Could be worse
The future, as seen by people in the past. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
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Welcome to the future
The year was 2022, and things were really pretty terrible.
The strong preyed on the weak. Aliens attacked humans. Things got so bad that people resorted to wide-scale cannibalism.
Also, Ray Liotta joined the Marine Corps (but wound up in prison), Mark Hamill and Keanu Reeves traveled through time (separately, and for very different reasons), and Lindsay Lohan tried to make a comeback (it didn’t work).
OK, I had some fun putting together that intro, and I’m curious how many readers will get some of the references. The vignettes above are all from movies that are now (mostly) decades old, but that purported to take place in what then seemed like the far-off, distant future: the year 2022.
Today is a Monday morning in January after an intense weekend with a lot going on. So let’s start the week with something off the wall: a bit of how Hollywood thought we might be living right now.
1. They sort of predicted Mark Zuckerberg’s latest move.
Take the 1994 Billie Dee Williams movie, Alien Intruder. The premise here is that in 2022, we send convicted criminals to space, where they’re incentivized to behave well and pass the time by living out various fantasies via virtual reality.
I gather this was like pretending to be a cowboy in the 1800s, or a knight in medieval England, with some R-rated stuff thrown in. Pure Facebook metaverse stuff. The plot has to do with aliens infiltrating the simulations.
2. They realized we’d all be really into nostalgia.
One of the movies I hadn’t realized would be on this list is 2020’s Bill & Ted Face the Music. It bombed at the box office, but only due to COVID. I admit that I haven’t actually seen it, but I’ll remedy that soon. I’ve seen the original Bill & Ted probably 10 times.
Plus, the reviews of Face the Music, which takes place partially in 2022, say things like, “Bill & Ted Face The Music still managed the impressive feat of keeping its comedy feeling fresh and funny decades after the arrival of the original.”
3. They reused old plots.
Specifically, if I get this right, the old plot at issue is The Most Dangerous Game, which is itself almost 100 years old (first published: 1924).
In 2022 as foreseen by the 1994 movie No Escape, we have the previously mentioned Ray Liotta joining the Marines, refusing to kill civilians and getting court-martialed as a result (convoluted; it would take more time to explain than it’s worth), and ultimately being hunted on some kind of prison planet.
I haven’t seen this one either, but reviews are favorable, in case you ever come across it: “A surprisingly deft streak of satire runs through the dark heart of this violent, fast-paced thriller, which has aged well.”
4. They portrayed our darkest fears.
Dark fears: Ah, there was The Purge, which portrayed a planet on which for one night per year—for reasons I can’t quite explain—all crime was legal. In their version of 2022, people were wearing masks a lot, which was eerily prescient.
There was also Time Runner (1993), in which Mark Hamill has to time travel to try to prevent a 2022 alien takeover. (Pretty close to a Terminator rip-off, right? Also how did Hamill not have enough money from Star Wars to be able to avoid low-rated movies like this?)
Finally, I hate to tear down Lindsay Lohan, especially since I liked Mean Girls back in the day (heck, even the 1998 reboot of The Parent Trap). But her version of Among the Shadows, released in 2019 but taking place in 2022, and apparently about “a private investigator … [who is] a descendant from a line of werewolves,” has a 2.2/10 average rating on IMDB. So maybe skip that one.
5. They apparently thought we’d still be driving early 1970s cars.
The most famous movie predicting 2022? That has to be Soylent Green, and there’s a lot to unpack: for example, the degree to which some people now say that it accurately predicted 2022, despite being the earliest movie on this list.
Personally, I find the trailer hopelessly dated, but the movie itself, still engrossing. Also, I doubt I’m violating any “spoiler alert rules” by revealing, nearly 50 years after its debut, that the most famous line at the end of this movie is, “Soylent Green is people!” Either you know that, or it will make no sense.
Often overlooked, however: the fact that they tried either to update almost everything or push it into a dystopia. Yet everyone is still driving old Chevys and Oldsmobiles.
Anyway… there are a few others, too, none of which I’d ever heard of, offering 1970s and 1990s ideas of what 2022 would be like. But here we are in the real one, with an ongoing pandemic and total lack of comity, but a lot better entertainment options, all things considered.
No, it ain’t Shangri-la, as it turned out. But it could have been a lot worse.
7 other things worth knowing
Actor Bob Sagat, 65, best known for his role on the 1990s sitcom Full House, was found dead in an Orlando hotel room, according to media reports. No cause of death was released as of last night, but the authorities said there were “no signs of foul play or drug use.” (Fox 35 Orlando)
The White House says it’s concerned that Iran might be plotting assassination attempts against former Trump administration officials, especially those involved in the killing of Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani. “Make no mistake: the United States of America will protect and defend its citizens,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday. “This includes those serving the United States now and those who formerly served.” (Washington Examiner)
After arguments Friday, the US Supreme Court seemed very skeptical of President Biden’s vaccine mandate plan and ready to strike it down. Debate afterward centered on whether one justice had gotten the statistics completely wrong (saying that the annual flu kills either “hundreds of thousands,” or else, “hundreds, thousands” of people). But, honestly, it’s not likely to matter. (Newsweek)
At least 19 people were killed, including nine children, and 32 more suffered life-threatening injuries after NYC’s deadliest fire in more than 30 years tore through a Bronx apartment high-rise Sunday morning. Reports say the fire started as a result of a space heater accident. (NY Post)
A nuclear fusion reactor in China has set a new record for sustained high temperatures after running five times hotter than the sun for more than 17 minutes, according to Chinese state media. (The Independent, via MSN)
A 61-year-old mom, Beth Davis, is battling cancer and wants her 30-year-old daughter to find Mr. Right, so she built a profile on a dating site called Wingman, where family and friends vouch for singles. The company’s founder learned what was up, and the company paid for a giant billboard in Times Square advertising Molly Davis’s profile. (CNN)
A World War II soldier's letter home to his mother was lost for 76 years; now it's finally been delivered to his widow. (The Guardian)
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