dystopian genre was created by George Orwell and Yevgeny Zamyatin to sharply criticize
the existing social and political orders. However, the bite of a classic like
Vladimir Voinovich’s Moscow 2042 is
largely lost in the current Divergent
Maze Game craze of teen dystopian thriller-romances. Instead, the conflict
largely boils down to a struggle between the young and pretty versus the old
and mean. YouTube Red continues the tradition of mushy ideology, but rather
shrewdly taps into the anxiety surrounding standardized testing in their first
original feature, Michael J. Gallagher’s The
premieres on the subscriber platform this Wednesday.
the behest of the United Nations, every member country agreed to cut their
populations by five percent to prevent over-population and natural resource
depletion. Since regard for the UN is highest in the great state of Texas, Gov.
Dean Redding has been particularly proactive in culling the populace. Under his
watch, the state instituted the Thinning, a standardized test administered
throughout elementary, middle and high schools, in which the lowest scoring
students are euthanized. It might sound rather novel to find any government program
based solely on merit, but of course there will be exceptions.
Michaels is poor, but brilliant so she has nothing to fear from the Thinning,
right? She has long carried a torch for her classmate Blake Redding, the
governor’s son, who is obviously privileged, but probably smart enough to make
it through the Thinning. However, when his black sheep girlfriend falls victim
to their junior year Thinning, Redding decides to deliberately fail in order to
embarrass his father and hopefully force him to institute humane reforms.
Unfortunately, Redding and Michaels finish their exams at precisely the same
time, so the governor’s enforcer simply switches the results. Naturally,
Redding is rather put out by this turn of events and Michaels is even less
amused. Soon they team up to hunt for evidence of corruption, with the secret
assistance of Michaels’ loyal teacher.
is probably no accident that Thinning is
set in Texas or that actor Matthew Glave bears a resemblance to former Governor
Rick Perry, but it is rather silly to suggest the sprawling state of Texas
would be soon concerned with population control. Indeed, Gallagher and
co-screenwriter Steve Greene engage in massive transference imposing the fear
of over-population, an almost entirely leftwing obsession shared by the likes of
Warren Buffet and Ted Turner, on the starboard side of the spectrum (better
exemplified by anti-Malthusian economist Julian Simon) and then demonize them for
employing police state tactics.
the other hand, Thinning features Fox
News commentator and Clueless co-star
Stacey Dash as Michaels’ heroic teacher (a forceful presence), so that is
almost enough to balance it out right there. Presumably, she has sky high
social media metrics, which seems to be the primary casting criteria for
YouTube Red productions. Established TV star Peyton List is also reasonably
charismatic as Michaels, whereas Logan Paul’s Redding largely comes off as a
knucklehead, but that is what the role requires. To give credit where it is
due, Glave makes an entertainingly Machiavellian villain as the
You have seen everything in Thinning previously several times over in innumerable dyspeptic dystopian
melodramas. Yet, the final conclusions rather insidiously leaves viewers primed
for an equally middling sequel. At least it has the virtue of brevity (as well
as Dash). If you enjoy rolling your eyes at clichés than it might be worth
watching, but it hardly justifies the ten buck monthly subscription fee (which
also includes Google Play). Regardless, The
Thinning fights the future this Wednesday (10/12) on YouTube Red.
Labels: Dystopian Cinema, Stacey Dash, YouTube Red