Didn't Science Fiction Teach Us Anything?

I am a nerd. Meaning, in any given social situation, I can effectively converse with confidence about any of the following topics:

  • Most Marvel or DC superheroes and their backstories.
  • The differences between the Blade Runner theatrical release and the Blade Runner Director's cut and which is better.
  • The deeper meanings behind most of the works of Alan Moore.
  • All of the Mad Max movies and the dystopia behind the canon.
  • The best way to watch the Star Wars series on DVD.
  • The absolute badass-ness of the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
  • Why I prefer Kirk over Picard but hold Picard in higher esteem.
  • Why Peter Jackson nailed The Lord of the Rings but butchered The Hobbit.

One of the odd scenarios that circulates in my sci-fi nerd brain is that with every well-written set up in science fiction, there are cautionary lessons for us to learn. The Terminator films, among many others, warn us of the potential dangers in advancing computer technologies to the point that artificial intelligence could possibly become sentient and terminate humanity. This is a meme that fuels the Jurassic Park films, and Ex Machina. It is the central premise behind The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And yet, despite all of the cautionary dystopias and machine-based villains we populate our culture with, we still push forth with Siri and Google Cars.

Unlike the machines in these stories, it seems that humans never learn a goddamn thing from these tales of impending disaster.

Wall*E
Essentially, our consumerist culture and refusal to appropriately deal with our trash and the fact that we are systematically destroying our planet's ecology results in Fat Baby Humans incapable of functioning without floating chairs. 

What have we learned from this? Nothing. We still dispose of tons of trash (most specifically in the ocean), overeat nutritionally suspect foods while sitting on our collective fat asses, and hand over the ecology of the planet to idiots like The Donald and the Koch Brothers. Go to Great America and watch morbidly obese men in scooters motor to rollercoasters while sucking on a 4,000 calorie sugar drink and visions of that demented Pixar future is just around the corner.

Mad Max: Fury Road
The domination of men destroys the world. As much as this film is about the power of women and the dark places people will go survive, it is about how males destroy all that is good in the world and then creates a society of captive women, starving classes and bad, chrome-mouthed acolytes and warriors.

What have we learned from this? Look at Congress. Most CEOs. The military and police forces. We're making progress but too slowly. If the world does end up looking like the Australian desert, it will absolutely be at the hands of men.

Minority Report
Profiling criminals before a crime is committed. Imprisoning people who have done nothing illegal on the predetermined prophecy that they WILL do something illegal. Tom Cruise running from people really fast. Eyeball replacements and robot spiders.

What have we learned from this? Not a goddamn thing. Racial profiling is simply the human version of the PreCrime voodoo of the novel-turned-film. In Pennsylvania, they're already adjusting sentencing to reflect crimes you might commit. As soon as we get three PreCogs in a vat, we'll jump at this as a Republican solution to locking up more black people and immigrants.

Robocop
C'mon. This is obvious. Look at the nation's police forces in riot gear with tanks and you know that if someone came along with a Robocop, we'd go apeshit to have it.

Soylent Green
Real food becomes so scarce that the government starts churning out soylent bars to stave off mass hunger. People get so used to not caring about what is in the food they eat that the green version of soylent turns out to be processed dead humans.

What have we learned from this? Nothing. Not one thing. With processed foods that we don't care to know the ingredients of to the consumption of power bars and protein bars and bars of sugary stuff, cannibalism is the least of our concerns.

Starship Troopers
Overly patriotic propaganda convinces young, beautiful people and Gary Busey's kid to join a fascist military, and Neil Patrick Harris psychically wins over the enemy.

What have we learned from this? That it has already happened. We called it Operation Iraqi Freedom, or by it's more accurate description: the Iraq invasion. And while Muslim terrorists aren't giant alien bugs, you wouldn't know that if you watch FOX News.

Brazil
A bureaucrat makes a mistake on a form, a person is wrongfully killed by the authorities, an HVAC repairman is a wanted criminal for fixing people's air conditioning, facelifts gone amuck, a fascist controlled state, sanctioned torture—what the fuck in this movie hasn't already happened? Made 30 years ago, it looks like it's a documentary of 2015.

What have we learned from this? Absolutely nothing.

I suppose we are doomed to ignore the lessons of our literary and filmic Cassandras and, perhaps, we deserve the fate predicted because we are too stupid or distracted to really see where our actions lead us.