Bird Box and Apathetic Blindness
“Turn on the news, dumb-dumb,” says Jessica (Sarah Paulson) to her sister Malorie (Sandra Bullock), the protagonist of the recent streaming hit, Bird Box (S. Bier, 2018). Completely unaware of the unexplained mass suicides in East Europe, Malorie has not stocked her kitchen with groceries. She does not seem to be interested in what is going on in the world, and the alarming reports of the ongoing catastrophe on the TV is not enough to spur her into action: “Well,” after all, “it’s in Russia.” She just turns the TV off, and continues with painting in her new studio. In her comfortable numbness, Malorie is one of us, that is, the lucky ones who have the luxury of slipping away from the distressing images of modern life. The immigrant children in cages separated from their parents, the civil war in Syria, and the irreversible devastation of the biosphere are held in the entitled ones' peripheral vision. Just like her, we blind ourselves to the rest of the world at the push of a remote control button, and mind our own business. “If you don’t acknowledge a thing, it simply goes away,” Jessica sarcastically puts it during the sonogram. However, Bird Box reminds that what happens on the screen does not always remain there. In an alternative interpretation, the narrative, which is adapted from the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman, subtly warns us that there will be a time when “it” will not simply go away. If viewed as an allegory, the most original aspect of the film is the ironic requital that humanity pays for its hamartia; apathetic blindness to human affairs and the ecosystem develops into collective misery.
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