Predicting the future (?)

15 12 2009

There is much to be said about films nowadays. Not even just nowadays, but way back when, tracing to the 90s and even the 80s, looking at how technology might develop, and where we would be come certain points within the new millennium. Well… not just looking at the future, in terms of years, but also the use of advanced technology that doesn’t even exist yet. We have ROBOCOP, DEMOLITION MAN, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (what with the aliens and the rise of the machines and all), PAYCHECK (can you imagine a mind-wipe so severe?!), EQUILIBRIUM, THE RUNNING MAN, and now 2012, to name but a few. Also, take George Orwell’s novel 1984 into account (and let’s not forget ANIMAL FARM, although I won’t discuss it here) – the media saw fit to turn Big Brother into a television series, creating a perfect Panopticon, a type of hierarchy, if you will, between those in charge keeping an eye on the housemates, and the housemates themselves (not to mention our own voyeuristic involvement). You can read up about it on Wikipedia, or check one of my previous blog entries (14 May, to be precise) where I discuss the Foucauldian notion of the Panopticon.

That mouthful set aside, I have been wondering whether films truly can predict the future, and also what kind of power they may start to hold over our minds, thoughts/ thought processes and points of view. Now, this has not been a new notion for me. Being of a literary persuasion, I like to think about what the ‘text’ (be it a book or a film, id est the media form I am presented with) is saying, how it can be interpreted, and whether these fictions might be able to be viewed as factual, in a sense that (a) it seems fitting for the purposes within the ‘text’, or (b) that it does not seem like utter hogwash, and that there might be a strong possibility that what is being portrayed could turn into reality in the future (geez, another mouthful – what is it with me today?)

What got me thinking on the topic again was a simple little occurrence. After having persuaded my Significant Other to watch SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LOCH NESS MONSTER on Saturday, I thought that Sunday would be a good day to make him watch SCOOBY-DOO MEETS THE BOO BROTHERS. I had tried getting him to watch it on two other occasions, yet both attempts failed, as he arrived home tired from work, and after having eaten basically fell asleep on the couch. So Sunday evening I told him to switch on the television for our viewing pleasure, while I in the meantime reply to a text message my younger sister had sent me. When I went back to the living room, my eyes didn’t fall upon Scooby and the gang on the screen. No: he was watching DEMOLITION MAN. Now, as a fair individual, I decided it fit that we should watch what he wanted to (he was already absorbed in the film anyway). And, Dearest Readers, you will not believe what I came across in this film…

Background: the film is set in 2032. Sylvester Stallone’s character, John Spartan, was frozen way back when, but then unfrozen again to take care of a bad guy he had dealt with before (said bad guy also having been frozen and unfrozen; not great handling by those in power, if you ask me). Anyway, in the film, we find that the Future People have become a non-violent society. Oh, and they use proper language too. I’m not just talking about sentence structure and grammar. I mean their whole way of talking and stringing along sentences – Sandra Bullock’s character says the most polite things, such as: “I thought your life force had been prematurely terminated!”, “No, John Spartan, you do not accuse the savior of our city of being in league with a multi-murder-death-killer like Simon Phoenix! It’s… rude!”, and “You are a savage creature John Spartan, and I wish for you to leave my domicile now!”, amongst other things. If that isn’t proper, I don’t know what is.

Now, finally getting to the scene in the film that set my thinking sensors into overdrive: while Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) and John Spartan (Spartan – quite apt, huh? If you know your history… Oh, right, that’s Sylvester Stallone) are driving in her car, the following scene plays out (thank you IMDb):

Lenina Huxley: I have, in fact, perused some newsreels in the Schwarzenegger Library, and the time that you took that car…
JohnSpartan: Hold it. The Schwarzenegger Library?
Lenina Huxley: Yes. The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn’t he an actor when you…?
JohnSpartan: Stop! He was President?
Lenina Huxley: Yes! Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment which states…
JohnSpartan: I don’t wanna know. President…

And isn’t that ironic? Arnold Schwarzenegger might not be the president (yet, haha), but he is the governor of California. I just couldn’t believe my ears when aforementioned scene played out in the film. Was it predicting the future, in a way? Or did dear old Arnie watch the film, think, ‘Hmm, that’s a good idea’, and then eventually get himself elected into a position of power? Perhaps, if he watched the film, he didn’t think it out loud, or even consciously, but maybe his sub-/unconscious mind (whichever would be more fitting) took hold of the notion, and started plotting a way to make this prediction true to a certain extent.

That said, the only food chain (eatery wise, that is a place where you can go out to have a meal) that remains standing in the film is Pizza Hut. I mean, Sandra Bullock actually gets excited when she hears they are going to pizza hut, donning a fancy, glittery cocktail dress and gloves, gloves, for goodness sake – and the viewer must wonder, what in the blue blazes is going on here? Turns out that, since it was the only place to survive, it became all fancy and upper class, to term it lightly. The pizzas served look like appetizers you might find at a upper class cocktail party, being only bite sized, truly gourmet… Now, even though the Pizza Hut of the future became so upper class and snooty, it could act as another prediction: that fast food chains will take over the world. Which, in a way, is already happening. You can’t go anywhere without there being a McDonalds in sight. Not to mention drive-thrus, and whatever other services fast food places cater for nowadays.

I’m not sure what you think, but if fast food chains are going to take over the world, I intend to invest in a pantry and stock it up with goods – I’d rather stay home and prepare healthy meals than submit to the norm and have to deal with the ‘consequences’/ repercussions (and I’m sure you can imagine what those are).

What do you think?

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One response

17 12 2009
Kimwithak

I love Demolition Man! And if Taco Bell wins the fast food races, I’m going to be pissed!

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