New Criticals

Gender binaries and cliches aside, what is perhaps most surprisingly disappointing about Gravity is the disservice it does to the genre of science fiction. The impulse to compare the epic-ness of this movie to visually stunning films set in space, such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, should be tempered beyond their shared technical prowess. The sixties' era depiction of women in 2001 may be just as small-minded, but at least the film imagines and proposes exciting new technology for future minds (you can see a prototype design for the i-pad in 1968!) while delving into the philosophical and ethical implications of the growing inter-dependency of humans and machines. It is the combination of innovative dialogue, concepts, and groundbreaking cinematography in Kubrick’s film that has made it a bar of achievement. By such standards, Gravity should not be considered an “instant classic;” it is not even a sci-fi film (if we would like to continue to characterize sci-fi by its attempt to grapple with philosophical questions and mobilize new concepts of social exchange between unlikely interlocutors). Gravity is a Hollywood adventure/suspense flick trussed up with the appeal that scenic views from outer space, special effects, and mainstream white femininity and masculinity offers to mass audiences.

So, yes, the meaning of the title “gravity” alludes to a grave and gloomy context. But for those of us willing to look beyond the beautiful shots of stars and tantalizing blue planet earth below, what is weighty about the film is much closer to home and just as scary.