When the unthinkable became real, that is, when a global pandemic locked us all at home, the world of fantasy genre aimed at the general public went blank. Yes Contagion (2011), Steven Soderbergh’s dystopian classic, stopped being science fiction and became drama, how was the future, and more necessary than ever, speculative fiction going to be drawn? Going, obviously, further. As far as the genre has been moving for years without the audiovisual dare to follow in its footsteps, or only timidly following them. And in every way. Because the incorporation a decade ago of Jeff Lemire, a titan of the new weird [género literario que surgió en los años noventa con características de la ficción especulativa, fantasía y terror], to the DC factory – responsible for Superman and Batman – was already pointing in that direction. That of expanding in other directions – as unpredictable as the world – a mainstream deciduous.
May Robert Downey Jr. and his wife, Susan, now recover as producers Sweet Tooth, one of Lemire’s early series (Essex County, Ontario, age 45) – a guy who grew up on a farm and studied filmmaking, but dropped out because he preferred to work alone – and produce a perfectly correct White series for Netflix – the torment and bleeding of the original have been left out – opens the door to another fictitious future possible also in the audiovisual. The message of Sweet tooth it is clear: the end of the world is over. In other words, the end of the world is already here, but the human being is not going to disappear. It’s just going to transform into something else. And civilization too. An idea that video games have been flirting with for years. Or is it not the future of Sweet tooth the future of the video game saga Horizon?
On Horizon, the protagonist lives in a post-apocalyptic world in which, unlike what happens in audiovisual dystopias about uninhabitable futures, nature once again rules. Cities have become jungles, animals roam everywhere. Exactly that happens in the adaptation that has been made of Sweet tooth, whose original, infinitely more fierce and sordid, dates from 2009. In reality, it is a series of comics that was published between 2009 and 2013. The plot has been softened, it has been diversified, and, in some way, it has been adapted to that idea of the retrofuture already present in the only cultural product that had explored other avenues: videogames. What Horizon, above all, but also as the latest installment of The last of us, for example.
Like in Sweet tooth, there is a father who, at a given moment, leaves a son alone whom he has not yet taught enough in a hostile world that is a consequence of his excesses. But there is still hope. That is, the viewer is not in front of Road, by Cormac McCarthy, a classic in which the role of man changed, guilt and care weighing on him, in an exploration of a new masculinity then not yet understood as such but evident today. In the first episode of Sweet tooth, the protagonists are, above all, family men devoted to care and not to action – Gus’s father and the desperate doctor and husband. and what is wrong with them? Aimee (Dania Ramírez), without going any further, feels more hopefully alive than ever.
Times are changing and the shape of the future too. Said Ted Chiang, the author of the story on which it was based The arrival, from the director and screenwriter Denis Villeneuve, and responsible for one of the key books last year, Exhalation (Sixth Floor), that climate change and the need for the survival of the species had begun to direct speculative fiction towards the collective. And also to unite the human being with nature. The only way to survive is to return to it, Chiang said. There is Interstellar, the desert future envisioned by the Nolan brothers, Christopher and Jonathan, in the absence of interaction. And what better way to return to nature than one that does not limit itself to letting herds of elephants run through large deserted cities and creating trans-species beings? Because that’s Gus, the main deer boy, a hybrid.
Lemire, the cartoonist and screenwriter who in less than a decade has won two Eisner Awards [galardones de la industria del cómic estadounidense], an expert on misfits, found Sweet tooth with a future of humans so rare that they could become brand-new hunting pieces for other humans, and the future, this future in need of other speculative narratives, has turned that rarity into a virtue. Who knows if the hybrids came before the virus or as a result of it. The truth is that they are here, and, in some meta-narrative way, they are telling the mainstream fantastic audiovisual that have come to stay. They are rare, but we need them to make the future, even in the worst case, a livable place. We no longer believe in absolute destruction, because, as Margaret Atwood recently said, the warnings of a terrible future are over, you have to start building from a dead end present.
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