hattenhauer, professor of Culture at Arizona State University.) 

On its own terms, this dystopian movie raises an array of troubling questions about our society.  The philosophy and motives of the secret ruling class are to create a stable world by doing away with envy.  (Like "selfishness" this is the popular meaning of "envy" not the precise meaning.  Yet, the point is close enough to the truth.)  Moreover, the secret ruling class knows that this generation will never produce a Beethoven in order that on the other side of the ledger, it can never produce a Hitler.  "I would put the gun to Beethoven's head myself," says President Klaxon, before he returns to his own enjoyment of the Emperor Concerto.

The secret ruling class recruits geniuses via "headhouses" where sultry girls charge the big bucks for intellectual stimulation such as chess and Schopenauer.  They need such people because the average person is incapable of running transportation systems and other infrastructure.

Obviously, this has elements of the theme of Atlas Shrugged, but it is more in accord with Cyril Kornbluth's "Marching Morons."  However, this is a dark movie.  It does not end well. 
Added by Michael E. Marotta
on 5/31/2008, 9:31pm

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