Posthumanism and science fiction : the case of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Annihilation
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My honors thesis explores two films written and directed by Alex Garland, Ex Machina (2014) and Annihilation (2018), through the lens of posthumanist theory. Posthumanism is a broad umbrella term, which can be separated into various categories. Differentiating these schools of thought allows for a clear distinction of the various theoretical viewpoints, which can then be used to analyze major themes in Alex Garland’s films. Although each of Garland’s films evokes a separate set of subject matter, they share commentary on scientific research as well as a plausible vision of humanity’s future. By portraying specific themes associated with the Sci-Fi genre, Garland provides a vision of where humanity stands in the midst of a fast-growing world. His earlier film, Ex Machina, includes technological themes such as cybernetics, artificial intelligence, advanced technology, and the role of social media in our technocentric era. Garland’s most recent work, Annihilation, centers on human biology such as genetic mutation, cloning, and cellar division. By providing social and scientific commentary on humanity’s future, Garland’s films evoke a sense of hyperrealism and create an unsettled and disturbed emotion within audiences. Garland’s hypothetical, yet conceivable, narrative themes enable audiences to learn how humans coexist alongside technology, and what may result from this existence. Furthermore, Garland’s films not only acknowledge the future, but also the past history of science, ecology, and the human species, further exposing how we are bound to an inevitable end, which is accelerated by our own self-destruction. By applying a posthumanistic lens to these two films, my thesis provides a suitable analysis as to how science fiction offers audiences access into the theoretical, scientific, and philosophical mentality of posthumanism.