The Invasion

The retread of The Body Snatchers out last year with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig was not a great movie, but an interesting concept. A prescription happy psychiatrist is dosing her patients and her own son with muscle relaxers, anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications. After a crash landing by a space shuttle, which carries an alien virus effecting the brain, we begin to see people walking around like emotionless automatons with their memories preserved. As the infection perpetuates itself across the globe, wars end, and people live in relative peace.

The movie itself is a typical thriller with relatively predictable chase scenes and startle moments. Like I Am Legend, it's basically a zombie movie with some different physical/psychological features of the infected. These zombies don't have much goo/blood on them (just a little that disappears after a while), and the only thing that sets them apart from regular people is that they are as composed as hindu cows - even while watching people throw themselves off buildings.

I have to say, the comparison of zombies to people on psychotropic pharmaceuticals is extreme, but seems pretty apt. It was creepy to see an infected kid staring down at his Halloween candy completely uninterested - seems reminiscent of what an over-medicated child on ritalin looks like. It's a creepy reminder that a lot of anti-depressants like paxil cause a major loss in libido, so much so that they actually prescribe it to sex offenders. It's like Welcome to the Monkey House predicted all of this...

Sometimes it feels like the goal of humanity (or at least the drug industry) is to wipe out emotion, or to have emotions cordoned off and unavailable as if they're a vestigial feature of humanity. As the number of people on prescription psychotropic drugs continues to rise, there is something inherently relevant and haunting about the concept of The Invasion. As technology increases and attention spans decrease, and as the varying streams of emotional information enter our consciousness on a second-by-second basis, our collective ability to frame shift continues to improve. While that can be seen as a good thing, it also makes me wonder if we're not on a trend towards a society of sociopaths...or maybe at best, vulcans.

An understanding of what causes specific emotions will empower an individual to cope with them, as opposed to drugs like SSRI's which have next to no underlying hypothesis as to how they work. The old body snatchers concept is an interesting reminder that we're still in the dark ages when it comes to our understanding of emotion.

By the way, here's a trailer where you basically get to see the whole movie:

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