Paper #2: Samples in the Jar
“How could you do that, Braniac? What kind of monster would trap an entire civilization inside a sample jar? It’s the most grotesque thing I’ve ever seen…You took away what made them human and there’s never an excuse for that.” (Superman: Red Son)
In both Superman: Red Son and the movie Never Let Me Go (based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro) we see the past reshaped by a ‘future’ utopia. In one, Superman and Lex Luthor decide to protect people from themselves, ultimately placing them in a ‘sample jar’ that gradually dehumanizes them; and in the other, a special group of children is carefully raised (in another ‘jar’) to offer salvation for the rest of the world. Both works raise an important question about modern society: are we already closing the lid on ourselves in a utopia of our own making? And if so, who are the ‘supermen’ who decide what our ideal society should look like, and what people get to make the ultimate sacrifice so that the others can live?
Remember that science fiction is always a metaphor for ideas we can see in our own world: superheroes, clones, aliens, an alternate past—they’re not just predictions, but they help clarify what has already come to pass. So for your second paper, I want you to respond to the conversation: if 21st century America was a science-fiction novel, what are the issues or concerns that make humanity look like specimens in a sample jar? To answer this question, you must have a conversational primarily with Superman: Red Son and/or Never Let Me Go and use them to highlight something potentially dangerous or dehumanizing in our own society. How might Superman’s
or the halls of Halisham remind us of gray areas in our own quest for
prosperity and happiness? Some ideas to consider are health care, education, the environment, politics, entertainment, security,
the media, technology, etc. Try to be specific and choose one aspect to
discuss in your paper (rather than skimming over three or four). Find sources
that can help you discuss this issue and understand its ‘science fiction’
- At least 4 pages, double spaced
- Uses one or both of the books from class in your conversation (more than simply quoting one line of the book or film)
- 2-3 secondary sources: articles, legitimate websites (not dictionary.com or Wikipedia or brainyquotes.com), or books
- Quotes integrated into your paper using MLA (or other) format along with a Works Cited page.
- DUE THURSDAY, MARCH 3rd by 5pm (note: this a class day later than the syllabus stated)