by Charles Arencibia
Children of Men (2006) is a dystopian film based on a novel of the same title. It looks at a future where birth rates have been completely drawn to zero for an unknown reason. The story has more relevancy than ever since according to weforum.org the worldwide fertility rates have declined by a total of 50%.
Some speculate that it may be due to the advance in modern medicine making the need for high-density families obsolete. But it may be caused by artificial substances.
According to PMC, microplastics have been proven to "exert toxic effects" on male mice's ability to reproduce. This study suggests that as time goes on, and the consumption of microplastics in our food, packaging, and products continues, it is inevitably going to severely impact the reproduction of humans.
Microplastics are almost impossible to avoid. They're in detergent, pesticides, and even the packaging of water bottles. Microplastics can cause hormonal imbalances that also affect fertility due to the synthetic estrogen found in them.
According to mayoclinic.org, overexposure to radiation can cause infertility. This is more relevant than ever since the average American uses a smartphone and/or another device that may emit radiation like a laptop. Radiation kills sperm cells and stems cells leading to a lower likelihood of pregnancy.
Radiation also affects women, since it can destroy eggs and cause disorders in their eggs.
According to cancer.org, "High doses can destroy some or all of the eggs in the ovaries and might cause infertility or early menopause."
Though smartphones and other electronic devices may release only a low level of radiation, they can still chip away at reproductive health. A possibly more worrying cause is the use of a chemical such as PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, which is no longer in use because it caused reproductive health issues along with a catalog of other health issues like cancer and birth defects.
Children of Men & Religion
Children of Men has many biblical aspects that are central to the theme of the film. The clearest of the biblical allusions is Kee's similarity to Mary and her child to Jesus Christ. Kee is a central character in the film as she is the first pregnant woman in years.
A group of Christian protestors in the streets hold signs and yell at people passing by telling them to repent. They believe that humanity's childlessness is God punishing them for their sins.
The child is the first person to be born in over 18 years, and the film's version of the incarnation story makes a few changes to put the story in a less black-and-white context. First, unlike Mary, Kee tells Theo, the film's main character, that she doesn't know the father because of her promiscuity. Second, unlike Jesus, the baby is a girl. These two distinctions change the context slightly, but they maintain the objective of the story.
The story maintains the child as a scapegoat; if Theo and Kee can deliver her to the Human Project, a group of researchers trying to find a solution to the infertility problem, then the child would save humans from extinction.
The characters acknowledge the baby's divinity in subtle ways. Soldiers make the sign of the cross when they notice the baby. A woman prays in a foreign language when she sees the baby.
Its timeless story has made it relevant nearly 20 years later. More than its noteworthy storytelling, Children of Men is more applicable today with the imminent fertility crisis. If our nation doesn't take these health risks seriously, Children of Men may be a preview into the future.