Precarious Planet: Ecological Violence in The Age of Stupid


  • Catherine Mary Lord



Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid is a mosaic structured documentary which explores how human activity may indeed send the planet into ecological breakdown. The fictional and speculative future is conveyed through the dramatic device of a narrator, Pete Postlethwaite, who plays the world’s last archivist. He speaks from 2055, attempting to analyse through the selected documentaries, how humanity caused its own collective suicide. However, the film invites more than a reading that emphasises its politically activist aspects. Rather, through a dialogue with Giorgio Agamben’s concept of ‘bare life’, Walter Benjamin’s ‘Critique of Violence’ (1921) and Jacques Derrida’s critique of this in ‘Force of Law’ (2002), the film can deliver readings which do theoretical work. The dialogue between the film and the classical theoretical texts can offer a way of re-working the applicability of Benjamin’s concepts of ‘mythical’ and ‘divine’ violence and the invocation to which they point. Namely, Benjamin’s suggestion that it is important to declare a ‘state of emergency’ (1940).