What would Darwin say?

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What would Darwin say?


The 2005 film “The Darwin Awards,” starring Winona Ryder, is a tale of people who contributed to the improvement of human genetics by eliminating themselves on the basis of the theory of natural selection.

Charles Darwin is, of course, the father of the theory of evolution.

The Darwin Award sounds complex, but put simply, it’s an award given as a token of gratitude to people who would not have helped improve the quality of the human race had they been alive, for ending their own lives and stopping their foolishness from being inherited by their descendants.

No matter if this is simply a story in a film, but this award (http://darwinawards.com) actually exists. There have been winners every year since 1985, and many books detailing their absurd stories have been published.

The stories are all different. One person died because he was squashed by a vending machine when he tried to steal a can of Coke, another drowned after trying to sail in a yacht with holes mended just with tape, and another burned to death when he set his house on fire after being ordered to give his wife the house in a divorce settlement.

It is comical, but from a Korean point of view, it is inappropriate to turn the stories of people who lost their lives into a subject of ridicule.

This is reminiscent of the nasty comments posted online about the deaths of famous people. What would Darwin think of his name being used for such jokes?

There is no need to reopen a discussion on how Darwin’s theory contributed to intelligent development of the human race. But the criticism that his theory has been used to rationalize suppression of the weak by the strong always seems to come up, too.

Some argue that if there had been no Darwin, there would have been no eugenics and no Holocaust.

The cultural world also sometimes holds a grudge against Darwin, because of the opinion that TV programs that lag behind in ratings should immediately fold, and films that do not rule the box office should disappear.

Thankfully, independent films like “Old Partner” sometimes miraculously lure an audience of 500,000, reminding people of their foolishness.

Celebratory events of the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth on Feb. 12 were held around the world, but we should not forget the many foolish things we have done under the pretext of his theories.

The Darwin Awards could be significant in this sense, serving as a reminder of our mistakes.


The writer is a team manager at JES Entertainment.

By Song Won-sup [five@joongang.co.kr]


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