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The School News Site of Bonner Springs High School

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Jaylon Thompson’s article on Yahoo Sports
Royals on an Impressive Start: Can they keep up?
Madden Rausch, Staff Writer • April 15, 2024

Small sample size so far in the season. And the shock to many, the Royals are off to a flying start. Currently, Kansas City is in second place...

Mr. Mellick - Craftsman On and Off Campus
Mr. Mellick - Craftsman On and Off Campus
Lyra Thompson, Staff Writer • April 15, 2024

Mr. Mellick has been a teacher here at BSHS for almost ten years now, having started in the 2014-2015 school year, and has been very dedicated...

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Inter Miami vs Sporting Kansas City:
Madden Rausch, Staff Writer • April 8, 2024

As the date gets closer, Lionel Messi and Inter Miami will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to play a soccer game against Sporting Kansas City. This...

Dainan Whetstone
BSHS DUI Experience
Katelyn Fogelman, Editor • April 5, 2024

The BSHS Prom is this weekend and with that comes the concerns of students driving unsafely, such as driving under the influence of alcohol....

Soylent Green (1973) – What Does it Say About Us?

(Soylent Green theatrical release poster by John Solie)
(Soylent Green theatrical release poster by John Solie)

(This review is not spoiler-free. There will be graphic content ahead.)

One hallmark of the science fiction genre is its depiction of the dystopian future; a nightmarish, miserable world caused by the escalation of current issues that plague society. The 1973 film Soylent Green, directed by Richard Fleischer and based on the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966) by Harry Harrison, is one such dystopian science fiction tale. Taking you through a cramped, industrial, dying world, this film is a look into what many in the 1970s worried about the future- and now that we are in said future, we can look back and see what we can take from our past worries.

Set in the year 2022- a year that has now come and gone- the film is set in a dystopian New York City struggling with overpopulation combined with a climate change-induced lack of resources. In it, police department detective Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder of an executive at Soylent Corporation, a company that distributes soylent products that take the place of the New York population’s food source. Only the ultra-rich can afford resources like decent housing, good food, and clean water; the rest of the population must rely on distributions of highly processed soylent wafers distributed by said Soylent Corporation, coming in Soylent Red, Soylent Yellow, and the ever-popular Soylent Green.

The 1970s was a period full of wonder about where technology and changing times would take humanity. A few predictions came close; others were not. It is easy to laugh at stories that depict future times and turn out wildly off, and Soylent Green isn’t free from this scorn. Obviously, humanity is not relying on toxic wafers for survival, nor does New York City have a population of 40 million. One scene rather comedically depicts the main female lead Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) playing wildly outdated games from the 1970s on a “futuristically” designed arcade machine.

The purpose of depicting future scenarios in fiction is not necessarily to predict as accurately as possible, however. Rather, it is more to comment on present times and explore where they could take us. Science fiction in particular tends to use the “future” trope to highlight present-day dangers and what they could do to the world if pushed to the extreme, creating the iconic dystopia.

In this, Soylent Green’s objective becomes clear: fundamentally, it depicts a world in which life is treated like a disposable tool of an industrial machine. Nature is killed in favor of polluted cities and giant processing factories. Humans are treated as though they are cattle, packed by the hundreds in shelters and herded in giant crowds. Often, people are treated as literal objects; researchers and detectives are titled “Books”, with homes of the elite containing rightless concubines referred to as “furniture”. In one disturbing scene, the shopping crowd begins to riot as stores run out of Soylent Green, and the police come in with riot control machines that scoop humans up with giant metal jaws and throw them into the machine’s garbage disposal-like storages.

As Thorn investigates the murder of the executive, he uncovers that he was killed as he posed a risk to the company’s big secret, making for the film’s big twist. The most popular food in their universe, Soylent Green, was initially made of plankton. However, as the oceans are dying and plankton are going with it, it now has to be created out of something else. As it turns out, Soylent Green is created out of human corpses.

This crime against humanity hidden from the unknowing public is the culmination of resource starvation caused by a dying planet. The individuality of human life and the value of basic respect become lost as humans are turned into simple resources to keep the machine going at any cost, even if that means consuming each other to do so. The film ends with Thorn yelling in a frenzy “Soylent Green is people!” to the public, becoming the most iconic quote in the story.

Soylent Green is a very dark story with a shocking- yet fitting- twist. It is among the darkest worries that those of the 1970s had of the future with the rise of climate change and pollution fears coming into the public eye. Available on Max, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and more, this film is a fascinating watch for those who can handle stories with bleak worlds and unhappy endings.

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About the Contributor
Charlotte Dykes
Charlotte Dykes, Writer
Charlotte Dykes is a 17-year-old senior at Bonner Springs High School. She is involved in the school's Scholars Bowl and is a member of the local orchestra. She enjoys analyzing media as well as writing her own stories. In her free time, other than writing, she enjoys playing video games, drawing, and hanging out with her friends.

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