Movie Review: The Perception of Threat in Arrival

Another movie review. Because I like to link everything and movies can be used as analogies to explain everything, especially in for international relations, like a lecturer taught me to.

Arrival (2016). Is a sci-fi that reimagines how aliens or extraterrestrial beings are perceived by Hollywood movies. Normally sci-fi movies would show aliens or extraterrestrials as a villain. They’ve come to conquer us, and we need to fight to survive. Alien movies, such Aliens (pun intended), Predator, Independence Day, usually using the foreign unknown beings as of the antagonist that needs to be destroyed. Some movies would provide the good aliens, but still, the majority of the villain role would go to the aliens. But in Arrival, the scenario is changed. The aliens, in the movie referred as Heptapodese, did not show any kinds of aggression that would fall into the antagonist role. Even when the major buildup to the conflict resulted in the harm of their own, they still did not show any kind of violence whatsoever. In the movie, the antagonist role falls into the humans, with their sense of insecurity and assumption of everything to be against them, following the usual sci-fi trope used in movies in the same genre.

The movie follows the story of  Louise Banks (Amy Adams) a Linguistics professor who is tasked with leading an investigative team to identify the intention of aliens landing on earth at 12 different points worldwide. Her mission is to learn and understand the language of those Aliens, or Heptapodese, and to determine their relationship, that would decide the future of humanity. In the end, the heptapodese’s only reason to come to Earth was to present a gift, that is their own language (spoilers), which was supposedly able to view time at a non-linear method, in hoping that mankind would use it and provide the help that they would require from the humans in the distant future.

So, what was the point of the movie? Mainly, how the perception of others affects human behaviour, especially when it affects their sense of survival and security. I study international relations, and perception is a key issue often used for analysing how states identify their interest and make a decision. Whether if it’s the individual leadership or the state as a unity. The point is, states are more likely to make aggressive decisions when issues of security and survival are under threat.

But in the movie Arrival, that sense of insecurity was the trigger for the conflict. The humans were always on their feet for any potential threats that the Heptapodese could potentially show. The purpose of the movie along the way was to confirm the intention of the aliens, and whether they presented a threat or not. Granted, that is the logical assumption that should be taken when any type of uncertainty is presented, but the climax of the movie was caused by the rash assumptions of certain human groups without confirmation, and disregarding the consequences of the decisions. That bounded rationale is a show of how threat perception can lead to the assumption of how error-prone humanity is still is.

Mankind is still at a phase that we can confirm nor deny that aliens do exist. And if they really do, the issue of language and perception would definitely be a problem that humanity should consider properly and rationally.

Movie Review: The Environmentalism of Moana

Have you watched Moana? If you haven’t, then you should (spoilers). If you have, can you tell me who was the antagonist of the movie?

By the beginning of the movie, it was made as if the evil of the movie was Te Ka, the flaming-rock-throwing lava spirit, but by the end (spoiler) it was revealed that Te Ka was the spirit caused to awaken as a response from the stealing of the heart of Te Fiti. So… Te Ka was Te Fiti all along? And it’s understandable for Te Ka to arise out of rage for the stolen heart (stealing hearts are usually romantic though).

So who’s the bad guy in Moana? Humans. It was the humans who caused the problem.

From the start, it was the humans demanded Mau’i steal the heart of Te Fiti. Human greed caused the problem all along.

The rest of the movie was the force of nature. But the movie only subtly blamed the real problem makers.

Well it was a movie, right? But the movie Moana brought an important issue to discuss the causes of human greed and ego towards the environment. Sure, in real life there is no looming darkness that spreads from island to island, corrupting everything in its path. But It’s much slower and might be invisible to the naked eye, but the danger is no less real.

Human greed and ego that demands every single thing is endangering the availability of our environment, and everything that comes along with it. Blindly depleting resources, utilizing non-renewable energy, excessive carbon footprint, and greenhouse gasses, and ultimately global warming. That’s the effect of capitalism. That’s human ego.

But again, unlike in Moana, there might not be a chosen one and a demigod that can fix everything for us. That’s why everyone needs to start their own awareness and participate in preventing the disaster that might just come for us. Oh, and fuck capitalism.

Like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would say, you’re welcome!


The Rise of the New Nazis: The Alt-Right

Written by Gabriel Partogi and Lanny Surya Alfiani

If you don’t have any form of social media, read the news, or simply connected to the real world since the 8th of November 2016, you might not have known that the United States of America elected the man known as Donald J. Trump, as their president (through electoral vote, not the popular vote, to be noted). Throughout the 2016 US election process, one faction stood by Donald Trump from the beginning, and it’s a faction that’s increasing their influence in and alarming rate: The Neo-Nazi.

Historically speaking, the Americans would’ve been the last place to look for Nazis, if you were to go back to, idk, like seventy years ago during the World War II. Americans had a pretty negative sentiment towards Nazi Germany at the time. And if you went back in time to say to those Americans back then and told them that Neo-Nazis will emerge in the 21st century, they’d probably think you’re mad.

The Alt-Right, or Alternative Right, is a rising movement in the United States that’s basically a white nationalist movement in disguise. The term was introduced by Richard B. Spencer, and under his role, he created an establishment for the neo-Nazis in the US, or basically today’s Nazis. Just in case you don’t what Nazis are, they’re the movement Adolf Hitler started and put himself on top of, which introduced of racial supremacy, that the Aryans are a superior race of humans, compared to others. Adolf Hitler took the freedom to take the swastika symbol as the logo for the Nazi. Under this movement, Hitler led the Nazi Germany during the 2

Just in case you don’t what Nazis are, they’re the movement Adolf Hitler started and put himself on top of, which introduced of racial supremacy, that the Aryans are a superior race of humans, compared to others. Adolf Hitler took the freedom to take the swastika symbol as the logo for the Nazi. Under this movement, Hitler led the Nazi Germany during the 2nd World War and led to the massive racial extermination of Jews in Europe, which involved extensive forms of torture, slavery, gas chambers, killings merely based on race, which is commonly summarized and known today as the Holocaust. From 1941 to 1945, there were reportedly 6 to 11 million deaths during the Nazi regime, making this the biggest genocide to ever occur in history. When the Nazis surrendered, all of their high-ranking officials and almost all soldiers were prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. So, that’s in case you don’t know why Nazis are bad, and should still be.

The defeat of Germany in the World War II apparently did not stop the spread of their ideology to the world. The organized Neo-Nazi movement started in the 1990s was from the racist groups in Europe, the most noticeable attributes of these groups are glorifying the white people, and the rejection of people in slum areas with refugee and immigrants, or what they call it as aliens. And now, it has reached a noticeable influence in the US.

The Alt-Right can be derived from a right-wing ideology, but more radical. Conservatives are more likely to be identified to the same beliefs, it is they who represent the idea of race supremacy, worship Hitler, and even some are claiming that the holocaust did not happen. The neo-Nazis, are establishing themselves to be a form of political entity, and seeks more power into the government to only accept anyone who’s a white, straight, Christian, and elevates the status of the male as the alpha in society. As a political ideology, the United States of America does guarantee the right to the freedom of speech, which makes the platform for such a group possible.

Under the covers of the Alt-Right, their white power movement supports ideas such as: banning all immigrants and refugees from other countries; deporting if not all, most of the non-white and Caucasian people; banning and rejecting Moslems and Jews; and barring out any differing ideologies from their own. The movement is also responsible for sharing fake news full of hoaxes all over social media, that some people deemed to influence the outcome of the US presidential election.

On the individual level, a lot of the Alt-Right people have been reported to threaten people both online and in real life based on race, religion, and political values. Black people, Moslems, Jews and Hispanics have been in constant threat after the election, with receiving threats like hanging, lynching, and even enslaving. People have also reported swastika signs drawn in public places, Mosques, Black and Hispanic Churches, and even houses, along with the words of “Heil Trump,” among many – identical to the Nazi/Hitler salutes.

If after reading this, you might still be asking, why is it such a threat?  Aren’t the writers exaggerating an existence of a political group?

The Al-Right values basically threaten the wellbeing of anyone who’s not a white, Christian, male. The concept of racial supremacy would give the idea that people’s lives can be worthless just by the skin color, imagine being told you’re a lower species of a human compared to a Caucasian just because you were born in a different race. And overall, it’s just basic human decency to reject such an idea.

This movement was not started by Donald Trump. The movement existed beforehand but was catalyzed by the campaign of Trump in his rallies, and this particular faction felt enabled when he presented the same kinds of ideas. The alt-right movement is basically when you combine racists, bigots, and sexists into one pot, and make it a political entity. And when you have a President that has expressed at least some of the principles that they also have, it’s quite hard to ignore that Trump did take a role in making the movement bigger.

*The writer believes ideas represented by Nazis should never be supported. It is important to study the history and the atrocities done by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Hitler was indeed an influential leader, but his ideas should never come to be realized in this day and age. Nazis and the Holocaust should not be made as a joke, and even doing the Nazi salute is considered as offensive to a lot of people, and should not be normalized, it is still basic human decency, after all.

**Published on IRiS Magazine, Edition VII: Human Security Edition. Link: