• Experiments at the margins: Ethics and transgression in cinema science

      Pheasant-Kelly, F. (SAGE Publications, 2015-11-04)
      Science is a discipline defined by empiricism and reliable methodologies that result in predictable outcomes. Yet, cutting-edge experiments inevitably involve an element of the unknown, an aspect which science-fiction exploits for dramatic effect. Furthermore, fictional science is freed from the ethical constraints that regulate real-world experimentation and therefore often trangressive. Even as films capitalise on unethical practices and cutting edge scenarios for dramatic and commercial reasons, the origin of the filmmaker and/or place of production may affect a film’s content. A film is also obviously subject to legal constraints, according to the country of origin, and classification codes in its place of exhibition. Thus, while the very nature of science fiction may cause it to appear morally unbridled, there are nonetheless multiple inhibitions entrenched in such depictions. By drawing on relevant cinematic examples, including Prometheus, The Hunger Games and District 9, and scientific scenarios on which these films are based, this essay explores how the unpredictable nature of advances in science, in combination with a lack of ethics, foregrounds the dangerous dimensions of science-fiction.