terrible humanity

What ended up sticking out to me most while reading Oryx and Crake was how little good was attributed to the human race ("homo sapiens sapiens" [Atwood 99]). It was rather strange that despite hearing the story from a human's point of view, from Snowman's reflections on the past, the reader is presented with quite a terrible view of humanity. One of the first things that was mentioned was about one of the questionable games Jimmy and Crake would play: Blood and Roses, Blood representing the terrible deeds people have done in the past and Roses representing human achievements, like literature. But as Jimmy points out, "it was easier to remember the Blood stuff" (80) This could be because humans have a tendency toward remembering shocking things, violent things, atrocious things more than mild and pleasing things. Alternatively, it could be because there truly have been more Blood events in history than Rose events. In either case, humanity is not represented in a very appealing light.

Then, of course, there are all the sites Jimmy and Crake surf amongst for entertainment when they are still teenagers: the "Noodie News" (81), "Felicia's Frog Squash," "hedsoff.com," "alibooboo.com" (82), "shortcircuit.com, brainfrizz.com, and deathrowlive.com," and "nitee-nite.com" (83). The Noodie News is just kind of silly, with all the news reporters reporting while naked, but the other sites are not very pleasant. Felicia's Frog Squash is about exactly what it sounds like, and it is not alone it its type. Even more gruesome are hedsoff.com and alibooboo.com, where one can watch live executions and stonings from Asia and the Middle East. Similar sites representative of America are shortcircuit.com, brainfrizz.com, and deathrowlive.com, where, strangely, the men getting executed make a big show for the known viewers while the few women are killed in a very solemn affair, as if reminding everyone else that this punishment should not be entertainment. But the website that takes the cake, as it were, for showing how ridiculous people are is nitee-nite.com, where Jimmy and Crake can watch assisted suicides. The event is turned into a grand affair, and Snowman later reflects that "killing yourself was something you did for an audience," and if he did it now, with no one around to see, the act would be without "elegance" (344). Since when is suicide an elegant affair? The ease with which movies are made and uploaded onto the Web seems to have prompted everyone to go after their fifteen minutes of fame--sometimes in less thoughtful ways. Using suicide as a way to finally get noticed seems to go quite against the point, and truly all of these sites portray the rather shallow side of humanity.

Of course, Crake is not shocked at this, and himself views humanity with not a little contempt. "Monkey paws, monkey curiosity, the desire to take apart, turn inside out, smell, fondle, measure, improve, trash, discard--all hooked up to monkey brains, an advanced model of monkey brains but monkey brains all the same" (99). While great minds of the past have often raised humanity on a pedestal above all other animals, Crake has a more cynical, and probably more realistic view of human capabilities. Our being basically monkeys is not necessarily a bad thing, though it is a blow to our ego to think that we're no better than animals when as a society we have believed this for quite a while. But Crake doesn't stop here; he sees so many imperfections and unnecessary evils in humans that he believes will soon destroy us that he creates an entirely new species that is so much better. Gone is hierarchy, religion, all the bad that has ever surrounded sex. Many of Crake's instructions to Jimmy/Snowman about taking care of the Crakers include watching out for emerging human traits, like developing art and symbols, because these are supposedly a sign of evil to come. Truly, I think this depressing view of humanity is encapsulated in poor Snowman's thought when describing his name: "He's kept the abominable to himself" (8). He feels that while he teaches the Crakers, he must keep his central human-ness away from them and not influence them to become just like the race that Crake had so despised.