Futurology Part XVIII

Let’s think about the future some more. The future used to be so much cooler. Look at Back to the Future Part II. Our optimism was running so high, that when Marty McFly travelled to 2012, it was a techno-paradise. There were hoverboards. You could make a pizza go from the size of a dime to the size of a real pizza, right there in your kitchen. Every wall was a giant TV. Cars could fly. And did I mention hoverboards?

This vision of the future wasn’t sugarcoated either. It wasn’t perfect. Future Marty McFly still lived in kind of a dumpy house. He still got chewed out by his two-tie wearing boss. There were still truckloads of manure ready to be crashed into. That future was wondrous and marvelous and all that, but it still looked real.

The worst type of futures are where everything is too perfect. Like look at Star Wars. Everything is crisp, deluxe, clean, a little too clean. I don’t remember seeing any dirt anywhere in the entirety of the two trilogies. Nobody ever goes to the bathroom. Tattoine doesn’t count, because that wasn’t dirt, it was sand. Also, the ice planet Hoth doesn’t count either, because it was frozen. Now that I think about it, even when Luke and Han Solo spent the night together inside of that mountain yak’s stomach, they made it back to the base the next day looking cleaner than ever. That doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s not a convincing future. I know, technically Star Wars took place “A long time ago,” but seriously, spaceships, droids, light-sabers. Call it what you will, it’s a vision of the future.

At least when my parents’ generation was making films about the future, they were at least somewhat optimistic. They had enough whimsy to think about hoverboards and self-pumping sneakers. Whenever people imagine the future now, it’s always dystopian wasteland this, apocalyptic nightmare that. The Road just came out a year ago. I didn’t see it, but apparently the whole world was shot to shit. The Hunger Games. I never saw that either, but I read the plot on Wikipedia, and it didn’t seem like they had a great outlook about humanity or society. Prometheus, well, I didn’t get to see Prometheus either, I’m still waiting for it to come out on Netflix, but I saw the trailer, and while all the technology looked cool, I mean, it’s a horror movie, right?

Look at Wall-E. I know that all of these movies have long-term hopeful messages about humanity, but it’s way too long-term. As John Maynard Keynes famously said, in the long-term future, we’re all dead anyway. In the short-term future, the best that we can think of right now is massive destruction and planetary relocation. And seriously think about Wall-E for a second. Everybody on Earth moved onto that spaceship? I don’t buy that for a second. There’s no spaceship big enough to hold every person on Earth. We can’t even feed or clothe every human being on Earth, there’s no way we’re going to have some sort of smooth moving process, an “OK, single file everybody, there’s plenty of room on the spaceship for everybody, no pushing please, we promise, nobody’s going to get left behind to die.”

I’m telling you, I bet like ninety-five percent of the population got left behind. Weren’t all of the people living on the spaceship white? I don’t remember. But weren’t all of the babies being born in test tubes anyway? Why would they only breed white test tube babies? What kind of a future is that?

Imagine that our Earth started dying, fast, and the government made a huge spaceship for us all to relocate to. We would all claw each other’s throats out just to make sure that we got aisle seats. And then there would be the deniers, the people that say, “This is bullshit! The earth is fine! I’m staying and so are my followers. And not only that, we oppose the creation of any spaceship for anybody! We believe that everybody should stay here on this planet with us!”

And the news would have stories saying stuff like, “Where are they getting the money for this giant spaceship? Are your taxpayer dollars being spent wisely?” It would never get done. We’d all go down with the dying Earth. Not all of us. The mega-rich would just build their own, private, luxurious spaceships. And they’d be the ones to repopulate the cosmos. Assuming that’s it’s not already repopulated somewhere else. It has to be. But that’s another topic entirely.

Man, the future is scary. Maybe it’s because the present is so scary. Maybe I’m scared of too much stuff. Wall-E wasn’t really supposed to be a horror movie, was it? I mean, it was a kids movie, right?

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