My name is Evan Webster Wiley, a screenwriter, film producer and director. I focus on important values in film and cinema, trying to emphasizing the "why" behind what we do.
Junior Contributor I
The Importance of Optimism in Future-Set Movies and TV
"Although it was on the air for only one season, The Jetsons remains our most popular point of reference when discussing the future." (Matt Novak, smithsonianmag.com)
Since The Jetsons "promised" us flying cars more than 50 years ago, we continue to refer back to the show as one of the only mainstream depictions of a future with a positive outcome. Granted, cinema in the 60s still included the larger-than-life conflicts (literally) with movies like Mothra vs. Godzilla, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes, it seemed like the depiction of the Jetsons is the only piece that prevailed in a technologically relevant way. But to pose the question of why The Jetsons has continued to be arguably one of the most influential "science fantasy" cartoon depictions is to pose the question of whether optimistic depictions of future shape the way we innovate and live our lives.
The day I’m writing this is a date that the 1989 film, Back to the Future, predicted the sorts of technological advancements we will have made, and they were relatively close. A CNN article, "What did ‘Back to the Future II’ get right?" by Todd Leopold illuminates what was and wasn’t correct about the film’s predictions ((link)
However, around the same time as Back to the Future, we were beginning to see movies like Mad Max, depicting a sort of "post-apocalyptic" future, along with movies like The Terminator, The Matrix and Blade Runner depicting a sort of "dystopian" future. In a different way, these were becoming more common and more mainstream, possibly due to the advent of affordable visual effects and digital imaging. Regardless, it seems that the rising generations are growing up with zombies, apocalypses, and a fear of artificial intelligence or government totalitarianism. Maybe it didn’t help that The Terminator came out the year that George Orwell warned the world could be approaching a totalitarian system of constant war and surveillance.
In summation, assuming, for now, that the influence this media has can determine our course of progression and innovation as a world, than should the media industries be sharing a sort of responsibility in reenacting optimistic outcomes in future-set movies and TV?