Question: Does anyone remember the movie "Logan's Run" or even the old TV show "Logan's Run"?
The plot had to do with limiting people's lifespans to prevent overpopulation. Did it influence you regarding how many children to have? Has any other movie or TV show influenced your views on overpopulation?
Human overpopulation is by far the most serious problem facing the world today. In a sense it's the only problem facing the world, since all other problems stem from it. In particular, environmental devastation, pollution and greenhouse gases, energy shortages and the imminent end of oil, and conflicts over territory and religion all come from having too many people on the planet. And the really sad part is that almost all of these people exist for no particular purpose -- they just live from day to day without caring about how to make the world a better place in the future.
In 1968, a Stanford professor named Paul Ehrlich published a book called "The Population Bomb." The book was hugely successful and influential; in the 1970's, it seemed to be on the bookshelf of every middle-class progressive in the U.S.. Ehrlich promulgated the idea of Malthusian catastrophe: that the population of the Earth would keep growing, without logic or reason, as long as there was enough food and then would grow even a little bit further. Not only would this cause the problems outlined above, under such a scenario any disruption to the food supply would cause mass starvation.
In the 1970's, both due to the influence of "The Population Bomb" and the burgeoning environmental movement, several movies were made concerning the issue of overpopulation. The most powerful and significant of these was "Soylent Green" (1973), which was based on a 1966 science fiction book called "Make Room! Make Room!" A 1969 episode of "Star Trek" called "The Mark of Gideon" about a vastly overpopulated world could also be included here.
Several other movies from the 1970's covered the issue of how overpopulation might be dealt with. The usual mechanism was through an all-controlling central government or council of elders or similar that controls reproduction. "Logan's Run" from 1976 (based on a 1967 book and inspiration for a later TV series) could be placed in this category, along with Gene Roddenberry's "Genesis II" from 1973 and "Zardoz" from 1974. Such themes were not unique to the 1970's, however, just more prevalent. Huxley's "Brave New World" from 1931 and "Waterworld" from 1995 both included this subject matter.
While "Logan's Run" definitely concerns the issue of keeping population in check, the movie is actually a metaphor for the "youth culture" of Hollywood. In the movie, people are killed when they reach 30 years old. This helps reduce population and creates a society where everyone is young, energetic, and beautiful and no resources are consumed in helping the elderly. The metaphor is that, in Hollywood an actress's career is pretty much over at age 30 and an actor's at age 40 with few exceptions. The reason is that the public wants to see young, beautiful people in movies and for every aging performer there's always hundreds more like him that are just entering the prime of life and physical beauty. So in Hollywood the old are always being "killed off" symbolically to be replaced by the young.
Another major component of "Logan's Run" is that of freedom, in particular freedom from central authority. Intense hatred of centralized government has been a primary feature of Anglo-American society since ancient times: the fight against the Roman Empire, the small, local kingships of Germano-Scandinavian culture (as epitomized in "Beowulf"), the Magna Carta, and the American Revolution with its anti-federalist constitution all emphasize individualism and freedom from central control.
The main character of "Logan's Run" literally runs from the central authority that seeks to terminate him. The same theme exists in Lucas's "THX 1138" (1971) and more tangentially in "Vanishing Point" (1971), to name just a few such movies. The fear and hatred of central authority also reflects the on-going cold war of the time period between free society in the West and communist society in the East. Such concerns have appeared many times in Western art since the communist revolution in Russia in 1917, most notably in Orwell's "1984" from 1948.
All in all, I'd conclude that "Logan's Run" is first a metaphor about ageism in Hollywood and society in general, second about fear of centralized governments and the loss of personal freedom, and third about overpopulation and the need for rational population policies.
Concerning the issue of forward-looking people not having children: sadly, this is paradoxical. If the best-and-brightest and those most concerned about the future of the world have the least number of children, then the world will become overrun by the unintelligent and those who have not been trained by their parents to love Nature and to worry about the future. This will just make the problem infinitely worse. The paradox is that those who are most concerned about overpopulation need to have the most children in order to fill the world with concerned and intelligent citizens. Things are going to have to get worse before they can get better.
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