The world of Prime Video’s ‘Upload‘ is weird, to say the least. The premise is set in a near future where consciousness can be saved into hard drives and then uploaded into a virtual world where a person can live forever. Intriguing as it might be, this concept doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the shocking things that the show unloads on its audience later. One of the most eye-popping moments in the show comes in the second episode of its third season, in which Nathan and Nora visit a farm.
In a normal world, a farm would be full of animals who are cared for by their owners. In turn, these animals provide things that feed the world and keep things running for the farm owners. Something similar happens in ‘Upload,’ but it’s still worlds apart, especially when it comes to Strawberry the cow. Let’s explore the significance of the cow in the show. SPOILERS AHEAD
The Cow is Yet Another Form of Capitalism and Exploitation in Upload
While ‘Upload’ might be a sci-fi comedy series, it touches upon some very relevant themes about our world. The whole idea of the afterlife and its affordability gives the show’s creators immense space to explore the impact of capitalism and how it affects every single thing in our lives, and how, for the rich, even death is something that they can make money out of. However, it isn’t just limited to the billionaires. Because the world runs on capitalism, even those who aren’t ultra-rich have to do things that feed into the machine of the system that exploits them. This is where Elijah’s family and Strawberry the cow factor in.
Nathan and Nora meet Strawberry when they are taken to the farm, where they are expected to help. Nora possibly thought that they’d be doing digging or something else more natural. But then, it becomes clear that this farm, and other farms in the world of ‘Upload’ are anything but normal. It’s already an established fact that organic food is out of the general public’s reach, and most people can only afford to eat printed food. Real vegetables and meat and other stuff are reserved only for those who can pay for it. But something cannot come out of nothing. So where does this printed food come from? From the farms, of course.
The tour of the farm and the introduction to Strawberry is a way to show the audience how the world of ‘Upload’ works, especially when it comes to food. It takes the expression of “milking the cow” literally by showing us a several-foot-long cow that has udders for all kinds of milk and cheese. The cow is bioengineered to turn it into this otherworldly creature that is programmed to give as much as it can so that its owners can make as much money as they can out of it. They don’t have to have multiple cows to run a farm if one can do the job. This is why it’s so huge.
A cow that gives so much must be milked all the time, but this exploitation can take its toll on her. So, VR goggles are used to send her into another reality where she doesn’t have to think about anything anymore. It could be an endless pasture of green grass, and the cow could graze there forever without ever thinking about how much she is being overworked. We see a similar approach in the production of pork. Instead of rearing actual pigs, the farm owners discovered an easier way to make money. They found that a pig’s cancer grows at a much higher rate than the pig itself.
The world needs an endless supply of meat, which makes the cancerous part more profitable than the healthy pig. So, they got the cancerous pig and let the cancer grow out of control. Now, they have a lot of pork to sell and a ton of money to be made out of it. Does it concern them that people would be eating something cancerous? Of course not! As long as it tastes the same as a real pig, what does it matter? It is cheap for them and much more profitable. It doesn’t matter if it’s a building full of cancerous pig parts, or one huge cow with udders for different types of milk and cheese, as long as it makes money, they are going to cash it.
Read More: Is Matteo Dead in Upload?