Summary Discussion/Workshop

“In and Out of the Shell” 


As humans, we all have made a mistake:  that is — “human exceptionalism”— a belief that humans are exceptional, special, and better than any creatures in the world. At the point when an individual has that concept in his mind; he forms a boundary between himself and other organisms and thus, stays in his “shell” temporarily, or forever. This shell, though is invisible, blocks the man from receiving the information outside his shell. He thinks himself as superior, above, important that others can’t live without him. But, has he never seen the world outside the shell?  The fine line humans draw, exist not only from other organisms but also within the human society. The film “Venom”, chapters from “Acquiring Genomes”, and chapters from “When Species Meet” help humans to understand and to break through the shell. The central question I am going to focus on is how do “Venom”, “Acquiring Genomes”, and “When Species Meet” comment on the human exceptionalism within themselves and other creatures. 

The film “Venom” is adapted from Marvel Comics, telling the story of Eddie Brock being invaded and controlled by an unidentified alien symbiosis and becoming an alternative superhero. As a journalist, Eddie Brock is involved in the investigation of the life foundation owner Carlton Drake. Through reading his fiancée, Anne Weying’s secret files, Brock finds out that Drake has been using humans as trials and resulted in many deaths. As a result, Brock’s relationship with his fiancée Anne Weying is in jeopardy and he loses his job.  Dora Skirth, one of Drake’s scientists who disagrees with Drake’s way of doing the experiment, approaches toward Brock and asks for help. Skirth helps Drake to get into the experiment facility to search for evidence. Brock then finds out that his friend, Maria, is being used as a test object. As Broke tries to rescue Maria from the lab room, the symbiote that used to be in Maria’s body transferred into Broke’s body. The symbiote, named Venom is actually an alien living body, a conscious parasite that can greatly enhance the power of the host. Meanwhile, another symbiote named Riot bonds with Drake and wishes to bring the rest of the symbiote in other planet to the earth. However, Venom realizes that the human race might get destroyed as Riot achieved his goal. Therefore, Venom and Brock work together to stop Riot and Drake. 

In book “Acquiring Genomes” chapter 1, “Darwinism Not Neo Darwinism” by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, the chapter define the definition of species, the process of speciation (evolution), and the relation of large mammals like humans with their symbiotic bacteria. While modern evolutionists believe that natural selection determines the direction of biological evolution; mutation, selection, and sequestration are the foundations of species formation and biological evolution. The essence of population evolution is the change of gene frequency within the population and cause the formation of biological species. In the late 20th century, Margulis and Sagan began to question modern evolutionists’ idea and proposed a new concept, that is, “symbiosis.” Margulis and Sagan believe that the evolution of organism is not achieved through the “survival of the fittest” nor “natural selection”, but the combination of “harmony and difference”, through complementary symbiosis. Margulis and Sagan define symbiosis as “the living together of organisms that are different from each other” (12). Authors believe that organisms are co-shaping to each other which mean that neither organism exists without each other: humans and symbiote are connected in many ways. The idea of symbiogenesis is also displayed in the movie  Venom” and it further explains the relationship between human and non-human.  

Author: Alexis


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