Is ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ Antinatalist? – An Essay by G.B. Gabbler


If you don’t know what antinatalism is.

We all know that I really. Hate. Natalism.

And we all know that I recommended The Girl With All The Gifts.

But does it pass my standards of being antinatalist?

Let’s break it down.

Spoilers from here on out, curious cats. 

In the film version of The Girl With All The Gifts, at the very end, all “regular” humans are killed off (except one, who is protected by the new generation so that she can impart her knowledge). These children (the new generation) are not susceptible to the zombie-fungus-virus-infection that regular humans are. Essentially, they are half-zombie, half-human. I refuse to call this hybrid generation “hungries,” as this makes them seem more like the zombies than the combination that they are. Throughout the movie, arguably, the not-yet-infected “old” generation of humans has held civilization back. They struggle to survive and cause suffering when doing so.

Humans, until this point, have treated the new, immune generation poorly–like another thing to be colonized to secure their own, selfish survival. They subject the children to experiments, captivity, and even death. This is all done in search for a “cure” or antidote so that the old generation of humans can keep on living. It is never in the interest of the new generation.

It is not clear (as far as I can remember) where the zombie-fungus came from. If created, it did not seem like it was created to enhance humans in anyway. The captive zombie-human children were not created purposefully. Thus, there is no true “playing God” scenario being enacted here. Just straight-up colonialism and exploitation. The thought never occurs to the old generation that these children are how civilization continues. They see them too much as the “Other” — as not human.

Perhaps this is why we do not argue about, to the same extent, letting another, current species, take over. If it was so easy to “step aside,” we would have done it a long time ago—should have done it a long time ago. Beyond breeding ourselves to death, we have fucked every other species in every way we can. We have made hybrids and new breeds that should not exist (example: the bulldog which cannot even give natural birth). Yet our playing God with these organic beings has never led us to consider how they might be an intelligence worth investing in—worth handing the world over to—worth giving up our existence for. Allowed to evolve to our level of “intelligence” or enhanced by our own involvement, the closest we have come to considering handing the world over to another species is in stories like The Island of Doctor Moreau, Mort(e), or Planet of the Apes. The handover is usually met with resistance. Perhaps this is because we cannot claim such “experimentations” as real Creations. We are only tampering with the gods’ designs. Just like having our own children, we are only passing on our self-same DNA—the same coding shared with all other biological forms.” [Via]

By ignoring the children’s suffering, humans have essentially destroyed themselves and their own memory. Yes, one could argue that letting the children live is still natalist — the children are, in fact, half human and carrying on the species in some fashion. But they do not carry on in the same, colonialist fashion as the old generations has.

Dr. Glenn Close, trying to convince a child to give up her brain to help old people.

For example: The main character, Melanie, of the new generation, questions the doctor wanting to kill and use her: Why should they die to help a species that is so selfish? Though Dr. Caldwell is dying (not of the fungus), she still wants to colonize and continue her pro-natalist agenda for a cure that will likely not end up saving anyone. Dr. Caldwell is too focused on her own species to see how futile her fight is. Melanie kills her to end suffering for both parties.

Melanie also traps Helen, as the children had been trapped, for Helen’s protection from the now-airborne fungus. Captivity, in this instance, is an exhibit of anti-colonialism. Stick the colonizer in captivity for true safety. Seen in parallel to zoos, which are a colonialist concept that actually harms animals more than it protects them, this sheds light on the horror of ourselves: Either we stop colonizing or our colonizing stops us. This, I suppose, could be read as our capitalism and greed destroying everything and trapping us on the dying planet. What have you.

Keeping the last human on earth “safe” means subjecting her to a reverse captivity. Perhaps the only true way captivity keeps anything safe is putting the colonizer in a cage.

Beyond this, we do not know the breeding habits that will develop in the children. Are they, since they are half fungus, even sexual in the same way as humans? Are they immortal? Will they exploit the earth to get their food? Will they breed and destroy the planet in the same fashion as the old generation has? This is left unanswered and is unimportant. For they have already established themselves as different from the previous humans.


Thus, yes, this film is antinatalist. It is a story that counters colonialism, speciesism, and natalism. It is a step in the right direction of dystopia and post-apocalyptic stories.


One comment

  1. Hajtom Jones · May 21

    With further understanding with the technology that man has, and its resilience. What the girl did was just to ensure a very long battle against two species now. Obviously even if the spore would be able to infect the earth the spread of it is not immediately global. Once the surviving humans which are most likely remnants of various governments know that it is airborne they will take measures to protect themselves. Gas masks and sealed living spaces isn’t that all hard to establish at that point. Now since the 2nd Generation would start from scratch chances are before they can become like any coherent society able to fight wars, humans will still re-multiply, more advanced. The Search for a cure will continue and probably will happen since based on the film they already know how to look for it.

    Chances are the girl just made the world a bit hostile to humanity but will not wipe it out. If then they know it was Melanie who started this, it could just be that man will do a control and subjugate if not wipe out the 2nd Generation. 2nd Generation will not be able to conduct a war it can win. Man can create a sustainable living standard with a hostile atmosphere. Not to mention the nukes for example they can still use against any cluster of 2nd Generation they may encounter if it gets to that.


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