Saturday, September 27, 2014

Final Destination (2000) and Is God A Problem Of Evil?

One year before terrorists struck the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Final Destination hit theaters with transcendental terrorism. The film is about a High School trip to France thwarted by Alex’s (Devon Sawa)promotion that the plane would explode. Startled by his vision he makes a ruckus and is tossed off the plan with several of his cohort. The twist is the rules. The premonition caused a change in transcendental plan. Alex and his friends were designed to die in an exploding plane plummeting to the tarmac. The alternation in this plan creates a ripple in transcendental fatalism which forced death herself to take matters into her own plans. Stalking each survivor and eliminating them by manipulating physics and orchestrating elaborate Mouse Trap like murders. The teenagers become aware of the rules of the game early and seek to survive the diving bureaucracy that seeks to right wrongs in the eternal design by killing what should have died.
As the youth are finding their seat on the plane a nondescript jock makes a foreshadowing comment:

[Alex sees a crying baby upon boarding the plane]
George: That's a good sign. Younger, the better. It'd be a f*cked up God to take down this plane.
[they see a mental patient in the front row]
George: A *really* f*cked up God.

Is not Final Destination a character study on this Evil God? The Judeo-Christian archetype that sits idly by while Holocaust reduce a people to ash, Israeli bombs devastate Gaza, and police tosses flash bangs into cribs? Are not these the historical occurrences that stain the human story from cradle to grave? All the while an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omniambivilant God views tragedy perched from a safe distance. Of what use is a God that demands subservience to ideals, not present in its behavior?

What this dialog highlights are the loyal fear that is the dirty underside to eternal good, love and happiness. At one at the same time, the Christian God is a bystander to creation and the grace in which all good (and evil) is made possible. God in this sense is a euphemism for existential freedom, and a way promotes self-abnegation. In whose interest are these Godly values? When those in power define your freedom transcendentally, policing it with religious vectors, combine both with an ideology of giving credit for all action to God, then a populace is relegated to an ideology of submission disguised as freedom.

I am reminded of conversation with a white Southern Baptist acquaintance several years ago. He was advocating that I should give up my godless ways, repent my sins and convert to Jesus ASAP. He was dreadfully frightened for the eternity of my soul, and that he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did not secure my passage to heaven. My default position when confronted with proselytization is to bring up the problem of evil, specifically the problem of God's Evil. I begin by asking, is this the same God who will pardon the worse of the worse; child molesters, rapists, and genocidal dictators if only they express their belief in the reality of Jesus Christ? Yes, he responded. Of what use is a God like this who will compromise on his own values? Is this not the typical hypocrisy of politicians? I’d rather support a morally consistent God who is uncompromisingly on the side of justice. This forgiveness you refer to is a great eviler then the sins and sinners in which he absolves. I’d prefer hell.

Final Destination is more subtle with its argument of evil. The kids who dogged their fire-y death are at first portrayed as normative examples of indolence. Rambunctious and angst-y teenagers out for fun. As the movie develops the teens discovered that while they absent mindedly cheated themselves out of their preordained death, that the Grim Reaper is the bureaucrat of fatalism on a mission to right the ledger of the dead. Merciless plotting, not his revenge, but to force reality to conform to a design – after the fact. On the one hand, ok I get it, everyone everywhere dies. Death is the end of everyone narrative. But on the other, the way in which we die, the mode of our demise and the time frame in which we bite the dust are open ended in so far as our death conforms to the capacity for a normative human life span. In other words, everyone dies, but how we die is a crap shoot and therefore radically free from contingency.

Final Destination makes the morally reprehensible and socially useless Calvinist claim that like from the big bang from the big squeeze has been cosmically scribed by a deity with too much eternity on their hands. Radically robbed of freedom the Calvinist is only a character in a play, a puppet acting out a script. Who we are, the choices we made, and our very path of self-identity is ours by the grace of deities infinite will. The moral consequences of historical fatalism is that we are irresponsible for our actions and who we become. Christ’s imperative to believe becomes faux, because our belief is a transcendental forgery. Rather than believe, based on our experiences and inclinations, our belief is planted in zygote before the moment of conception.

Of course, Alex and company have no desire to die, so they see to defy the architecture of death. First, they attempt to understand the patterns. Seeking to connect the order of deaths in Alex’s vision to the order in which the teens are murdered by death. Once Alex feels he has it, I figured out he moves on to developing a hypothesis of action. A way to defy death by upsetting the design fatalism. Alex theorizes that if he is able to repeat the original saving gesture, by saving one of his cohort on the precipice of their death that the design will be short circuited. Freeing the teens from the design's cycle of death. Of course, this idea based on nothing more than mental masturbation fails the teens and the film ends with the supposed death of the remaining survivors.

Unlike the sequels (as far as I remember) Final Destination is the only film in the series to materialize death. Formed as a cloudy figure who sets the stage for a trap, letting water leak, or setting up a domino effect. Why is death portrayed, here, as sadistic jokester? Not only orchestrating the demise of the survivors, but reenacting the themes of their intended demise? Of what value is burning to death choking to a specific character? One must conclude that this play on the general fear of death, as if dying is itself a kind of punishment. Have these teens have sinned in such a way where their personalized disembowelment is also an aspect of the design? For the Evil God’s design, dying is not enough, one must as Kierkegaard once said Suffer Unto Death.

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