Soylent Green is one of those movies which seems to have been plucked from relative obscurity and is becoming more and more of a meme. A cult sci-fi dystopian classic from 1973 based on a book called ”Make Room, Make Room” by sci-fi author Harry Harrison, Soylent Green shows the world in 2022, as they saw it then, as being pretty much a depiction of hell. As we see in the opening montage the environment has collapsed and global warming is rife, the natural world is all but destroyed except for a few outposts for the super-rich oligarchs, but mainly the problem is overpopulation.
1970s Hollywood seems to be dominated by doom and gloom, especially the earlier part of the decade before Star Wars and Jaws arrived to fire up the box office and in general just lighten things up. Soylent Green certainly has more in common with the earlier phase but it has to be said, it isn't as classy or well made as something like the French Connection, and without a slightly past his best Charleton Heston chewing up the '70s decor, in 2022, the movie would've sunk without trace.
But like Joker recently this gloomy era of Hollywood seems to be becoming of interest to people now, and so Soylent Green also seems to be attracting attention. For some reason, in the current year, clown world people are starting to look back at the doom and misery of 70's Hollywood and they're finding something there. So what is Soylent Green saying?
The plot of Soylent Green centers on an oligarch who seems to arrange for his own murder, or at least he doesn't care that much when an assassin arrives to kill him. Charleton Heston plays the cop who has to wander the squalor and slums of New York with a population of 40 million people looking for answers. A nice touch to the outside scenes is that there's a sort of green mist covering the lens of the camera so the city and the world seem even sicker.
Heston, who lives with Edward G Robinson in a tiny flat has to step over dead bodies and people sleeping on the stairs just to get out, you can almost smell the rot and funk of it all.
The world itself seems to have a central government but it's also obviously a Global Oligarchy, and the largest, or one of them, is called ”Soylent Industries”.
Normal foods like strawberries, bread, and butter are luxury items for the sweating masses because there's no longer any arable farmland. Soylent's business model centers on feeding the seething human bio-mass with various products. The most famous is Soylent Green, which is supposed to be condensed blocks of plankton taken from the seas. But it isn't, it's actually processed humans who've been rendered down into biscuit-type products.
The CEO at of Soylent was having second thoughts and so he was bumped off.
The stark reality is though that there simply isn't anything another way to feed the masses, as Heston explains when he unravels the mystery, the planet is dead, and even the plankton have been fished out. Humanity will either starve or it'll have to get used to consuming the last food source that exists in abundance, itself.
The key scene for me though is when Edward G Robinson volunteers for euthanasia, you're allowed 20 minutes of nature, spiritualism, and bliss before death actually arrives.
The music of Grieg and visions of mountains and lakes are a luxury, a slither of idealism and genuine humanity before the lights of the clinic come back on and your corpse is wheeled off to be processed like any other lump of waste that needs recycling.
Religion is touched upon a few times, a priest is shot while offering confession, a woman remarks that God has left the world, and the final confrontation takes place in the ruins of a church.
And this raises an interesting question, while watching Soylent Green I wondered why these characters actually cared that humans were being given a peaceful death and then turned into high fiber biscuits to nourish the masses. It's not like they were munching on meat, it was just wafers. It's disgusting, but why?
In this world, all higher forms and spiritualism has been killed off.
And it's here I think that resonates with people today in the age of consumerism and globalism. Why is it that so many people express disgust at eating bugs when we've already normalized and accepted killing babies in the womb? now of course we soften it up, we talk about planned parenthood and women's rights but is that really any different to calling wafers made out of people ”Budget Nutrition”?
Dystopian movies from the '70s and '80s are interesting because they often got the material problems correct, overpopulation and technology, and even rampant corporatism, but like in Soylent Green the problem is they thought the cultural values and traditions would remain largely intact in the future, even when there was nothing left to support them when religion was gone, and man's connection to the natural world was a distant memory.
The surprise of Soylent Green is not so much that people eat people, but that Soylent Industries even had to keep it a secret.
So was Soylent Green some sort of warning or prophecy? an inside joke by the ”Globalists” who both made the movie and dominate the world today? Well, I'll leave that to my viewers to decide, but it is worth noting that a food company actually called ”Soylent” exists in the real world and already have a whole range of foods. The company named itself after the movie and ‘‘In January 2015, Soylent received $20 million in Series A round funding, led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz”
And when we roll out our new bug-based butter don't worry too much, because on the side of the tub it will say ”Sourced from ethical and non-mammal life”
And you will enjoy the bugs….