Io: Pest Control

So how does speculative entertainment treat the problem of these supposed human pests? Get rid of ’em.
on Jan 23, 2019 · 19 comments

After striking meme gold with the popular-yet-ludicrous scifi/thriller Bird Box, Netflix is back with more speculative shenanigans. While the title of Bird Box refers to a one-second scene in the movie (I haven’t read the book so I can speak to the title’s relevance in that regard), it’s a good bet that the writer chose it because it sounds cool. In the case of the end-of-the-world slow burner Io, the title is a blatant bait-and-switch. The film takes place entirely on Earth with characters hoping to reach a colony orbiting around Jupiter’s second most popular moon (Europa already has its own movie). The location of the colony is inconsequential to the film; it might as well have been Mars, or the moon, or even a low Earth orbit space station. But the writers/producers/directors probably realized that they had a dud on their hands so they decided to catch the eyes of unsuspecting movie watchers like me who are easily roped in with promises of science fiction fun.

Image copyright Netflix

Suffice it to say, I hated this film. I didn’t even watch the last forty minutes; I simply fast-forwarded and watched at intermittent moments. The movie does have some cool concepts and a few good scenes, but overall, it’s a snoozefest. Not to mention how wildly incongruous the technology is. We apparently have the capability to put a sustainable colony in orbit around a moon next to Jupiter, and we learn from radio transmissions between characters that a mission to Alpha Centauri will launch from that colony, but the technology on Earth looks just like what we have today. I would think that some of the leaps and bounds in space travel technology would have rubbed off on everyday life, but that would ruin the dystopian-punk aesthetic. That’s a minor gripe compared to the problems with pacing, acting, chemistry, plot, etc., as well as flagrant trespasses against science.

The gist of the movie is that the Earth has turned hostile against us because we are dumping too many plastic straws in the ocean (I seem to recall another movie where this was Happening…) and transformed the world into an inhospitable wasteland, kind of like how the body develops a fever to battle an illness. I’m not a climate change alarmist but it is obvious that mankind is hurting the environment in numerous ways. As this issue becomes more and more prominent in the news and in our conversations, it will inevitably show up in our entertainment.

So how does speculative entertainment treat the problem of these supposed human pests? Get rid of ’em. Everyone knows Agent Smith’s famous proclamation in The Matrix: “Human beings are a disease. A cancer of this planet. You’re a plague.” M. Night Shyamalan had Mark Wahlberg running around trying to find out what was Happening (see, I did it again) when the wind carried suicide-inducing pathogens. In the movie Avatar, Eywa, the spirit of Pandora, mobilized its animal kingdoms to fight back against the evil Americans – I mean pillaging humans. And now here is Io, carrying on the tired trope of “Mother Earth fights back against the human infection.”

Why all the hate for the human race? From a Christian perspective, the answer is simple: the world hates what God loves. Jesus did not die for animals, or the biosphere, or “Mother Earth.” He died for people. But in a fallen, sinful world, the darkness does not comprehend the Light that shines in its midst. People cheer on animal rescues but march for the “right” to kill unborn babies. They get outraged at the mountains of filth in landfills but think nothing of the filth coming into their homes through the media. God told mankind to subdue and dominate the Earth and everything in it, but in a corrupt world ruled by sin, humanity is reduced and the Earth is elevated. This doesn’t mean that we are wrong to be concerned about animal extinction or environmental pollution; as stewards of this planet, it is our duty to care for it. But to consider the people that Jesus bled and died for to be a “virus” is a lie that Satan is only too glad to propagate. Thinking of people as a disease dehumanizes humanity, and that makes it easier to justify transgressions against God’s most precious creation.

Mark Carver writes dark, edgy books that tackle tough spiritual issues. He is currently working on his ninth novel. Besides writing, Mark is passionate about art, tattoos, bluegrass music, and medieval architecture. After spending more than eight years in China, he now lives with his wife and three children in Atlanta, GA. You can find Mark online at and at Markcarverbooks on Facebook.
  1. notleia says:

    Welp, I guess it’s more exciting than the more likely happening: rampant disease (wait, that’s the thrust behind zombie movies.)

    Honestly, I’m pretty bored of most environmental stuff. It’s not people so much as corporations and hypercapitalism, which leads to my habitual reminder that we need to eat/compost the rich. Tho I’m doing my part to reduce the surplus population by remaining gleefully childless. 😉

    But I’m still a complete sucker for animal rescue shows from Animal Planet, back when I had access to TV channel packages). Tho heck, what kind of people-welfare shows could we have? Cooking shows are an obvious one, but what comes to mind is if HGTV tried stay relevant by making shows for low-income people who are not gonna do a half-million dollar renovation on their kitchen. Like, Jackson Galaxy for crappy roommates, and tips and tricks for communal living without passive aggressive notes and the desire to smother each other. Or decorating your rental on the cheap without annoying your landlord (my mom made fun of my apartment for looking like a dorm ’cause I have no art for the walls).

    • Greed is horrific and disgusting, and is the primary source of environmental degradation to begin with. Corporations and their immoral, short-term-profit-seeking-policies are too connected to environmental harm to disconnect the two. But wealth isn’t the problem. Capitalism isn’t the problem. The human condition is. I agree, it’s beyond irritating to constantly be barraged with “BUY MORE, LOOK KEWL, BE HAPPEE” messages designed to get me to fork over money. People’s desire for control and power and the illusion of success leads them to even try to profiteer off of ministry–while abandoning their family and the responsibilities God’s given them in their personal lives, leading to all sorts of moral failings in pastors. None of that should even be named as a possibility, and yet it’s far too common in Western “Christianity.” T.D. Jakes, and so many other tv preachers who make bank off of peddling comfortable platitudes rather than plainly preaching and living a life that actually looks like Christ–it’s disgusting. The world sells us the truth that we suck. Self-proclaimed Christians try to sell us the lie that we don’t.

      We need God. We need prayer. We need humility. And we need to take responsibility and live our lives according to Christ’s commands.

      Side note: Final Fantasy 7 was my first introduction to this trope that the planet will heal itself and do away with harmful humans. I think that game did it better than most stories do these days. Really, though, I think the truth is that our evil turns back on our own heads. We don’t need the earth to rise up against us. We do a good enough job of rising up against ourselves.

      • notleia says:

        Greed is forever, but we can try to curb the more harmful effects with legislation and regula***n (maybe if I don’t trigger the Repubs with that word we can have a sensible conversation about it). Heck, isn’t that why people try to legislate prostitution, marijuana, or even abortion? (My brief piece on abortion: Personhood of a fetus is irrelevant. This is an issue of consent. I can totes ramble on further, but I’ll try not to get this thread TOO off-topic.)

        • I think it’s sort of a matter of what legislation is being discussed here. Certain rules help while others don’t. And, of course, everyone disagrees on what will actually help. Some legislation is good, but changing the culture is more important.

          In the case of abortion, drugs, etc, outlawing those things doesn’t prevent them from happening. It’s better that people are shown why it’s wrong, and that our culture becomes such that people feel motivated to start projects that help solve some of the causes of dysfunction in our society. And no, we don’t need socialism to do that.

          • notleia says:

            Well, take legislation about alcohol. It’s not illegal anymore, but it’s regul**ed (ie, don’t sell people flavored turpentine) and taxed and there are restrictions about who can consume, buy, and whether or not you can drive after consuming so much. I think that’s a reasonable framework for marijuana, also too. (Granted, current alcohol laws re: age need to be tweaked for greater effectiveness.)

            Things that would help income inequality would be giving money for the use of poor people instead of rich jerks who hoard it in offshore accounts, whether legislating a higher minimum wage or expanding SS or taxing rich jerks more to fund expanded Medicare/aid, or ideally, all of the above.

            • I kind of hope marijuana will go the way of cigarettes in that they were ‘cool’ at first, and many people used them, but after a while they waned in popularity and were considered a bit ‘gross’ and stuff. I would imagine a similar thing could happen with marijuana, especially since when people are high they aren’t quite in their right mind or whatever. I could sort of be ok with marijuana being regulated like alcohol and cigarettes, but I don’t think I’d feel the same way about things like meth.

              Some of the take from the rich doctrine tends to feel like a bit of a cop out for actually getting down to the root causes of issues. People are so frustrated with society’s problems that they seem to just look at rich people as a resource to mine, and they justify it by acting like rich people are inherently evil anyway. But that assumes that money will automatically solve these problems. It helps, but not enough to justify some of the attitudes people have about this topic.

              Taking some of the environmental stuff, smart business savvy people can actually make a lot of money by starting to go green in constructive ways. Oil companies could probably see that the trend is going toward green energy, for instance, and start investing small bits of their business toward green energy ends(they would increase that part of their business as it prospers/demand increases). That would be far better for them in terms of long term survival and profit. They would also increase their chances of obtaining a stronger foothold in an emerging industry.

              If oil companies want to survive, it would be smart for them to start exploring new avenues that would ultimately be better for the environment. But, that’s a mindset/strategy shift, not a matter of trying to suck as much money as possible from them.

              With something like minimum wage, that really depends on a lot. If you wanted to, say, bump it up to like 15 dollars an hour in every single state(or even city), that’s a bad idea because of how much the cost of living varies. As someone that has practically nothing right now, I’d love to get 15 dollars an hour just to work at a cash register or whatever. But, that isn’t practical where I live and would discourage job creation because the cost of living here is pretty low. BUT, in a huge city with annoyingly high costs of living, 15 dollars an hour might actually make sense.

              That said, if I was struggling for money, I would plan things out and then move to a place with a lower cost of living. (Actually, if more poor people did that, that might actually do a lot more to increase the paychecks/perks of min wage workers in large cities. Business owners would have to entice people to stay at that point.)

              • notleia says:

                I’ve lived in both rural areas and now in a pretty big metropolis, and I can tell you from experience that it’s a matter of picking your poison. I think it’s better worth it to build better systems to mitigate the costs of big city living by investing in public transit and affordable living spaces like townhouses and community houses over standalone houses. (Also wages have stagnated for decades, so we’d have to raise it just to play catch-up.)

                But my opinion is thoroughly colored by my resentment of the isolation and lack of choice and total effing isolation of rural living. You NEED a car, and often more than one — which is a big expense even if you own junkers (that constantly need being fixed) — in order to have any quality of life in the country anymore. If you’re disabled or elderly or your car’s broke, you’re SOL.

              • I live in (what I’d consider) to be a midrange town, so maybe that’s a better target for people to aim for. Like, there’s a decent amount of choices, and we have a hospital, grocery stores, etc. in close range. Most of the time people can get across town in like ten minutes. It’s not perfect, but not hellishly expensive either. I’ve lived there my whole life and feel pretty comfortable.

                Finding ways to show the need for something and thus attracting investors can also help in cities, though. If someone with enough money thinks they can viably build and profit off of town houses and community houses, then more of them will probably start investing in that.

        • Yep. You’re right, and I agree. But your point (as I read it) seems a bit nihilistic and like it ignores the Gospel. I think it’s worth pointing out that the point of the Gospel–what makes it good news–is that God came as a person and died and resurrected for us so that we could die to our sins and live in him, with him living through us, by faith in Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The practical outworking of that is this: if we are Christians, our lives will bear fruit and will be characterized by the obliteration of personal sin (by the Holy Spirit obliterating our desire to sin). If we walk in purposeful, willful sin, like greed or pornography or abuse or cruel words, etc., we’re not walking out the Gospel. We’re not real Christians. The cure for greed is Christ. We have it. For all the miles in between, and all the variation in peoples, we need legislation and regulation to mitigate the damage of everyone who refuses to walk in Christ.

          • Since one of my other posts sounded fairly nihilistic, I’ll say that the universe itself could probably be said to run under some form of nihilistic concepts. The only thing that really makes anything NOT nihilistic is God and somewhat our own desires, though our desires don’t mean as much since they can’t change the very fabric of the universe. Obviously that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make things better, though.

    • One HGTV series I liked focused around taking an expensive ‘designer’ room and finding ways to replicate it for far cheaper. I don’t remember what it was called, but it was fun to watch. I would love to see more shows that revolve around doing things on a small budget, though with home improvement shows they are giving some valuable information regardless of whether or not people can make those exact(expensive) renovations. The real value of watching those home improvement shows(aside from entertainment) is not so that we can replicate all the expensive things they do, but to get an idea of what looks good in the first place.

      Thinking like an artist or business person can help with that sort of thing. Ok, the show has given some ideas and innovation and inspiration for what looks good, so how can that be applied with what restrictions the apartment or small budget place? What can I make myself out of scraps instead of buying it? What styles and color schemes do I like? If you could find some scrap wood, for instance, something like this would probably be pretty cheap to make after some youtube research:

      This person does a lot of fun cheap DIY stuff:

      Or maybe you could even find someone willing to trade a crocheted stuffed animal/sweater/afghan for a painting or two. I dunno. Little things like lighting also make a huge difference.

      Have you seen these youtube channels for budget eating stuff?

      • notleia says:

        Yes, like that, except with a taste less twee or whimsical than most Pinteresters. (Achievement unlocked: too hipster for Pinterest) I guess it’s easy for me to be critical of rampant Western materialism when I don’t actually like or want to buy most of it.

        But something I haven’t seen is ideas for wall art that involve fabric instead of framed prints. Like, a modern take on tapestries (which are at least more portable, tho the cost may end up evening out). Whether it’s screenprinting or hand embroidery you do yourself or machine embroidery you pay someone else to do. Well heck, there’s a blog post I should probably do.

        • Lol, yeah. Like, it’s pretty, but I probably wouldn’t accessorize everything in my house that way. Does give me some ideas, though.

          What is your usual aesthetic, then?

          One thing people do with fabric is make pretty bulletin board things. Like, they’ll take a ceiling tile or corkboard or some other sturdy thing that a stick pin will work with. Then, they staple fabric over it and decorate it. Quilting might be another thing for you to start looking into, since the overall concept and even some of the patterns could be useful. I think people actually hang quilts on walls, too sometimes.

          • notleia says:

            My mom is a quilter, so I’m familiar. Y’all, the stuff I would ramble about if this were a crafting site instead of a writing site.

            I’m still figuring out my aesthetic, but I am a little (or a lot) snobbish because of that crafting background. I likes me some good materials and craftsmanship, but I don’t necessarily like paying for em.

            • Notleia, do you watch Mr. Kate on YouTube? They do great renovations for all different kinds of incomes, and DIY a ton of stuff in really creative ways. My wife and I watch their episodes as soon as they upload. In my opinion, it’s a way better watch than almost anything on HGTV.

  2. Interestingly enough, the environmental stuff only matters in terms of us feeling guilty, wanting to survive, and the moral obligation to take care of what God gave us. Technically, the earth and universe itself couldn’t care less. According to evolution, there were tons of mass extinctions, and maybe even times when our planet was completely lifeless. In evolutionary terms, whatever happens happens.

    WE care because we want to survive and are wired to feel guilty. That’s good to an extent, so long as we don’t go overboard (which would include valuing animals over people). It’s just kind of weird that media is constantly projecting that guilt onto everything by acting like the earth would magically care about this. Our activities probably won’t destroy the earth, but they might destroy OUR evironmental niche/survival ability.

  3. My name is Parker J Cole and I approve this post.

  4. Travis Perry says:

    I’ve said it before on Facebook but I will say it again, someone creating a supposed science fiction story who does not realize that Io would be literally the worst place in the entire Solar System to establish a human colony, cannot be trusted to say anything scientifically meaningful with the rest of the story, whether it be about the environment or interstellar travel or what the Earth would be like without humans or anything else.

    (Not only does Io have a surface filled with active and continually erupting volcanoes, it lies in one main belts of charged particles trapped in Jupiter’s magnetosphere. Your lethal dose of radiation in orbit of Io would hit in a couple of minutes–actually probably before you even managed to get in orbit of Io.)

What do you think?