When I was younger I was always unsatisfied seeing a movie in which there were no women. Of course, one may say that women make the film beautiful by their beauty. But it was not only the lack of beauty as such that was upsetting to me, rather it was the apprehension of the fact that humanity is not fully represented in that particular film. Indeed, because there were no women in the film, it may be said that half of humanity was missing, and arguably the most interesting one-anyway, the one which is more suitable for the aesthetic representation we call film.
But what about a movie in which humanity is entirely absent? Is such a movie possible? Moon is just such a movie, in which humanity is there only as a background and the movie is focused with two creations of humanity, clones and artificial intelligence.
It may be interesting to observe that in a world in which there is no more room for God, humanity is playing God ever more frequently, that is in creating beings into its own likeness. Cloning and artificial intelligence have long since stopped being science fiction. Today we are only a few technical (maybe ethical too) issues away from actually playing God, with no sacred borders being there to stop us anymore.
Moon is an amazing movie by the upcoming director Duncan Jones and starring Sam Rockwell. Kevin Spacey is also there as the voice of a robot designed to assist Sam. Seeing this movie I realized just how difficult it is to play God. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to actually be God. The main problem with playing God is not creating life, but taking responsibility for your creation. As a creator, you are fully responsible for the unfolding drama of your creatures. This is what Moon is about, about the unfolding drama of humanity’s biological creation.
Clones are biological organisms identical to a given human being but at the same time considered to be on a lower ontological level. They are living, but they don’t actually have a life, do they? How else are we to imagine a clone if we have created it for spare parts? The human’s being primary quality is its uniqueness. But in cloning, that is in making a number of identical human beings, humanity is getting closer to the technological, were everything is replaceable, the very denial of uniqueness. But memory is what makes a soul, and self consciousness, and if you implant memory to a clone it will starting having a soul just as much as the one who implanted the memories. After that, treating it like a machine is nothing less than murder.
I think technology has enhanced our potential for tragic stories much beyond that of the ancient Greeks. If only they were here to write some good-old Greek tragedy starting from our modern realities. What else is the mind of a clone who has memories and is self-aware but at the same time knows it (or should I say he or she?) has no right to live, at least not as the creators do, if not the most tragic spectacle imaginable? This is not to say that children dying in our world is not tragic. But at least we know that we have to stop the killing of chidren. But what are we to do with a clone who looks us in the eyes reflecting in itself our own humanity, but a humanity that for it, as a clone, is forbidden?
One of the ironies of the film is that there is help for a clone, but that this help comes not from the creators but from another creation: the machines. Gerty is a robot who exists only to serve Sam, a clone. In order to improve functionality humans have invented artificial intelligence, an improvement that allows a machine to go much beyond any pre-written program and to make its own “choices” that are optimal in a given context. This “freedom” is what allows Gerty to help Sam, a creation of the humans-gods just like himself. A robot helping a clone against the humans who have created them both and thus becoming itself more…human. This is not just science fiction, this is nothing less than the materialization of a set of possibilities that are floating around us as we speak. A new kind of drama is being born in our world these days, and with it a new kind of beauty. This is why, I argue, Moon is a movie that has spark of Homer into it. Let’s just hope that this God role-playing won’t be too much for us. I mean, it sure looks like we still have a lot to learn about being mere humans.