Horror and zombie thrillers like Walking Dead or Planet Terror give people an escape by pitting humans against undead hordes of brain-thirsty monsters, but there are plenty of science fiction movies and shows that hit on some much scarier subjects, particularly the manipulation of the human condition.
So if you’re in the mood for a real fright, check out these five science fiction movies or television series episodes that are eerily accurate in predicting some situations that now seem too close for comfort.
“The Obsolete Man” from The Twilight Zone (1961)
Are you thinking, reading, or saying the wrong things? In this world where books have been banned, you’re about to be cancelled…I mean declared “obsolete,” as this Twilight Zone commentary on the death of human rights starring Burgess Meredith shows us.
Minority Report (2002)
Facial recognition, thanks to the technological advancements of an optical recognition system, sure is time saving. It makes it easy be identified, marketed to, and arrested. It also makes it near impossible to escape the ever-watchful eyes of the powers-that-be in this film based on the story by Philip K. Dick. A world where people are arrested on what they might do in the future is scary enough, but knowing you have nowhere to hide is even worse.
“Nosedive” from Black Mirror
We love our smartphones. Our self-worth is how other people rate us, and we rate everything! We just may be entering a world where these rating will determine whether or not our “social credit” make us a worthy enough human to enjoy privileges and personal freedoms. If we step out of line, we will not just look bad to others, we will look bad to our benevolent world leaders who just want peace and safety. We wouldn’t want to do this, would we? There’s more at stake here than just a bad reputation.
I wish I was only describing this episode of the Netflix series where tech meets The Twilight Zone, but I’m not. Show creators have explained this as a commentary on the need for popularity in the social media world and our addiction to “likes,” but there’s a whole lot of CCP style social credit seeping in here whether Hollywood wants to admit it or not. Here’s the now popular “airport scene.”
By the way, make sure to like my article so I can gain more clout and online cred. Five stars please. *wink*
Demolition Man (1993)
On the surface, this is fun dystopian science fiction action movie, but it is partly inspired by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (Sandra Bullock’s character name, Lenina Huxley, is only the most obvious reference). Thanks to everything “bad” being banned, implanted chips in the body, and an over reliance on technology, we can be controlled, reprogrammed and reeducated into being these nicey-nicey godless, loveless thoughtless drones working together for a clean, violence-free “happy” future. Individuality and personal freedoms are messy, after all.
There are a lot of people who would love to see this type of eerie existence come to pass, thinking they are doing the right thing. Heck, with last year’s toilet paper psycho run, we almost had to learn to use those “three seashells.” We’ve only got 11 years to worry about avoiding the rest of this mess in 2032.
Brave New World (2020)
I’m including this particular version made for Peacock, primarily because it is the most recent, and likely easiest to find and stream.
Aldous Huxley’s predictions to me are in many ways more accurate than George Orwell’s 1984, although Orwell nailed it on that one in several aspects. Orwell was actually one of Huxley’s students at Eton, and that might have made for some great conversations, but I digress. In Huxley’s “perfect happy world,” the nuclear family is bad, individuality and human life are only good as resources for the greater good, and if you start to think too much just listen to what the important leaders say…again and again. “Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth.” The more you say it, the truer it must be.
Not happy about this either? No problem, just take your healthy and legal pot gummies…I mean Soma…and mellow out. (I am aware of the irony; Huxley dabbled in psychedelics and even died with a requested shot of LSD in his body.)
In this world, you’ll find me free on the Savage Reservation, thank you very much.
There have been at least two made for television films of Brave New World out there, that I know of, but buy and read the book first before it is banned.
It would seem when there have been science fiction warnings about the Orwellian worlds of “wrongthink,” and totalitarian dictatorships, Hollywood wouldn’t be too keen to celebrate cancel culture making some unwanted opinions “obsolete.” There are a least some writers who go it right, at least in these cases.
Remember, Serling reminded us at the end of “The Obsolete Man” that no dictatorship can last.
“Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete. A case to be filed under ‘M’ for mankind in The Twilight Zone.”