Locus Focus: Take Thirty-Eight!
Welcome to "Worlds of Tomorrow": The Movie Edition!
Now that "Future Settings" month is coming to a close, I have a few thoughts on my blogging experience. I chose this theme for January, the first month of the year, to reflect the general spirit of looking forward. And despite the fact that most future-set novels (and movies!) feature dystopian worlds, I was confident that I'd be able to come up with four positive projections of tomorrow.
If you've been paying attention, you'll know that was an Epic Fail--if only because I opened the month with a ruined and desolate Palace of Green Porcelain, a kind of mausoleum for Victorian civilisation. The next week, I nearly balanced it with the libertarian utopia that is the North American Confederacy--and probably would have, had this future world not come with a dystopian twin. (Parallel universes, you know?) And if I was still going for two out of three, I shot myself in the foot with Mr. Charrington's Shop, a place where history--and human nature--get to die an unnatural death. Happy futures seem kind of pointless in fiction.
And that is why I started this month intending to write about the colourful, family-friendly future in the animated film Meet the Robinsons . . . but ended up going full dystopia again today . . .
"Old Detroit has a cancer. That cancer is crime. And it must be cut out, before we employ the 2 million workers that will breathe life into this city . . ."
I know little of what the real Detroit was like in 1987--not enough to say whether this film's projection of the same city in 2015 as an super-industrialised, over-commercialized, crime-ridden city about to be taken over by a mega-corporation hit home or went wide. But I'm fascinated by how much present-day Detroit already seems like a dystopia, albeit a very different one from what we see in this film. The movie's stark, sharp-edged future has me by one arm and the bleakness of its real-world counterpart has me by the other, and I'm going forward hoping that my hunches aren't totally off base.
Did you know that Detroit is well known for its architecture? As far as I can tell, none of its more famous landmarks can be seen in this movie--due partly to the fact that it was filmed in a whole other city. (LOL!) But remember that this Detroit is also in a whole other world, where it is not barbaric to take the body of a dead man and use it to build a cyborg meant to render those who are merely human obsolete. You can't expect beautiful historic buildings to have escaped demolition.
Indeed, the whole city itself is about to get the "robo" treatment and be rebuilt from the ground up. A huge corporation has plans to privatise the entire metropolis, renaming it Delta City. And nobody is really batting an eyelash. They know Old Detroit is on its last legs. And they're willing to have them amputated as long as they get some state-of-the-art new limbs in exchange.
RoboCop is a violent, gory, compulsively watchable satire of a world grown drunk on the fat of industrialisation (which is a mixed metaphor I know I will rue someday). I doubt that anyone involved in its making could have guessed that over twenty years later, the real Detroit would find itself in the middle of a dystopian nightmare, threatened by de-industrialisation. There is more than one kind of urban wasteland--and more than one kind of cancer that can lay a city low.
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This Week's Other Locus:
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Laboratory @ Birdie's Nest
Image Source: RoboCop poster