Doctoring Fukushima: from nuclear catastrophe to natural bodily function

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident, an interesting video has been circulating. Disguised as an educational animation targeting children, it is actually an anonymous pro-nuclear propaganda feature based on a tweet by media artist Kazuhiko Hachiya. Nuclear Boy (a character representing Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant) has a bad case of stomach-ache. A series of defecation-based incidents ensue. Doctors take turn to ease his condition and hopefully they will help him avoid ‘Tchernobyl diarrea scenario’.

Scatological humor aside, what is interesting here is the concurring efforts to medicalize and to naturalize a nuclear disaster. If the explosion of a reactor is comparable to defecation, it becomes a natural bodily function. It is thus inscribed in the normal course of events. It is even vital that Nuclear Boy ‘passes some gas’ at some point. In this case, like in others I’ve been discussing in this blog, the negative effects of human-made technologies are normalized by inscribing them into a medical  discourse about the body. As far as medical knowledge is summoned up to provide scientific backing to the claim that ‘everything is for the best’, the entire event becomes a moralizing hygiene lesson comparable to those that early 20th institutions used to deliver to the masses.

Hidden track #2: Cartoon philosopher fustigates reductionism

It’s a sad, sad world, one where we have to rely on Richard Linklater’s innocuous films to express unpopular opinions. Like for instance this one:

“Believing that biology and physics can explain all of human behavior is nothing short of a reductionistic fallacy, as they do not take into account culture, individual choices – and ultimately free will”.

But don’t take my word for it. Here is a short excerpt from Linklater’s movie Waking Life (2001), where philosopher David Sosa (University of Texas, Austin) discusses determinism in a…ehm, cartoon interview.