I was watching Demolition Man for what is officially the second time, and the idea for this post hit me: Demolition Man has something to teach about the futility of trying to make a world of order.
Think. In the movie, we have a city called San Angeles, a merging of San Francisco and Los Angeles that formed after a massive earthquake in 2010 (or at least in the movie’s version of events), where all crime seems to have been eliminated, so has any kind of fun and excitment. Things don’t happen there anymore. Swearing is illegal. Abortion is illegal. Pregnancy is illegal if you don’t have a licence (you need a licence to be pregnant? What the fuck!). Physical sex is illegal, so instead there’s only the most unerotic thing imaginable. And if you want to make babies, you have to apply for a process in which your seed is purified and planted into a woman. Smoking is illegal. Drinking alcohol is illegal. Meat, spicy food, and chocolate are illegal. Contact sports are illegal. You live how supreme dictator Raymond Cocteau wants you to live. And the police are total pussies who are untrained to deal with any kind of violence whatsoever, thus incapable of dealing with 20th century criminals like Simon Phoenix. The ways of the 20th century are deemed as “primitive”, and described as “gratefully forgotten”. To me, the people of San Angeles have completely rejected not just their freedom, but their humanity in favour of comfort, harmony, and order. Makes me sick.
And then, when Phoenix shows up, the order falls apart. As the movie goes on, we’re shown just how pathetic the attempt to create true order and purity is. Right down to Cocteau’s plans to create a “perfect society” and a beacon of order, which he describes as having “the harmony of an ant colony and the purity of a flawless pearl”. Reminds me of how in Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne, and the Megami Tensei series in general, The Great Will (a.k.a. YHVH) keeps creating, destroying, and rebirthing worlds and universes until he creates a universe that is without chaos or vice and no one can oppose him, and everything is in perfect harmony and accordance with his will.
When the order starts cracking, no one in the “perfect society” can do jackshit about it, except for someone who was a hero in the 20th century for being a no compromise action cop. All Cocteau wants to do is try to preserve harmony and order, and the patheitc way of life he created, meanwhile those who live underground try to rebel but most of the time have to steal food because the alternative to living in a perfect, harmonious, utterly pure dictatorship is to live underground in near-starvation. And in the end, all Cocteau’s society is doing is trying to hide from chaos and cut ourselves off from our humanity.
One of the characters, Lenina Huxley, has a collection of artefacts from the past, and is ridiculed for being interested in what is seen as a barbaric society. You know what? Even if it was barbaric compared to a pussy state, I’m sure I’d prefer a barbarian country over what Cocteau would create: a world that is nigh completely devoid of free will. And that’s what true order is. It is a state without any primal nature, free will, or power or strength. It is complete perfection and harmony, and complete perfection and harmony, as it turns out, is at best, impossible, and at worst, worse than death ever could be.