The Thinning (2016, by “trans-media” director Michael Gallagher) is available only on YouTube Red. YouTube Red is YouTube’s paid streaming service for music, and YouTube Originals like The Thinning. My 30-day free trial, was active for the exact length of The Thinning. The Thinning seems to star some YouTube celebrities, which does not redeem it as you think it might. What does redeem it is that The Thinning is basically Breakfast Club meets Hunger Games run though a Disney filter. Truthfully, this does not redeem it either.
It’s a dystopian future – 2039 – and the earth had warmed, oceans have grown and habitable land is shrinking. Couple that with a growing population, and counties of the world have each developed solutions to reduce their head count. Some kill the elderly, others limit the number of babies you can have similar to modern day China’s previous One-Child Policy (now a Two-Child Policy cause we’re all good now). America, of course, has a better solution – a competitive solution. Each year until age 18 students are forced to take an aptitude test on an ipad. Those who do not pass are “thinned.” Let’s not give “free edumarket” Secretary of misEducation Betsy DeVos any more ideas. Seems like a concept she would embrace. This approach is designed keep America at the top of its game. Or, as the Governor of Texas (who lives in Austin for some reason and looks a lot like Rick Perry for obvious reasons) says “Make America The Best Again” during his presidential bid announcement. Ugh.
Ecological destruction + Over population + Nationalism = The Thinning.
Gallagher is tackling a really ripe topic with a very blunt instrument. The movie is forced to deal with the math that we are all faced with. It’s math that carries with it an ethical dilemma. Once we have used up earth resources, what are we willing to do to save our species? It’s Garret Hardin’s “Lifeboat Ethics,” maybe literally. Harden’s 1974 metaphor describes a lifeboat with room for ten more. The lifeboat is in an ocean surrounded by a hundred swimmers. The “ethics” of the situation stem from the dilemma of whether (and under what circumstances) swimmers should be taken aboard the lifeboat.
Today, the math of overpopulation and resources depletion is best described as part of Earth Overshoot Day campaign. Earth Overshoot Day is the is the date on which humanity’s resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources that year.
World Biocapacity / World Ecological Footprint X 365 = Earth Overshoot Day
Think of Earth like a bank account that we draw from where money is trees, water, ore, clean air, and so on. If we keep spending and not replenishing, at some point we move into a deficit. The concept came out of a UK think tank called the New Economics Foundation, that now announces Earth Overshoot Day each year. Here’s the trend since 1987.
1987 December 19
1990 December 7
1995 November 21
2000 November 1
2005 October 20
2007 October 26
2008 September 23
2009 September 25
2010 August 21
2011 August 27
2012 August 22
2013 August 20
2014 August 19
2015 August 13
2016 August 8
By the time The Thinning takes place, Earth Overshoot Day will be in early July.
This is an amazing bio. A star is not born but self-invented. Yes, this Marshmello.
In an ironic final nod to the Disneyfication of the trauma-horror genre, the children are not killed after all, but simply shipped off to work for the tech company that produces the tablets that the tests are taken on. The monster is the corporation of course. It’s basically Foxconn. It’s ironic because the dumb end up working in a sweatshop, a fate worse than death perhaps but also sanitized for American YouTube sensibilities. Clearly, we are ok with it as a concept.
And in this way, we see one imagined path of how ecosystem collapse, inequality, privilege – all of which exists today – can be reflected as really not much more than a problem created by corporations to continue their upward growth trajectory. Its a reach, but the conditions are there.