Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Future is Here

Posted by: Caitlin Sinead
One of the first scifi movies I remember seeing in a theater is Back to the Future II, when they time travel to 2015. I was just old enough to enjoy it, but way too young to get all the jokes. Still, the whole premise gobbled me up whole and to this day the Back to the Future trilogy is my favorite movie trilogy.

I’ve seen the movies several times, but I remember specifically watching it in 2001 with my brother and realizing that we were closer to the future (2015) than we were the “present” (1985)! My brother and I had another movie objective in 2001, to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, but somehow couldn’t find the time in 365 days. (And I still haven’t found the time 14 years later…I know, shame on me).

Anywho, back to the future. So, as 2015 approached, I got pretty excited. And on January 1 of this year, my husband (who also loves the trilogy, because, well, if he didn’t that might be a deal breaker) and I watched BTTF II. (Note to any fellow diehard fans, don’t worry, we’ll also be watching it on October 21, 2015, obviously!) While it was really fun oohing and awing over what they got right (like large flat screen TVs, voice instruction, and glasses that can perform tasks), and giggling at what they got wrong (like their quaint over-reliance on paper newspapers, flying cars, and hover boards), those observations are actually missing the point.

The thing is, the speculative 2015 in BTTF is less about what it might actually be to live right now than it is a distorted mirror to 1985. I don’t believe the writers were actually trying to predict things. That wasn’t the point. They used the “future” to say things about the American culture they were living in then, one where paper newspapers were still very much in use, the most prominent inventions were cars and TVs, not handheld communication devices.

So, I try to remember that speculative elements can’t just be fun and imaginative (what would the future really be like?), they need to say something in and of themselves (what does our vision of the future say about us now?). Speculative elements, no matter how fantastical, should still shed light on our readers’ current, real world. 

Given this, what do you think a fictional 2045 would look like?

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