Live Together

There are lots of reasons why humans find it difficult to live in peace with each other. I don’t pretend to understand them. Artists are sometimes better at capturing the differences we have; not so much about how to overcome them.

There’s this really brief scene in the movie Men in Black (MIB) 3 that I notice every time I watch it (which is every chance I get). It’s in the MIB headquarters where young Agent K is questioning Agent J, who has traveled back to the year 1969 in order to prevent the killing of Agent K by the Boglodite, Boris the Animal, who has also traveled back to 1969 to kill Agent K in order to prevent having his arm shot off by Agent K, being arrested and sent to the LunarMax prison on the dark side of the moon.

Agent J uses a time travel device to “time jump” from the top of the Chrysler Building in New York City with the help of Jeffrey Price, the son of the man (Obadiah Price) who invented the time device. Agent J time jumps, reluctantly, after Jeffrey warns him not to lose the time device because if he does, he’d be “…stuck in 1969! It wasn’t the best time for your people. I’m just saying. It’s a lot cooler now.” This is, of course, a reference to racism in the 1960s.

Anyway, while Agent is chasing Boris the Animal, who has just killed the alien Roman the Fabulist, young Agent K captures Agent J and hauls him back to MIB Headquarters for questioning. The young Agent O interrupts to warn young Agent K that Agent X, the boss, is really upset about the Coney Island incident in which Boris kills Roman.

Now all that is to highlight the short exchange about the Coney Island incident that happens next between Agent X and young Agent K. Agent X stops by his desk and in front of Agent O and Agent J, asks “Any casualties?” Agent K says “Yes, Roman the Fabulist.” Agent X looks scornful and snarls, “Any human casualties?”  Both Agent K and Agent O wince and look down at the floor as Agent K says, “No sir.” It’s an uncomfortable moment because you realize that Agent X doesn’t seem to value any life unless it’s human. I could find lots of quotes from the movie on the web except for these.

Later in the film, when young Agent K decides not to neurolyze Agent J as he begins to trust him, he says “I knew Roman. His wife cooked me dinner once, and while it was not pleasant, he was my friend.”

It’s subtle but I think the implication is that alien life is just as precious as human life. And by extension it means that all life is precious and it’s too bad we can’t somehow learn to live together, regardless of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and other differences. MIB 3 is by no means a social message type of film but there are references to at least race relations in the film, even if they’re only framing gags, like the scene with the two cops stopping Agent J because they think he stole the nice car he’s driving—which he did but “…not because I’m black.”

This post used a big buildup for making a point which might seem to many people, as Jeffrey Price said, “…like little blip on the historical radar.”

But, in the broader context of us all learning how to respect and live with each other, that’s a pretty big blip.

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