Why ‘Up in the Air’ should be grounded

New critique or old myth?

You could be forgiven for thinking that the recently released Up in the Air heralds a new wave of American films that reflect the real social realities of America exposed by the Global Financial Crisis.

‘ target=_blank>Rolling Stone claims that ‘Up in the Air is a defining movie for these perilous times’ and gives a ‘bravo’ to its exposé corporate cynicism.  The ABC At the Movies gives the film top rating – ‘It is part of the reality of contemporary economic life in America, as opposed to this totally superficial life that he’s living.’

But do we see any change in the key values that lead to the piracy on Wall Street. Take some key features of the film:

  • The young woman who challenges the elder male is shown to be an emotional child needing his assistance
  • The world is nothing but the United States of America and the key characters (apart from those being sacked) are all white Anglos
  • There is not one reference to the carbon emissions generated by jet travel
  • The human ‘shark’ who is employed to do the dirty work by faceless companies is revealed to be warm and responsible person compared to the alternative of online retrenchments
  • The humble mid-Western couple ‘grounded’ by poverty are gifted a round the world flight by the generous corporate brother (the meek will orbit the earth)
  • It celebrates the verticalist fantasy that the world above is exempt from the realities of what lies below

Up in the Air is an attempt to maintain ‘business as usual’ in a culture that is destroying itself and the world through an unbridled capitalism. Just when reality seemed to expose the irresponsibility at the heart of this system, Hollywood coopts the anti-corporate narrative in order to reinforce the very world that created the problem.

Don’t board this flight. I have a premonition that this plane will not arrive at its advertised destination.

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