Grant Morrison & Brian Taylor Challenge Pandemic Pessimism With Brave New World
Grant Morrison of X-Men, Batman, and Happy! teams up again with Brian Taylor of Crank! to take us to the deceptively perfect dystopia of Brave New World with Alden Ehrenreich of Solo and the legendary Demi Moore
Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, AfterBuzz TV is the artist-friendly entertainment news platform that celebrates, discusses, interviews, promotes and reports on the widest range of stars, creators and content through video, audio and article publications.
The trailer is tantalizing, especially in these austere days and nights of social isolation.
Images of New London, a futuristic Utopia, in some unspecified future where presumably our current cultural and ecological crises have been resolved. The voice-over, in soothing, slightly medicated tones, is apparently addressing a citizen of this luxurious future of universal affluence, pharmaceutically facilitated happiness, and socially sanctioned decadence.
“You are an essential part of a perfect social body. Everybody in their place. Everybody happy now.”
The voice is confident, so sure that this future has solved all our problems. There’s a blur of attractive people in various states of undress, melting into an ecstatic communal organism on a dance floor that you might find in any club of the here and now (before the pandemic), in cities where people can afford to live in the future.
A young woman reassures us through a mask of chilled euphoria that there’s no such thing as loneliness here.
“Everyone belongs to everyone else.”
Then a glimpse of the Savage Lands, a desolate theme park territory where scavenging unmedicated natural folk live like animals in the ruins and wreckage of the world that was. We spot our hero, played by Alden Ehrenreich (of Solo and Hail Caesar!), a scavenger who has the privilege of entering New London and walking amongst the beautiful people. His mother (played by Demi Moore) will miss him, but she wants him to have opportunities. So does New London, apparently. What the composite cultural organism lacks is the information that can be milked from an outsider’s eye.
Some figure of graceful authority says:
“A virus enters a cell. That’s how it begins. We’re at the beginning of something. Something…necessary.”
As if our hero is a vaccine of some kind, representing something the city will get sick with until it builds up an immunity.
The famous Aldous Huxley novel on which the show is based was a somewhat clinical exploration of what he saw as a likely future. If George Orwell’s 1984 represented the tyrannical totalitarian nightmare of a fascist superstate, Brave New World represents the soft fascist superstate, where an overmedicated landscape of constant entertainment and stimulation renders tyranny unnecessary. Having cracked the code of biochemical happiness (with a drug famously called Soma, after the nectar that nourishes the Hindu pantheon of divinities), every citizen performs their ordained social function in a constant state of pleasure and efficiency. Genetic engineering, immersive simulations, and omnipresent social programming conspire to create the great society at last…but at what cost?
Brave New World is one of those seminal science fiction novels that has been extrapolated, interrogated, and stripped for parts by so many other works since its publication that the premise might seem like something we’ve seen before, obviously with a splash of premium TV glamour to make the tropes seem glossy.
Credit: UTA/Universal Cable Productions
But we at Afterbuzz TV have reason to believe that this will be unlike any candyland dystopia we’ve seen before. The creators and head writers of the show are Brian Taylor (of the legendary chaotic action film Crank!) and Grant Morrison (comic book scripting mastermind behind The Filth, The Invisibles, All-Star Superman, and the prose memoir/manifesto SuperGods). Their previous collaboration, Happy!, is mind-blowing in its own way, and exciting for Morrison fans because it’s the first live action adaptation of his work, although its tone is uncharacteristically hardboiled and nihilistic, for all of its anarchic cartoon energy.
One of Morrison’s greatest skills as a writer is coercing us through the surreal intensity of his storytelling into identifying with impossible beings. He tells X-Men stories that make YOU the mutant. He tells the finest Superman stories ever written, wherein the cosmic kindness and gravitas of a beefy alien sun god can make us cry like babies.
Morrison is a master of embedding transformative viral concepts in corporate poppy protein coatings, so we’re too swept up in the joyful proliferation of his mad ideas to notice (at first) how deeply he is changing the way we see things. His gazes into the abyss of mankind at its worst are unflinching, but few (if any) writers in any medium have been so successful in filling a jaded modern audience with hope in a meaningful future and faith in the boundless potential of the human imagination, especially when faced with oppression or oblivion.
Credit: Frank Quitely
This process occurs very intimately in his comics and graphic novels. His symbiosis with the artist and the simple sacred trinity of ink/paper/eye speaks directly to the impressionable inner child of the reader. The process of Morrison using the thesis, antithesis, and transynthesis of the Brave New World mythos to transmit evolutionary survival strategies to a wider and wider audience is something we are not only looking forward to, but something we are already grateful for. There is no voice like Morrison’s in our current culture (pop or otherwise). At this apparently apocalyptic trans-historical moment in the evolution of our species, his voice might be something we need.
There won’t be any capes in Brave New World, but there might be a crusade in the works, as a savage realness storms the citadels of a decadent but superficially efficient utopia that has somehow gone horribly wrong.
If you love Grant Morrison and the trailer for NBC/Peacock’s Brave New World, share this article with a friend. Tune into Afterbuzz TV daily for all the latest info on the world of pop culture and entertainment.
Brave New World’s premiere date has not been set, but NBC/Peacock launches on July 15th.
Jason M. Lucia is a media critic, columnist, and professional ghostwriter whose work has been published under several pseudonyms. He was raised in Medford, MA. He went to school in NY. He lives to rhapsodize the stories he loves on the page and in the flesh.
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