Movies take us back to the fatalistic future

03/25/2012 8:28 AM

08/08/2014 10:09 AM

Why are we so preoccupied with a doomed future in movies? Take “The Hunger Games,” for example (which opened Friday).

In the film, based on the book by Suzanne Collins, kids are picked at random and forced to hunt down and kill their opponents, all broadcast on live television. It’s kind of like “Survivor,” only you get voted off in a very different way.

But the unthinkable things we predict will happen in our future don’t stop there. According to the movies, these things will all happen:

•  We’ll eat each other, either knowing it — as in “The Road,” where starvation leads to cannibalism – or not – as in “Soylent Green,” where humans are chopped, baked and shaped into little wafers, kind of like tasty snack crackers.
•  We’ll only live to age 30, as in “Logan’s Run,” where an imbedded time clock in our hands will signal when our time is up. We can gracefully seek life renewal by being executed or go on the lam, such as did the titular Logan (played by Michael York).
•  We’ll be able to stop crimes before they happen, as in “Minority Report,” where Tom Cruise plays a cop charged with stopping said crimes. But this will be based on psychic power, and well, we all know how accurate our horoscopes are.
•  We’ll be second banana to machines, as in “The Terminator.”
•  We’ll be second banana to apes, as in the “Planet of the Apes” films.
•  We’ll be second banana to bugs, as in “Starship Troopers.”
•  We’ll live in an alternate world that only exists in our minds, as in “The Matrix.” And Keanu Reeves will be the smartest person alive.
•  We’ll not be able to make any more babies, as in “Children of Men.”
•  We’ll have to fight off zombies, as in “28 Days Later.”
•  And, of course, we’ll be forced to live under scrutiny and totalitarianism, as in “1984.”

There are lots of other futuristic movies that predict other horrible things for us. But “The Hunger Games” got me thinking about all of it.

Do we make these movies because we think humankind is doomed?

Maybe, instead, we want to teach ourselves to appreciate what we have now – freedom, free thought, and the ability to buy fresh produce.

Why don’t we make movies that show a nice, happy, sunny future? One with total bliss, where disease no longer exists, and peace and harmony prevail?

But that won’t sell tickets at the box office. No, we’d rather watch civilization go down in flames.

I’m as guilty as the next person. But perhaps watching these movies somehow comforts us, knowing mankind couldn’t possibly suffer the same horrible, unthinkable fate.

Even if it does, it’ll only happen in the future.

About Movie Maniac

The Eagle's Rod Pocowatchit offers his musings on the screen scene.

Reach Rod at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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