Never Let Me Go?

I wonder if any of you have read this book / seen this movie (that is, Never Let Me Go)? I have not had a chance to do so yet, but after reading its plot summary it sounds like it would provide very interesting fodder for analysis with respect to our class topics. I’m going to muse some about it beyond the break just based on what I’ve read on Wikipedia/elsewhere, so if you don’t want to be spoiled for the plot of this book/film, don’t read any further.

I guess this book/film takes place in a future dystopia set in the United Kingdom wherein human clones are being raised solely to serve as organ donors for other (non-clone) people. From the plot of the movie and what I’ve heard from friends who have watched it, it really seems like the movie is organized primarily in order to elicit a specific emotional response from viewers, by “delaying” the knowledge that the characters are intended to give up their lives to donate organs until after viewers have become emotionally attached to the characters as children, and later by drawing out further emotional responses through the introduction of a doomed romantic relationship. (Most of my friends, indeed, reported feeling extremely emotionally upset by this film.) I think it might be interesting to look at the content of the film with respect to its setting/cast and the emotional response it tries to elicit. After our class discussions about transnational organ donation and the way that organs or other biological materials in certain bodies, more often bodies of poorer people in poorer countries, are considered disposable/donatable in a way that does not extend to the bodies of richer people in richer countries. So my response to the impression I get of this movie’s plot from Wikipedia is, isn’t this already going on, in specific ways? Certain people are already constructed as “disposable” or existing in order to supply their tissues to others. But then I think it’s interesting that in this film, it’s all set in the UK and the three main actors in the cast are all white. So rather than reflecting the economic and transnational conditions of organ trading as they exist, this film sets up an imagined dystopia that seems uninterested in what is going on now, instead positing a scary “this could happen here!”

I went looking to see if anyone had written about this but from a brief search (I haven’t done an in-depth search) I just found people talking within the frame of the film, mostly holding it up as an effective critique of cloning/etc. I wonder if it might be more interesting to posit those specific affective moves made by the film, obviously targeting white UK viewers, by raising this horrific spectre of white people in the UK being created/raised/harvested for their organs. (However, since I haven’t seen the film, I must admit that I could be way off on all of this! Or maybe the film does try to address transnational organ trading and is intentionally focusing on white UK clones in order to first draw the audience in or something. I’m not sure. I would like to watch it someday when I have the time/energy.)

Another side point I haven’t really thought about a lot yet is that the book/film also explicitly connects affective care labor with organ donation. The clones have the choice to become “carers,” doing affective labor to support other clones who are in the process of donating their organs, before they must donate their own organs and die themselves. It’s maybe interesting that being a “carer” is a method simply to delay organ donation and death in this text.

Anyway, if any of you have actually seen/read this I’d enjoy having a discussion about it, since I don’t know when/if I’ll actually get around to seeing/reading it myself.


One response to “Never Let Me Go?

  1. i’ve seen it, and i definitely think it both exemplifies a cultural preoccupation with necropolitics or homo sacer, and is problematic in the racialization of the characters as white and very english. watch it!

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