Since the dawn of the 20th century and the spread of existential thinking, every generation has fretted about being at the end of history and witnessing the hysterical breakdown of the social and political order. Some factions still believe that they will be forced to let go of the world they recognize, from the post-war era of nuclear fear to the sweet summers of counterculture to the turn of the millennium, making way for a scary, confusing new one.
I would say that the present generation of people living on Earth — who have had to contend with a global pandemic in the last year, inept fascist takeover attempts, the fragmentation and fragmentation of the world economy, and the burning sky in certain regions — have a more valid claim to this sentiment than any previous one. Apocalypse now-ish: What will we learn from 2020-set films? Although the last days of the year and their pledge of a vaccine rollout carried a flavor of optimism, a sour dystopian aftertaste was the dominant tone of 2020. Last year, the depression, exhaustion, anger, and surreal delirium that marked the past 12 months were thoroughly expressed in writing; we are looking to the future today. Even if the destructive maximalism of a Roland Emmerich movie has taken on real life, we can still turn to movies set in 2021 to see what could await us imagined by previous generations.
And on the basis of those dreams, whether dystopian or utopian, we may be able to plan for a year that couldn’t be worse than this.
Read on for a rundown of cinematic fortune-telling about the possible risks that await us in the days ahead: Carnage The BBC mockumentary by Simon Amstell sets out a full chronology from the Second World War to 2067, an ambitious account detailing how tomorrow’s United Kingdom will renounce meat and follow a strictly vegan lifestyle. In this timeline, the year 2021 plays an important part, as it is the moment when a super swine flu strikes the UK and takes a large number of lives.
Livestock numbers decrease, pork prices skyrocket, and what they will eat starts with a “era of confusion” for the public.
Food shortages stand out as an especially worrying sign of geopolitical instability and viral unpreparedness at a time when the Daily Mail expects us to give up pizza and eat toast instead as a show of nationalist unity. In the predictions of Amstell, all turns out well as Britons adopt veganism and learn to live with animals harmoniously (endowed with the power of language, in the soothing tones of Joanna Lumley). A life without the promise of a dripping-melting cheeseburger, however, is still a fate worse than death for many. Johnny MnemonicIn 1995, cult oddball Robert Longo predicted that the Internet would become too vast and interactive to be good for humanity, and that it would inevitably become so integral to our everyday lives that our psychology would begin to eat away. He also expected that corporate dominance would be centralized into a handful of megacorporations whose strength would be concentrated in Asian markets. The only thing that this cyberpunk seer saw wrong was that when the world went to hell, we would all look nice, equipping the human Flash Drive of Keanu Reeves and the pharmaceutical mercenaries chasing him with immaculate, slimming suits.
Aesthetics aside – virtual styles would leave behind Longo’s E-clunky, Dimension’s primitive CGI – his notion of an all-consuming online existence was spot-on that supplants our own real-life experiences.
Johnny’s neural implants encoding his consciousness are beginning to seem redundant as younger generations struggle to blur the lines between their true self and their outwardly portrayed alter egos on social media.
The venerable Hammer Film Productions reigned supreme in the 1950s with their vividly sinister revivals of such frightening classics as Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Mummy. A few years on Twitter can just as easily tear holes in your brain. Moon Zero Two
In the decade that followed, though, theirs was theirs.