Equals and Oxytocin

March 04, 2017

I recently saw a fascinating movie entitled Equals staring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult.

It was produced by that master of Neo-noir Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, Thelma and Louise . . .) so it had a great look and feel; very slick, very visual, and very well scored. Basically it was a love story set in a future post-apocalyptic period in which the free and willful expression all human feelings and emotions have become a criminal act. Now you ask yourself how that works; a love story in which relationships are forbidden? Basically it is an expansion on the Oscar Wilde line, “The love that dare not speak its name,” only in this case it wasn’t just gay love but all love. Yes, in this future love is off the table, and the bed, the couch, car, a tent, elevator . . . But, let me be clear, we are not just talking about intercourse here, we’re talking about its emotional underpinning—that thing that happens when you look into someone’s eyes and you feel like you want to not just court and copulate, but to make love.

Set sometime in the future, Equals unfolds in a city inhabited by “The Collective” a beautiful space filled with attractive people dressed in chic white androgynous suits who file through gorgeous white minimalist architectural sets absent of all crime and violence. Filmed in Tokyo and Singapore it has a cinematographically beautiful look that could only be described as white on white. Though the hormone oxytocin was not ever uttered by name, the collective’s secret to eliminating crime and violence is to suppress all endocrine functions, the top of the list being the secretion of oxytocin.

Why oxytocin and why white? Because oxytocin and color evoke emotion and all emotions must be eradicated so everyone in town can live in peace. Everyone knows that the color red evokes passion. And what good is a red dress if its occupier isn’t making oxytocin to go with it. Orange is too playful, blue too inviting, purple too mysterious and romantic . . . accelerate them with a little oxytocin and, well, it’s all a bit too much for the collective. Emotional chaos!

Just to make sure everyone remains well behaved the collective specifically forbids anyone to touch, smile, grimace, or look for long periods of time into each other’s eyes. Of course copulation is out of the question. Engaging in any of those activities will just release a cascade of oxytocin and they can’t have that. It will only lead to the disease known as Switched On Syndrome (SOS) and will NOT be tolerated. Nope, there will be no expression of emotion. The folks “upstairs” look down upon this behavior as a precursor to SOS, a psychosomatic illness that subverts social and physical health, you know like; eczema, psoriasis, ulcers, heart disease, high blood pressure . . . . love must be eliminated if society is to survive.

As anyone who has ever been in love knows, a raging cascade of oxytocin is pretty difficult to hide. Nia and Silas try but love is in the air, and forbidden romance is, well, let’s just say the movie is propelled forward through a beautifully scored montage of Silas and Nia making out and groping in the woods and other secret places like the most architecturally elegant bathroom stalls to ever grace a movie screen. Did I mention that the movie had a great look? Or that it was exceptionally well scored? The soundtrack was as emotionally evocative as it is gorgeous.

Spoiler alert! Nia gets pregnant! No! This is so verboten. Of course pregnancy will never do because it triggers even more oxytocin which only induces lip and ear lobe and nipple sensitivity which leads to even more bonding and more copulation and, well in no time the jig is up and our two protagonists have become public enemy number one and two. Or, are they two and one? In any case one and one is about to make three which is grounds for elimination. Do the words “Want to get away?” come to mind. Apparently Southwest Airlines is no longer a going concern so with the help of a love underground our young lovers will have to come up with another plan of escape.

But wait! Will the neuro-researchers frantically working on a “Cure” to suppress Nia and Silvan’s errant oxytocin perfect it in time to save them? And, if so, will our young lovers take it? Do they have a choice? Or would they rather throw themselves to their death from one of those tall white buildings? I have one word for you, Fandango. Make your reservations now.