In this series I will be pondering film plots and the chances of them of happening in the future. With that being said there will be some spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film in question you have been warned!
Soylent Green is one of my favorite dystopian genre films. In the year 2022 New York City has 40 million residents and the world is an over crowded environmental disaster. Food is hard to come by, so the Soylent Corporation provides something affordable called simply Soylent. It’s first two products, Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow, prove to be popular so they go ahead and start making Soylent Green. Soylent Green is advertised as being ‘high energy plankton’, but that’s not really what it is. You see, in the future you can voluntarily commit suicide for the common good since the population is out of control. When you choose to do this you go to a center, end your life peacefully, then your body is taken to a manufacturing plant and turned into Soylent Green, That’s right, Soylent Green is made of human protein!
There’s no questioning that the world is becoming a very overcrowded place and that natural resources are being stretched to the limits. Not only that but climate change is affecting the amount of crops being produced by many countries. Let’s say that the cereal crops of the US and Canada both fail during one season at the same time because of a harsh spring and summer. A lot of that grain is shipped to countries that cannot, for whatever reason, produce enough food to feed their own citizens. What is going to happen then? Wars could possibly start over food, but that doesn’t help actually feed the civilians who are struggling to survive.
There have been famous cases of disaster survivors resorting to cannibalism in order to survive. The most famous case being that of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed into the Andes while on the way to a game in Chile. They quickly ran out of food, so they had to eat the flesh of their friends and family who died in the crash. By doing so they saved their own lives, because they eventually were rescued after a few of them managed to find help. Human protein saved their lives. You may be thinking you would never resort to such a thing, but what if you didn’t know you were eating human protein?
Food manufacturing companies have been known to substitute cheaper meat and fish for a more expensive kind without telling the public. The horse-meat scandal in the UK this last year is a prime example of that. They do this to obviously make their profit margins larger. However, as protein sources become more expensive and scarce could they make a product that is based on human protein? Consumers usually don’t question where their food comes from and I think corporations would count on this to be able to make this sort of thing work. Let’s say that you are beyond poor and living in an overcrowded third world country. A corporation offers you enough money to be able to feed your family for a month if you voluntarily commit suicide and donate your body to them. Would people do this? I believe they would if they were desperate enough. There are organ transplant corporations in places such as India that pay people for their organs, so this whole scenario isn’t that much of a stretch.
So, could the scenario in Soylent Green happen in real life? As resources become more scarce and the population grows I believe that it could. Then again I’m morbid as hell so don’t take my word for it!