Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Prophetic Nature of Films

Am I alone in seeing parrells between Hurricane Sandy and the movie The Day After Tomorrow? Recent images of sea water coursing though lower Manhattan compare at least superficially with the scene in the film when a massive wave surges onto the New York island as three storm systems collide over the east coast of North America.

The ability of script writers to imagine future scenarios is, of course, central to their craft. I'm interested, however, in the extent to which such imaginative work draws upon the possibility of scenarios which are both contingently possible while also being sufficiently unusual to fulfil their role as vehicles for fantasy and escapism.

Other examples include

  • the election of a black President in episode one of TV series 24, seven years before Barack Obama's successful election campaign
  • the creation of an all-encompassing television environment in The Truman Show, in anticipation of the Big Brother TV phenomenon
  • two aspects of the film Minority Report seem relevant: one is the use of targeted individualised advertising (in the mall scene) which anticipates the current fusion of data mining with mobile technology to focus personal product promotion; the second is the concept of pre-crime, which perhaps highlights some of the ethical difficulties with entrapment-based models of crime surveillance and prevention in an increasingly autocratic age.
  • the prediction of artificial intelligence in the form of the HAL 9000 super-computer in the 1968 science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • the presence of hand-held tablets and computers in Star Trek episodes as early as the 1960s

Cover of "The Truman Show [Blu-ray]"

It was, apparently, in recognition, of the ability of some creative individuals to "see" possible future scenarios that the CIA toyed with the idea of forming collaborative working relationships with Hollywood in an attempt to draw on a different strand of intelligence to complement their more traditional information-gathering techniques. This experiment, however, did not survive the overhaul of the CIA following 9-11.

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