Science Fiction Round 39: Guardians of the Galaxy
Oops! Looks like I posted these out of order. Oh, well…
Guardians of the Galaxy movie was entertaining.
That said… I’m not sure where even to begin with this one. I’m not sure there’s much point in addressing the science, since the science isn’t the point…
And, as ever, spoilers.
We Have A MacGuffin!
Although, given that it gets explained and used later in the story, I guess it’s actually a Plot Device.
The object starts out as a mysterious sphere, which people are initially chasing because other people with money and power and willing to pay lots of money and/or kill people in order to get it. It turns out to contain an infinity stone. It is, of course, a powerful, potentially world-destroying device, which has a certain risk of immolating its users. The bad guys want it for purposes of world-destroying.
Ho-hum. Pretty standard.
What’s much more entertaining is watching the characters fumble around trying to get it, and getting in each other’s way. Especially that scene in the jail where Groot is trying to be helpful…
I’ll admit, having the aliens unable interpret fiction (as in Galaxy Quest) or metaphor (like Drax) makes for an interesting and potentially entertaining plot element. (Another fun variant is translation difficulties because the aliens speak entirely in metaphor, as in a certain episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.)
At some level, this seems entirely silly. Let’s consider the case of Drax, specifically. He doesn’t understand metaphor.
And I don’t understand this difficulty all that well, particularly because it applies to an entire species. It even includes not understanding that gestures can mean something other than the “literal” obvious. At its most basic, language is a kind of metaphor. Those sounds coming out of your mouth aren’t usually exactly the same as would be made by a train or a tree. Ultimately, they’re symbols.
Now, humans have a wide variety of different metaphors, and if you’re not familiar with a language, there are a lot of idioms you might not understand. (In French, “falling on apples” means fainting, for instance.) And, some people with fine language skills have difficulty understanding metaphors, for one reason or another — although most of them get the concept that there is such a thing as a metaphor. It would be extremely strange for an entire species to just… not get metaphors at all, when in humans, it’s something that depends so strongly on language and individual.
On the plus side, it seems that this may be more a simple cultural thing for Drax, rather than something biologically hardwired. He manages to learn a simple gestural metaphor by the end of the film, which I think makes it a bit more hopeful, and not just a gimmick for making fun of the guy.
Baby Dancing Groot
There really isn’t much I can add to that. So, here’s a picture.