Avant-Garde Goddess Aeon Flux
This week I am extending my tendril-like Kittie claws beyond the snuggly world of comic books, and delving into that mysterious thing called pop culture. I normally have no interest in writing about TV, movies, or any other type of entertainment medium, except to point out flaws because nothing gets passed these peepers, lemme tell ya. However, I feel we all have two sides to us. It may be the typical dark and light, happy and sad, up and down; we are all Geminis in our brains as far as attraction to certain mediums go. It’s obvious, but I like cartoons. Usually I like the kind in books with nice little bubbles attached to them, but sometimes there are exceptions.
Everyone hop on my magical time machine, and let’s go back to 1992, and visit an avant garde goddess named Aeon Flux. Most of us have heard the name, a lot of us have watched the show, and a good amount of us probably had our brains slightly busted open by it. Personally my metaphorical brain juices were all over the walls, but that’s just me. The reason I want to go this direction is because I am a sucker for philosophy and intelligence in mediums that hold everything from sex, to violence, to silly things aimed at children, for I feel that expansion upon things of that nature is an admirable thing. Also, yes, there is an Aeon Flux movie and a comic book based on the movie. Both are absolutely atrocious, and a total outrage in comparison to the kaleidoscope genius that is the TV show.
Obviously Aeon Flux is not the first cartoon to ever be intelligent, philosophical, or just plain took-too-much-acid-one-time weird. But it is definitely unique as all hell. Aeon is based on the Gnostic notion of emanations of God, specifically the Valentian notion of something called syzygy, which are a sexually complementary pair of emanations, male and female. In this case, it would be Aeon Flux herself, and her lover/enemy Trevor Goodchild, and this is a theme that carries out throughout the entire series, and is an extremely strong storyline in itself. Gnosticism is heavily present in the series, and there is an episode specifically titled “Demiurge”, which is an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The collection of ancient religions who embrace Gnosticism shun the material world and embrace the spiritual world. In fact, the transition from immaterial to material is believed to be created by a flaw, passion, or sin in an Aeon. This would make sense because an Aeon is considered to be an Gnostic angel of sorts.
I know you’re thinking that’s a lot of information for some weird trippy show that was on in the 90’s, but it really goes to show how much thought and soul was put into forming the concept of a being that is an angel, a devil, a savior, a destroyer. Peter Chung, the creator of the show, really does not get enough credit for the brilliant mind he has. He also created the character designs for Phantom 2040, which uses the same type of animation style.
But let’s get back to the leading lady. Aeon Flux is a secret agent from the nation of Monica, which is considered an anarchist society. In sharp contrast is the neighboring nation of Bregna, led by her nemesis/love interest Trevor Goodchild. Aeon is skilled in acrobatics, and is an expert assassin. Episodes show her completing various missions and tasks with the underlying message of the Monican beliefs fueling her. Nothing stands in her way. Not Bregnan soldiers, not weapons of all sorts, not locks and bolts. Nothing except the painfully human attraction to Trevor.
Aeon Flux is set in a world so dystopian, that the viewer doesn’t know who is right or wrong. Is Aeon right because she is trying to free the inhabitants of Bregna from the clutches of a police state, or is she simply a killer who is trying to fill a void in her life with bloodshed and sexuality? Or is Trevor Goodchild the good guy, whose tight grip on his people are his way of keeping things in order; a marching ant colony of people with missing limbs from failed escape attempts out of Bregna. Amongst swaying hips, and dancing tongues, there is a heartbeat of longing that all human beings feel for something that is neither good nor bad. It just simply is.
In the episode entitled “A Last Time For Everything”, Trevor has found a way to copy humans. Aeon gets herself in a situation so that he can deliberately take a sample of her DNA, and copy her. Her plan is to have the copy of herself toy with Trevor’s feelings for her, but in the midst of it, the real Aeon finds herself enslaved by feelings for him of her own. At the end of the episode, the real Aeon and her copy are fleeing the border of Bregna, and the real Aeon allows herself to be gunned down while her copy escapes. The episode ends with Trevor holding the real Aeon’s dead body, distraught. The depths that she goes to inflict pain on someone inevitably ends with her own death. Though she is an expert agent, her emotions often lead to her downfall, showing she is a far more depthful character that perhaps perceived at first glance.
An interesting thing about the show (you know, because the Philip K. Dick on drugs thing isn’t interesting enough) is that Aeon actually dies frequently in episodes. There is only a faint glimmer of continuity in the episodes, so they are, for the most part, stand alone. She has all the makings to be an invincible character, but her flaws are what shape her.
A big underlying message in the show is that of love and sex. Technology has advanced to extents that we can’t even grasp, but wanting is forever the same. The need for affection and touch from another person is something that is ageless. People still get lost in their raw need for it, some so much that it consumes them, has it has for years past and years to come. Aeon is different because she acknowledges this. She is very aware of the fact that she is a creature on a mission, but also a woman with needs, and she goes after those needs simply because she can, and wants to. Though she works for a specific agency, she often follows her own independent thinking, ultimately belonging to no specific cause but her own.
Perhaps the most recognizable piece of the series is the intro, where we see Aeon catch a fly in her eyelashes. I believe this piece of animation sums up the character she is the best: a beautiful hidden creature that will catch you in a lovingly deadly grip before you realize what has happened. A fly trap, a man trap, a trap of her own, but a piece of art nonetheless.