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Unwilling Suspension of Disbelief

When we watch a film, there’s a concept called the suspension of disbelief. That is, we pretend that a film and it’s premise are a little more believable than it is. It may not happen that way exactly in real life, but we come to accept it. This concept is especially important for science fiction, but lately, I find that people are more and more unwilling to suspend disbelief.

“How could anyone expect me to believe the world decided the best way to fight sea monsters was to build giant robots?” “Why are all the survivors on a train? Plus, perpetual motion engines are impossible.” “The military would never comission something like that.”

This seems to me to be a problem of placing the most importance on the ‘science’ half of the name and completely ignoring the ‘fiction’ half. Science fiction isn’t about creating a world that is completely scientifically plausible. Though it’s exciting to see a work that has perfect replication of the effects of a black hole, it isn’t really the point.

When a speech like this is the emotional core and part of the climax of the film, then this isn’t a movie about giant robots.

Pacific Rim isn’t about punching interdimensional monsters in the face. It’s about the importance of our ability to relate to and empathize with one another and the greatness we can achieve with the relationships we create. Snowpiercer isn’t about people on a train in an ice age; it’s about the violence class systems create and the artificiality of societal capitalist structures and the “necessities” it creates. Giant robots and perpetual engines are the means by

In the end, science fiction is about using science and technology can create to explore our relationships with these concepts and with one another, to take a look at our society, to see what humanity really is and is becoming.

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