The Future is Where, Old Man?
There is an obsession with the future that all cultures and generations have, which rallies our desires into what kind of a people we want to become. This can be very evidently seen when we look back at the eternal style of the ‘Jet Age’ of the 1960s and the optimism as we entered the ‘digital’ age in the 1980s. The current bunch of humans on this planet earth is no different, as we all look towards a future that is both a world away from the limitations that we have placed ourselves with today, as well as a remembrance of the good times that we have had in the past. ‘Retro-Futurism’ has never been more in vogue, as my adidas classics-wearing thugs and vinyl listening- homies will attest (is this how the youths talk now?). A more important way for me to have a look at how many different ways we see our own future and want it to be is through films, the single-most pervasive element of our digital screens except from advertisements, short videos, short films, music videos, tiktoks, vines, picture essays…films are there also. Two of my favourite views of such a future are the films ‘Her’, by Spike Jonze, and ‘Interstellar’, by Christopher Nolan.
Her is a perennial favourite for all those sensitive souls, who like to sit around waiting for both inspiration and perspiration, which does not strike very often, since for both one has to get out of their chairs once in a while. I jest. I felt many feelings when I saw it, but the most pertinent to me were the way the vision of a near-future was set up by Spike Jonze in a manner which made it both attainable as well as utopian.
The way this film set up its mood was excellent, and I absolutely adored how it looked in front of my eyes. The pastel shades used all over, matching with the décor and the fashion, was so pleasing to my mind that I thought it was a vindication of our generation’s trend to go minimal and let aside all aspersions for showing off what we have got. This is so wonderfully evident in the way the makers have tried to show everyone wearing block colour clothing, and even their accessories, such as their bags and other peripherals, are devoid of any garish colours or logos, showing a vision of a future where we are bereft of the ugliness of branding. I was enamoured.
I’ve talked about how the film made me feel so far, and I’m sure you’ve been waiting eagerly for my political hot take. Well, as I mentioned before, there’s a noticeable class difference and indeed only one class shown in this film (the metro isn’t fooling anyone, Spike). It shows either an optimism of future generations having accepted the climate issues of our world, and working hard to deal with them, as well as a materialistic, minimalistic aesthetic along with fair pay for lower level jobs (Letter-writer for ‘beautiful handwritten letter dot com shouldn’t afford you that house, Theodore); or a deep misunderstanding or ignorance of the general social world of class.
Interstellar, on the other hand, is a vision where humanity has lost the ‘war’ against climate change, and this starts with the christening of it as a war. The earth is losing all of its appeal to us, and we must leave. However, even though it is set in a time that is quite some years ahead of us, we are shown a future where we are burdened to use the same old cars, look the same that we did while watching the film in the present, and have not changed our views a bit. Of course, there are features of the future like the robot tractors and the personal UAVs, but those are soon becoming a reality in our own world, and we might not change at all in the future if we continue to ignore things the same way. Michael Caine’s and John Lithgow’s characters are supposed to be millennials or Gen Z, the age you and I are, and I would be not so hot on waking up in 60 years to have such a bleak future ahead of me.