Sunday, June 6, 2010

Splice: Hybrid vigor to the extreme!


I learned some amazing things from the movie Splice that I thought readers of the MT would want to know. Here goes.

1. Scientists have god-like skills, but no common sense.

Movie Lesson: In order to make a Hollywood movie about genetics here is what you need to do: Have your hip, young, attractive, brilliant scientists-slash-lovers know how to do everything and anything that has to do with biology or chemistry in a lab—quantum to organism—including (and this is the whole point of the film) how to create a living breathing VertebrateStew-Human hybrid.

Except,
make it so those brilliant young scientists can't tell whether their monster is dead.

Life Lesson: The universe hates moral and ethical lapses just as much as when you forget the fundamentals.


2. Humans have powerful DNA and it's completely unique.

Movie Lesson: When you’re just splicing together the genomes of a bunch of nonhuman vertebrate species, the result is a blobby appendage-less mass of writhing veiny flesh. Basically what you get is a 30-pound eyeless blobfish impersonating a caterpillar. [The pros can do this better than me: Time.com’s Mary Pols described the blobs as, “what might happen if an elephant foot and a freestanding penis could reproduce.”]

However, when our lab-coated Adam and Eve team adds human DNA to this genomic cocktail, guess what happens? Forbidden Fruit Cocktail: arms, fingers, legs, toes, ears, roughly 1300 ml between those ears, rudimentary language skills, come-hither peepers, perky breasts, forehead cleavage, a pointed tongue, a stinging tail, etc, etc…

Life Lesson: Humans and their powerful DNA are “completely unique.” (To borrow a cringe-worthy phrase, albeit out of context, that was uttered in the movie.)


3. Ontogeny recapitulates the Great Chain of Being.

Movie Lesson: Exploit common misunderstandings about evolution in order to appeal to the general audience which is assumed to hold those misunderstandings . For example, in two separate scenes, talk about your monster “evolving” rapidly through its development from a ginormous air-breathing tadpole to a fierce, and *fierce*, angel.

Life Lesson: Real evolution isn’t exciting enough for the masses, but antiquated and misguided assumptions about evolution are absolutely captivating! Also, 21st century Americans aren’t satisfied unless there is a healthy undercurrent of Old Testament balanced out by a healthy overture of S-E-X.


If you enjoy attending the kind of movie where the outro earns peals of absurd laughter, ironic applause, and outbursts like, “What the *expletive* was that?” then I recommend you see Splice.

7 comments:

Jennifer said...

I like the tail. Where do I go to evolve one?

Ken Weiss said...

Sorry, Jennifer, it's too late. You could go to a seance, and confer with your ancestors, whose responsibility it would have been to evolve you one. But that's a different kind of tale. Sparing the detail, so to speak, but if they had chosen each other for reproduction because they liked each other's tails, then you'd automatically have one yourself.

Now, Holly, may know from the movie if there's a kind of grafting shop, perhaps analogous to tattoo shops, where you could get one added on.

Holly Dunsworth said...

It wasn't that kind of movie. No grafting except for regions of chromosomes, so to speak. There's even a pretty cool animation of it as they do the lab work. Good idea for the next movie though! I hope Adrian Brody stars in that one too because he's nice on the widespread eyes.

amie said...

Wow... can't wait to see this!
I might have to agree with the 'no common sense' characterization, just saying... :-)

Jason said...

So what does this say about the evolution of tails, Holly? Have you counted and measured the caudal verts yet? And what about stingers? We haven't considered that yet at all! Total oversight!

Holly Dunsworth said...

Oh don't you worry...It's been incorporated into our proposal. (BTW, I've been thinking a lot about bears and dogs too.)

Anne Buchanan said...

Ha, Amie! The voice of experience, eh? ;-)