After Earth And Hollywood’s Pathologies

So not only is After Earth a terrible Smith-family vanity project and a box-office flop, its story was inspired by the Super Adventure Club? Matt Patches says yes:

After Earth is essentially a map of Scientological development. It’s a man-vs.-nature story because Scientology suggests that all of life is just that. Before Kitai is set on his journey of personal discovery, he trains to be a Ranger (like his father) in the fashion of Scientology students. Smith’s New Village Leadership Academy is said to employ the techniques of “Study Tech,” a Hubbard concept that focuses on climbing the ladder. Kitai’s biggest woe is that he can’t reach the next level of military school. That’s par for the course in Scientology, where learning is described as a gradient, “a gradual approach to something, taken step by step, so that, finally, quite complicated and difficult activities or concepts can be achieved with relative ease.” It’s one of the parts of Scientology that many have focused on — the idea of having to pay for classes in order to advance upwards through the religion’s levels. Some critics have compared After Earth‘s structure as being like that of a video game, Kitai going from level to level. That’s really Study Tech. …

With After Earth‘s Scientology roots in mind, every element starts to ring familiar in the context of the religion. The threatening alien, turned murderous by the scent of emotion, is a literalization of the organization’s hard stance against psychiatric medicine.

For me, the volcano was the give-away. But the movie combines the two elements worth despising in Hollywood – nepotism and the cult of the Super Adventure Club. Rich Juzwiak, however, talks to a Scientology expert who didn’t recognize any such subtext in the film.