Like every other conceivable topic, radio-host Alex Jones had a radically different take on Oblivion. When I heard him praise the movie and call it an anti-illuminati tour de force, I decided to give it a shot despite the unimpressive previews and the mixed reviews. I'm certainly glad I did, as Oblivion is the only movie I can remember seeing twice in the theaters. It now ranks amongst my all-time favorite "everything is a lie" movies where the protagonist wakes up to an earth-shattering paradigm-shift such as They Live, Solyent Green, and The Matrix. Oblivion is an amazingly profound movie with a plot that is air tight as long as you understand the symbolism and the messages it is promoting. Unfortunately, I think that was lost on most viewers, but I'm happy to explain in the hopes that Oblivion receives the credit it deserves.
Symbolism - Jack Harper and the Tet
The year is 2077, and Tech 49 Jack Harper believes he is one of the last humans on planet Earth. Sixty years ago an alien attack destroyed the moon causing cataclysmic events on Earth, which was followed by a ground invasion by the "Scavs". The surviving humans were able to defeat the aliens using nuclear weapons, but at the cost of making the earth mostly inhospitable for human life. The humans built a giant tetrahedral space station called the Tet and migrated to Titan, a moon of Saturn. Jack is a member of the "mop-up crew" on planet Earth, watching over flying power stations that create fusion energy from sea water. His mission is to protect these power stations from the remaining Scavs by repairing the autonomous, weaponized drones, which protect the power stations and hunt down Scavs. Due to the criticality of his mission, Jack's memory was wiped out 5 years ago, but in two short weeks he will go with his partner Victoria to reunite with his human brethren on Titan. At least, that's what he thinks.
As Jack Harper discovers during the course of the film, the reality concerning his own identity, the Scavs, and the Tet is the opposite of what he was lead to believe. The Scavs are not the alien menace he thought, but are the tattered remains of human civilization that live underground and disguise their appearance to avoid the murderous drones. The Tet is not of human creation, but is itself the source of the alien attack that destroyed the moon and most of the life on planet Earth. And finally, Jack Harper is not a man with a mere 5 year memory wipe, but is one of countless clones of a NASA pilot who was captured by the Tet 60 years ago. The first wave of the Tet's ground invasion consisted of armies of Jack Harpers programmed to destroy their own kind. Now in the next phase, the Jack Harper clones serve the more efficient role of repairmen, delegating the job of hunting and killing to the drones.
So what does the Tet symbolize? When Jack has his final confrontation with the Tet he encounters a sentient, upside-down pyramid with an all-seeing eye that says "I am your God!". The Tet exists to destroy humanity while controlling them like cattle when they can serve its purpose. The Tet has perfected the art of concealing the truth and programing human beings with a false reality so that these "useful idiots" may assist in the fulfillment of its master plan. The Tet is the Illuminati.
|The final villain is a pyramid with an all-seeing eye, could the symbolism be more obvious? Like Brave New Bookstore, Oblivion inverts the Illuminati symbol as a sign of resistance and disrespect to their top-down power structure.|
For those only familiar with the Illuminati and its symbolic all-seeing eye pyramid through Dan Brown novels, the National Treasure movies, or the back of the $1 bill, the historical Illuminati was a secret society founded by Adam Weishaupt on May 1st, 1776 in Bavaria. The ruler of Bavaria later banned all secret societies, including the Order of the Illuminati, and this resulted in many of their secret documents being seized and published in 1787 as their members fled and disbanded.
While no one denies that the Bavarian Illuminati existed, any reference to such a group after their suppression in Bavaria is pure conjecture and the object of ridicule. Various conspiracy theorists will point to the hand of the Illuminati pulling strings and planning events ranging from the French Revolution, the Federal Reserve System, JFK's assassination, and the various maneuverings towards a one-world government, or a New World Order, up to this day.
|Take a close look at a $1 bill and ask yourself, when did an all-seeing eye pyramid become an American symbol?|
Whether or not the Illuminati exists a la Eyes Wide Shut, the prevalence of its concept and symbolism is hard to deny. Consider the pyramid and the all-seeing eye. The bottom of the pyramid is the foundation and the widest part of the structure. Here lie the masses that prop the power structure up and are in turn dominated by those above them. Each succeeding level of the pyramid represents fewer people with a higher level of understanding and greater power over those below them. At the very top of the pyramid you reach "illumination" with god-like power and knowledge. This symbol would accurately represent the functioning of any secret society, such as the Masons, where it is argued that "porch Masons" at the bottom think their organization is all about charity and fraternity, but only select members that advance through the ranks to ultimately reach the status of the 33rd degree would be made privy to the true secrets and goals of their organization. This compartmentalized structure common in all secret societies makes plausible the claim that the Illuminati did not disband after Bavaria, but merely infiltrated other shadowy organizations.
With a secret society being, by definition, officially non-existent, the same group may be referred to by various names such as the Illuminati, the New World Order, or the Insiders. Call it what you will. However, credibility becomes an issue when you cannot point to anything more concrete than a hypothetical shadowy group, so it is important to note these claims are not only found on obscure websites where people can say anything. Dr. Carroll Quigley of Georgetown University wrote Tragedy and Hope, which exposed the true role that elite secret societies have played in the historical events of the last 100 years. He also wrote The Anglo-American Establishment, which documented how Cecil Rhodes used his fortune to set up secret societies known by various names, including the "Round Table Group" and the "Milner Group", which in turn created front organizations including the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Institute of Pacific Relations, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In his books Quigley made it clear that he was aligned with this nameless secret society, he agreed with their methods and goals, he just believed that their true role in history is too important to be left in the shadows. And the shadows is exactly where they would prefer to stay.
Jack Harper could be generally thought of as the American booboisie. He is a man born in America, numbered and tracked from birth, raised in a government school that teaches him that everything good in the world comes from government and that it is perfectly normal to have every activity he wants to engage in licensed, regulated, and dictated by his superiors. Jack Harper is the man who is taught that the highest form of morality is to obey authority, whether that is the teacher, the drill Sargent, or the President. Jack Harper is the American who swears an oath to protect and defend the constitution, but has no idea what it means. He is the man that sheds a tear at the pledge of allegiance, but has no concept of the principles that America was founded upon. Jack Harper is the 18-year old high school senior that wants to serve his country, puts trust in the authority of those around him, and ends up massacring innocent people in 3rd world countries. Perhaps the closest comparison is to the 22 year-old serial-killer drone pilot, as he, like Jack, doesn't get up close and personal to the Scavs he believes are his enemies, and is thus prevented from recognizing their common humanity. It's hard to be angry at a Jack Harper, pity is the most appropriate response. All you can try to do is wake him up, and if that fails, forgive him because "he knows not what he does".
The Implications of Serving the Tet
Recognizing the Tet as the Illuminati, or whatever name you choose to give the power behind the throne, and Jack Harper as the useful idiot who serves them, several powerful messages are readily apparent. The first is to recognize that Jack Harper and those like him that serve evil usually think they are doing good. Creating such a person is accomplished through instilling the belief in obeying authority rather than thinking for oneself, being brainwashed with a false history, and staying within very narrow confines of reality that constitute one's compartmentalization.
For Tech 49 Jack Harper, the compartmentalization couldn't be more obvious. Jack is told that the whole world is radioactive and inhospitable, such that he never leaves the designated area that he is assigned to monitor. Whenever his spacecraft approaches the edge of the box that he is confined in, flashing lights warn him to turn around before he enters the deadly radiation zone. As long as he stays within the boundaries of his pre-approved reality he will continue to be a trusting and obedient servant to his masters. But the moment he breaks out of the radiation zone and comes face to face with Tech 52, a clone of himself, he realizes that his entire life is based on lies.
|Drones aren't so cool when they're pointed at you. As Tech 49 Jack Harper says, "It's just a machine, I'm the weapon."|
Another of Oblivion's messages is that you can't join evil. You may serve it, but you are still the enemy. Jack Harper and Victoria of station 49 believe that their 5 year duty is almost up and they'll finally get their just rewards on Titan. But that's not the way the Tet works. If they continued to serve the Tet then they'd only have 2 weeks left before they would be liquidated and replaced with new clones off the factory line. The odds of beating the Tet may seem insurmountable to Jack, but at least by facing reality and turning against his true enemy he has a fighting chance, and more importantly, is not willfully working towards his own destruction.
While Tech 49 Jack Harper at least shows curiosity and a willingness to disobey authority, his partner Victoria represents the willfully ignorant. She never questions authority, and she never disobeys. Jack sees beauty in a flower and brings it to her, but all she sees is a violation of their regulations such that she quickly throws it away under the excuse that "it could have germs". When Jack commits an offense against authority so severe in her eyes she betrays him and turns him in to the Tet, it's not only Jack that the drone turns against, but it actually kills Victoria first. Thus, there is no winning when serving evil. You can, like Victoria, turn away from the awful truth and say, "I don't want to know!" while sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich. But that's what the evil wants, it depends on your naiveté, your inability to comprehend the darkness in the heart of man. When your head is in the sand you are a much easier target.
A Message of Hope: Wake up and Fight!
The most uplifting message in Oblivion is that it's never too late to wake up, regain your humanity, and join in the fight against evil. Many complain, myself included, about the dangerous tyranny that seems to be accelerating towards our front door, but what do we face compared to the living nightmare of Oblivion? And yet there is hope. No matter how much propaganda and disinformation the system puts out, all it takes is someone with a little curiosity and love in their hearts to recognize the lies for what they are and break out of their conditioning.
Jack is curious, but he is also courageous. He is irrevocably changed when he witnesses a drone killing human beings in sleep pods that crash-landed in his sector. When he interposes himself between a total stranger and the drone that he was responsible for fixing, totally willing to die in order to save the life of another, he has crossed the tipping point. Morgan Freeman's character is a leader of the Scavs / Humans, and he remarks that he first thought Tech 49 Jack Harper was different when he saw him pick up a book and display curiosity, but when he saw Jack risk his life to save another from the drone, he knew Jack was the one he was looking for.
|Mentioning the Illuminati requires a reference to numerology: note that Tech 49 Jack Harper and the main drone he fights, #166, both add up to 13, which is supposedly a sacred number to the Illuminati, referring to their 13 bloodlines.|
Once Jack Harper obeys a moral law rather than the law of authority, once he chooses to protect a stranger against the drone that he is ordered to serve, not only does the system turn against him, but he finally sees the truth of the world around him. His entire paradigm is turned upside down in a moment. This is the symbolic death of Tech 49 drone-repairman Jack Harper and the rebirth of someone new, someone like the NASA pilot captured 60 years before. As bad as things are, the system always has a weak spot because it is built on a foundation of lies and it completely depends on the Jack Harpers of the world to follow orders and never cross outside of their designated zone. But all it takes is a little curiosity, a willingness to disobey authority, to ask "why?" rather than to say "yes, sir", and the whole evil system can be brought down in the blink of an eye.
Conclusion: Recognize the reborn Jack Harpers all around us
When Jack Harper sees the drone that he is ordered to serve murder innocent people in front of his eyes, all of his training, programming, and brainwashing goes out the window. He risks his very life to stand up against a gross injustice, even though it goes against everything he was taught to believe. He is a hero, and we should learn to recognize the heroes around us that answer to a higher morality than that of blindly obeying authority. When our overseers call them traitors, we need to ask just what have they committed treason against - good or evil?
|They called him a traitor, now we call him a hero.|
Think of Bradley Manning as he rots in a secret prison somewhere. He too saw that his supposed enemies did not deserve to be shot like dogs in the street, and he risked everything, his very freedom, to expose the "collateral murder" that occurred in his name.
Today the cries of treason are being launched against Edward Snowden. He has risked everything he is and has to expose the blatantly unconstitutional violations committed by our government, explaining that he doesn't want to live in a world where everything he says and does is recorded. The question is the title of a hundred articles, is he a traitor or a hero?
Whether you decide traitor or hero for a particular circumstance, at least we still live in a world where human beings have the capacity to choose whether to follow orders or obey a higher law. As is made terrifyingly clear in Oblivion, weaponized, autonomous drones will not question orders. They will obey their masters, always. We're not there yet, and we should make every effort to keep it that way.