Consuming Your Life Away

Jin Roh, the animated Japaneese film.  Foto:
Jin Roh, the animated Japaneese film. Foto:

HAVANA TIMES – Watching the joy with which people embrace the unfettered opportunism known as “planned obsolescence”, I ask myself how it’s possible that civically minded citizens educated in the democratic systems haven’t yet formed spontaneous mass movements to force companies to fabricate durable parts.

How can entire populations, who suffer no repression for their way of thinking, accept that technological progress itself is enslaving them? What keeps people from demanding respect for their time and their lives, and insisting that they deserve something more than a vicious circle of consumption?

Comparing the experience of Cuba, a small country, deteriorated to the core where the inhabitants have opted for exile, hypocrisy or passivity as their means of survival, I can only conclude that humanity leans much more in the direction of apparent security than towards liberty. This “security” is an illusion that takes on many faces, and suctions the will to fight from entire peoples.

Here, since access to information is controlled, we tend to think that our submissiveness is due to ignorance. However, in countries of the first world, with immediate resources at hand to investigate and question, the majority of the people also prefer to ignore the fact that they are condemned to work much more, thanks to the foreseen expiration date of their equipment, their payments for medical attention that might actually prolong their illnesses (or create them) at the hands of pharmaceutical industries who view the population not as precious and ephemeral individual lives but as potential consumers whose dependence must be guaranteed, and finally to feed the great monopolies that are destroying the planet.

A First-Worlder can find out via the internet, for example, that AIDS was never a fabled illness that emerged to punish human excesses, almost like a materialization of the Biblical “Apocalypse”. Rather, immune deficiency is a very ancient health problem with diverse causes. Nevertheless, the economic powers that sustain a country (or an alliance between countries) can conspire together within companies capable of exploiting a virus to sell a medication that may in turn generate other illnesses, forming an eternal and macabre chain of events.

Notwithstanding all that, this First Worlder can choose not to believe it, because (exactly the way it happens in Cuba) it’s just too awful to accept that the system that should be protecting you is feeding on the candor of its citizens.

I believe that one of the harshest movies on this topic is the Japanese animation for adults “Jin Roh” (“wolf brigade”) that employs a horrendous version of the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” to symbolize the workings of the human mind and by extension that of society.

Little Red Riding Hood arrives at her mother’s house, and upon finding her body torn to pieces by the wolf who is lying down dressed in her clothes, she feels hungry and begins to eat the dead body. A bird sitting in the window warns her:

“You’re eating your mother’s body.”

Frightened, she asks the disguised wolf who assures her that it’s a lie. Feeling thirsty, she begins to drink the blood when a cat warns her:

“You’re drinking the blood of your mother”; but once again she asks the wolf and he denies it. Later she sits on the edge of the bed and the classic dialogue ensues:

“But girl, what big eyes you have…”

In the vision of the film, power is the machine that seduces you, takes you prisoner and later devours you. “Jin Roh” takes place in a shadowy nightmare world where there’s no room left for trust or love. Happiness, as the human soul conceives and intuitively needs it, doesn’t exist. People are attracted and swept along by the magnet that is the center of economic and political power, in the same way that the multitudes in the film “The Time Machine” heed the sound of the siren and go to their own sacrifice.

Nonetheless, one overlooked detail in “Jin Roh” is that of the animals who warn Little Red Riding Hood about the real situation. This is the key to the freedom that is not even mentioned as a possibility.

Human beings always have the option of becoming conscious of what they accept and what they defend. They have the option of refusing to devour the body of their mother – that body which has created our own – and at the same time the ecological and social tissue within which all of us, without exception, are inserted.

In the case of Cuba whose material needs and deficient liberties are sustained by our willful ignorance (false comfort that in the end has cost us greatly), as well as in that first world prison of consumption and comfort where Life is the credit card that you pay with, the choice is always at our disposition and depends only on ourselves. We can’t blame the world, our fate or the government if we elect to do nothing.

Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.