A Preview: Inception's True Meaning

I went to see Inception last night and I don't think it could be more obvious about what this movie really was: a metaphor for the economic meltdown of 2008.

Think about it. Even the trailer says that. High rises crumbling. Foreign "power firms" wielding destructive power. A never-ending nightmare. Oh, you thought you had a house? WRONG. THAT'S NOT A REALITY. Oh you thought you had a job? WRONG. FAKE. Want someone to wake you up? Bail you out? Or "kick" them into action?

You know what, I'm kidding around here. But, at the same time, isn't this the perfect time to market a movie reflecting the horrors of the past ten or fifteen years? The bubble bursting, the markets nose-diving, the dreams and plans we'd already lived out in our minds about our solid and familiar future: poof.

Americans have this love-affair with End of the World sagas. One of the largest grossing movies of 2009 (15th, albeit) was 2012, the movie concerned with the prophetic deliverance of Doomsday. Or take a look at The Day After Tomorrow, which was the 7th highest grossing film of 2004. Or we could look back at Omega Man, Last Man on Earth, Night/Dawn/Day of the Dead(s(?)). We've got a big soft spot in our heart for watching the destruction of all that we love and know. I posit that Nolan's insular epic, one which is literally taking place in (possibly) one man's mind, is simply the logical completion of a self-contained cycle.

When the bubble burst in 2000, The Matrix was there to blow our minds with denunciation of this crazy online world. We were disillusioned as a country about this stupid internet crap-shoot and here was our Plato, telling us to wake up and smell the roses.

Well here we are at the end of a rough two year economic crisis. A 2,300 page bill has just been passed to deal with many of the problems that allowed us to fall into this situation. One of the biggest parts of the bill is the stipulation that if a company/financial institution is big enough to disrupt the economic stability of our country if it were to fail, it is dismantled. The main plot point to Inception? A man must be made to dismantle his fathers foreign, monopolistic corporation. And not only that, but when they go within this man's dreams, the constant fear is that the illusions will tower too large and be too unstable, thus sucking everyone into them.

I mean, come on. It's clear as day. Christopher Nolan's muses for this project were Kierkegaard and modern day fiduciary trends. This movie, like those that have come before it, is a purge reaction to economic hardship. When times are tough, Americans go to the movies. And when times are really tough, Americans go to movies where they get to see their worlds destroyed, torn to the ground, and then rebuilt.

The most haunting part of Inception, however, and our economic situation at present is contained within the last shot of the film. What's real? Where are we at currently? How did we get here? Will we ever wake up?


Austin said...

A lot of interesting points brought up here. I think you're spot on about our fascination with the end-times. It makes real life look that much more intact.

I think the biggest allegory for the recession can be found in 2003's "2 Fast 2 Furious"...Paul Walker is the US, his Subaru GT is the economy, Tyrese is the subprime mortgage crisis....think about it...

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