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Review of Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

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On the recommendation of zensidhe , I watched Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs (available streaming on Netflix). It's a poly story. Seriously. No, I mean it, it is!

I enjoy Futurama, but I wouldn't call myself a "fan". I find it mildly amusing and don't object to it being on, but I like Simpsons and Southpark better. Futurama goes higher on the preferred watch list than most other adult-oriented animations though. So I found this movie to be about on par with my overall impression of Futurama - mildly amusing. But, personal preferences aside, it did, indeed, have a strong poly content.

Spoiler alert!

So Fry (basically the main character) falls in love with this girl, Colleen, and on the day he moves in with her, he discovers that she's living with 4 other guys. What follows is an amusing hyperbolic dinner conversation (amusing for it's not so-hyperbolic content) that spans enthusiastic embrace of polyamory to in-fighting & ad hominem attacks. After Colleen admonishes everyone for misbehaving and shames them into just being happy, Fry starts to try and accept his new poly family, but she jumps up and runs out the door to go on yet another date, leaving her 5 men at home without her.

Fry decides he can't handle a group relationship after all and breaks up with her. Then goes back to his crewmates to sulk, where he once again decides he can't live without her.

So, while Fry is bouncing back and forth between desire for Colleen and feelings of rejection and abandonment because of her interest in other men, the universe is threatened by a giant tentacle monster from a rift in the universe. The tentacle monster finds Fry and attaches a tentacle to the top of his spinal column, whereby Fry becomes the tentacles' spokesman and champion. He founds a new religion preaching the gospel of the tentacles, which is to love the tentacles and the tentacles will love you. That seems to be the entire message.

Eventually, it is discovered that the tentacles are not just hooking into the brainstem and causing feelings of love, but that the tentacles are actually "genticals", er, having sex with the humans and other aliens through the tentacle and the spinal column. So the people all get grossed out, and now the tentacle monster comes forward to speak with his own voice.

Yivo, the tentacle monster, admits to originally wanting a quickie with all the sentients, but when he hooked up, he discovered our loneliness. He is lonely too. You see, "he" is actually an entire universe with no one to talk to. So, although it was originally "just sex" for him, now he's in love and wants the chance to woo everyone properly.

So, all the sentients get together and decide to give the tentacle universe a chance at a first date, to see if they really do have something special together without the subterfuge. A bunch of humans and aliens go on dates and report back. At the meeting, it's decided to continue dating the tentacle universe.

But soon, that's not enough. Fry proclaims that he has received no intentions of a commitment, and he doesn't think he can go through the heartache again of a comittmentless relationship. It is then decided that they should all "break up" with Yivo. So they go in person to do the deed, whereby Yivo surprises the emissaries with a giant diamond engagement ring. Once again, the humans and aliens in our universe are convinced to remain in a relationship with the tentacle universe. Yivo then invites everyone to move in with him and sends down golden escalators to bring everyone through the rift to the tentacle universe.

Make note that this whole courtship was only towards the biological sentient beings in the universe. Robots were not included. This means that Bender, the robot with the attitude ("you can bite my shiny metal ass!") is left alone on Earth with only other robots & he has lost his entire crew.

Back in the tentacle universe, the people have arrived via golden escalators to a world of fluffy white clouds with harps just lying around everywhere, and a species of dumb "birds" that look suspiciously like human angels with white wings and robes that eat the parasites off Yivo in a mutually beneficial sort of symbiotic relationship. Fry finds himself lying in a post-orgiastic puppy pile on Mattress Island wondering why they used to all be so jealous, and isn't this so much better?

Back in our universe, Bender decides that it's up to him to rescue his crew from Yivo, now that (as he imagines) the rush of infatuation must be wearing off and the realities of cohabitating life must be disillusioning Fry and the rest of the crew. So ensues a quest to the rift and a battle between Bender and his demonic robot army dressed as pirates, and the tentacle universe.

Fry tries to stop the battle & convince Bender that he's actually really happy there and to please leave, when Yivo stops to question how Bender got the mysterious material he coated his sword with that allows him to penetrate the previously impenetrable hide of the tentacles. Fry has to admit to sending a letter back to Bender telling him how happy he is, in direct violation of their explicit agreement for Fry not to have any contact with any other universes (the letter was written on the material that Bender used to coat his sword that gave him the ability to chop through the tentacles).

Yivo decides he can no longer trust Fry & the relationship is too damaged to continue, and sends everyone else back to their own universe. Yivo does keep Colleen, though, as the only one who truly understands him, leaving Fry still partner-less. Fry asks why Bender caused all the trouble in the first place, after all, everyone was happy and in love. Bender says "Love? That's not love! ... Bender knows love! And love doesn't share itself with the world. Love is suspicious. Love is needy. Love is fearful. Love is greedy. My friends! There is no great love without great jealousy!" and he proceeds to choke his crewmates with his hug and his proclamation "I love you meatbags!"

I could use this to write a whole journal entry about how the Monogamous Mindset* does, indeed see love in such terms and why and how that's the problem with the world. But I won't. I'll let you all hear those words spoken in your head tinged with the irony and sarcasm I'm so well known for and let that make my point, for now.

I enjoy sarcasm and irony, and I, in particular, enjoy media that uses irony and sarcasm to make political and social commentary. So if you enjoy Matt Groening's animation and humor style, I recommend this movie. If you don't, I still recommend that it go on a list of poly-ish movies. It has been added to my Netflix Poly-ish Movies list (which you can now see even if you don't have a Netflix account!), and I will include a copy of it in the Poly Movie Library, available at orlandopoly meetings if the group ever decides to have a movie screening for a meeting.


*The Monogamous Mindset is a particular mindset found within monogamous societies that seek to justify and protect the institution of monogamy in direct opposition to contrary evidence and with many faulty assumptions as premises. It does not imply every single person who engages in monogamous relationships - that is why it is in capital letters and why I didn't just say "monogamy" or "monogamous people". One can be monogamous without having the Monogamous Mindset, and one can attempt to engage in non-monogamous relationships while still maintaining the Monogamous Mindset. In other words, if you're monogamous and don't do this, then I'm not talking about you.
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Added by Joreth
6 years ago on 23 October 2010 02:08



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