A few weeks back, a meme start floating around the interwebs that the 1970s movie Zardoz was set in 2019. For those who don’t remember this movie or have blocked it from your memory, this was one of Sean Connery’s first post James Bond movies. Instead of looking uber cool and debonair, he runs around in red underwear. We would link to it, but trust us, you don’t want that visual.
One small piece of Fake News. Zardoz was not set in 2019. Not sure why someone thought a meme stating it would be funny, but they created it anyway. It was likely because of Connery’s outfit. Don’t google it. However, there were three classic 1980s movies that were all set in 2019 that got us wondering about how the people of the Reagan era thought we would end up in the then not-to-distant future.
- Blade Runner: This Ridley Scott masterpiece starred Harrison Ford, who was coming off the rocket sled on wheels blockbusters that were Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Empire Strikes Back. Scott, of course, was the genius of Alien. What could go wrong? Well, audiences didn’t warm all that well to the story of android-like humans trying to live their lives. The movie was a strange, muddy mess, but it became a cult classic. Released in 1982, on the surface, Blade Runner looks nothing like the world we live in now. There are no flying cars, replicants, flying cars, space travel, flying cars, a cool new hybrid form of English, and flying cars. Did we mention flying cars? We want a flying car. However, there were some things that if you look closely, were pretty accurate: Google can easily be seen as a stand-in for the Tyrell Corporation; video screens and advertising are everywhere; massive sprawl and giant buildings. Still, no flying cars.
- Running Man: Technically, the film starts in 2017, but the majority of it occurs in 2019 when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Ben Richards escapes from a jail for a crime he didn’t commit; gets recaptured and then goes on a popular television show where he promptly flips the script by defeating the bad guys, getting the girl and saving the world. Ok, not sure about the saving the world part because all he did was kill the bad guy host of a television show. There is still a lot of work to be done at the end in order to repair society. At times, Running Man feels eerily pre-cognicient: Realty television run amok, ultra-cartoon-like violence, and the American public’s seemingly unabated willingness to believe anything that matches its worldview despite glaring evidence to the contrary. What it got wrong: Well, we aren’t killing people on network television. Yet. And the fashions in the show, thankfully, are not the same.
- Akira: This classic came out in 1988 and changed animation styles as we know it. Set in a grim Tokyo that is preparing for the Olympics. How grim? Well, in the movie, the Japanese government nuked its own capital (or maybe not) that led to World War III. What it got right? Well, it’s an animated manga filled with laser rifles, people with psychic abilities and hyperfast motorcycles. So, everything?
Anyway, why are we telling this today? Yes, it is pretty cool that three 1980s classics share a same year, and there is likely a fanfic somewhere that has them existing in the same universe. But it’s because, just like 1980s films, public relations can predict future outcomes and make smart assumptions. Yet we can’t see that far down the road. Or at flying cars.