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yesh omrim

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An incisor-lickin’ good movie, with a message for our times

17 January 2010

Recently, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a leader in the Jewish Renewal movement, encouraged “fellow-seekers for peace and healing of the earth” to see Avatar, James Cameron’s film about native resistance to a resource-extraction conglomerate, and to connect that film with the upcoming Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat.

In the same vein, I encourage my environmentally conscious readers to go out and see Daybreakers, this year’s big-budget movie about vampires who combust rather than sparkle.

Daybreakers is set in a future where nearly every human being on earth has become a vampire, but now a blood shortage is putting their eternal lives at stake. Just like overfishing has ruined the stock of North Atlantic cod, ten years of growth in the vampire population has reduced the human population to a minute fraction of its former glory, and even with advanced technology sustaining humans in blood-farms, there is not enough left to slake the planet’s thirst. The main character, a hematologist for a sinister vampiric megacorporation, is trying to synthesize artificial blood that can mitigate the need for human stock, but as his experiments result in failure after failure, bloodlust-driven civil unrest becomes more and more of a threat.

One might ask: how on earth did these vampires let the situation get so far out of hand? Couldn’t they have, for example, ensured that a healthy breeding population of humans was kept alive in some kind of nature reserve? But of course, future generations will probably ask similar questions about our own environmental catastrophes, in which our own short-term hunger is blinding us to the long-term needs of our planet. The vampires of Daybreakers, thus, reflect our own selfish desires back to us, and the movie teaches us a valuable ecological lesson: manage your stocks of edible wildlife, or they will manage you.

PS: Speaking of blood-sucking: eleven dollars for a movie ticket?!