Sunday, March 23, 2014

Odd Future

Despite what your idiot friend posted on Facebook, today (or yesterday, or a week ago) is not the future date Doc and Marty traveled to in "Back to the Future II." The real date however, October 21, 2015, is not that far off. It's a date that I've had on my mind for most of my life and for me it'll be a pretty surreal experience when it actually comes around. It's a rare thing to be able to have the singular fan experience of existing in the exact same date as a favorite film or TV show. Star Trek is in the distant future, Star Wars is in the distant past (and a distant galaxy), we're about 60 years ahead of Indiana Jones, and I don't even know if the Lord of the Rings even takes place in our reality. I guess X-Files and Terminator fans could lay claim to experiencing a near future date set by their creators, though since they both involve the end of the world I imagine it wasn't quite as fun (in the case of Terminator fans Judgment Day just keeps on getting moved up like the predictions of a really lousy cult leader).

October 21, 2015 unfortunately will also likely bring the BTTF fan many disappointments when it comes to predicted advances in technology. I even found an old post in the archives listing my top 5 things I'll be disappointed in the distant year of 2015 if they didn't exist (it's quite disturbing that the post is almost 7 years old) and it seems only one item, power laces from Nike seem to be a possibility.

While the likely lack of future wonders like hover board technology, delicious hydrated Pizza Hut pizza, automated dog walkers, and dust resistant paper (you know for all that paper media we use) is a bummer, I started to consider maybe there were some things from the Hill Valley of 2015 we are better off not having. Here are a few things:
  1. The US Weather Service. Sure it seems awesome that meteorological science had advanced to the point where weather could be predicted to the second (alas the Post Office is apparently still a mess in 2015). This is assuming that this is how the Weather Service works. Consider the possibility that the Weather Service isn't predicting the weather with deadly accuracy but rather controlling it. Now the name takes on a much more ominous tone, like the arm of some powerful totalitarian Big Brother. Having absolute control of the elements would go a long way in maintaining a subtle but complete control over a society. Could the world of 2015 Hill Valley be a discreet dystopia?
  2. Hyper Inflation. When Doc gives Marty instructions on how to pretend to be his future son, he tells Marty to order a Pepsi at the Cafe 80's and gives him a fifty. Now it could just be that Doc only has large bills on him and doesn't care if Marty's going to look like a jerk going into a restaurant to order a soda and pay with a fifty dollar bill, but then later on Marty is solicited by a volunteer on the street asking to donate $100 to save the clock tower as if it were spare change. I know that our economy's been pretty rough so far this decade but our currency hasn't lost that much value.
  3. No Lawyers. Marty reads a newspaper article about his son being arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 15 years in the state penitentiary within two hours. When he asks Doc how all that could be done in 2 hours, he explains that "the justice system works swiftly in the future, now that they've abolished all lawyers." Contemporary society's hatred of lawyers aside, do we really want to live in a future where lawyers are abolished and long prison sentences are determined in a matter of hours? How are these "trials" conducted? Isn't that how the justice system works in North Korea? This sort of goes back to my suspicions that BTTF 2015 is actually a harsh authoritarian dystopia.
  4. Handheld Roofie Devices. Doc uses a convenient handheld "sleep inducing alpha rhythm generator" to immediately knockout Marty's overly inquisitive girlfriend Jennifer and later Marty's son so Marty could take his place. Call me crazy but such a device may have potential for some abuse. Is this some black market good or just the contemporary version of pepper spray. I really hope Doc had to buy it from some shady drug dealer in some dark alley rather than just purchasing it at the nearest CVS. Fortunately, for the foreseeable future, would be date rapist will have to drug victims the old fashion way.    
  5. Creatively Bankrupt Film Industry. Sure Hollywood is guilty of leaning too heavily on sequels and adaptations of established franchises while taking as little risk as it can in terms of novelty and creativity, but I don't think it'll ever get bad enough to the point where a 19th Jaws movie is produced. Going by the historical decline of the series from the classic original to universally panned Jaws 4: The Revenge, I shudder to think how absurdly terrible the 18th sequel would be, in hologram form no less (even the Saw movies stopped at 7). By contrast the movie industry is in much better shape in reality than in this fictional 2015. 
  6. Japanese Hegemony. The film's future seems to be reflecting the fears of the 1980s that the surging Japanese economy would eventually come to dominate America. I suppose fortunately for us, that the Japanese have been in an economic funk for the past decade or so and however poorly we're doing they're doing just as poorly or worse. American workers won't have to kowtow to their angry Japanese corporate overlords who regularly monitor their personal video calls and instantly fires them via mass faxes (I love how there's a fax machine in every room of the house). Tying it back to my dystopia theory, maybe it's the Japanese that are running the show as if the U.S. was conquered by them sometime between 1985 and 2015. They could now be running America with an iron fist, controlling our weather, abolishing our adversarial judicial system, wrecking our currency, manufacturing rape devices, and hamstringing our movie industry Hmmm...sounds like a potential YA franchise.