The worst predictions of science fiction for the future of our dystopia are still worth it


What happens to dystopia that never happens? Does the inaccuracy of the story in predicting the future make it a kitch, a worthless antique beyond historical curiosity? Is the unrealized world a science fiction equivalent to the doomsday prophet after the doomsday? Or maybe some details are brilliantly wrong, but still take advantage of a broader understanding of how the future will go wrong and what we should do to prevent it from happening. Is there still something collected from the dark vision that suggests?

1972 science fiction movie ZPG: Zero population growth Imagine a world destined to die from overcrowding rather than fire. Set in the early 21st century, the event takes place in a world canceled by population explosions, smog-suffocated skies, and developments that have led to the mass extinction of virtually all animal and plant species. Due to these disasters, the World Federation Council has banned childbirth for 30 years. The WFC enforces its decree rigorously, but reluctantly, and sees it as the only hope for the survival of the planet. Indeed, it may be bad to force citizens to submit to forced abortions after sexual intercourse and to exempt babies from using a dome-shaped “execution room”. -A crime that means the death of both parents and their illegal children. But what else can you do?

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Science fiction has a long history of imagining an overcrowded future.Novels like Robert Bloch This crowded earth And John Brunner’ Stand in Zanzibar Helped to inspire movies from Logan execution Neil Blomkamp’s 2013 movie Elysium.. However, few overcrowded horror films are deeply rooted in a particular time and place. ZPG The film is named after the Zero Population Movement in the 1960s. The movement solved environmental and social problems by stabilizing the population, with disastrous consequences for humankind to follow the path of higher fertility and longer lifespan.The movement’s main text included the 1968 bestsellers Artificial bombWritten by Paul R. Erich, a professor of biology at Stanford University, and his wife Anne H. Ehrlicen (although the latter was not initially trusted). The treatise is simple and scary. Erich felt that the population was growing at a rate of rapid depletion of Earth’s resources, especially food supplies. This is the opening passage:

The battle to feed all humanity is over. In the 1970s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death despite the ongoing crash. This late date cannot prevent a significant increase in global mortality.

It would be scary to read it, as the horrors of the 1970s were just above the horizon.And if you’re wondering what the aftermath of such a catastrophe looks like, just wait a few years and you’ll see it. ZPG, And embrace the vision of a world in which the societies we know no longer exist shortly after the Nixon administration.

for ZPG Characters who want to revisit the old way, but there was always a museum. In one of the movie’s most striking sequences, the married protagonists Carol (Geraldine Chaplin) and Las McNeill (Oliver Reed) visit a museum dedicated to life in the 20th century. There you can simulate the pumping of gas into a car, peek through the glass at an exhibition dedicated to extinct animals such as cats and dogs, and admire the lush greenery of rare plants. (WFC may not have literally I took all the trees and put them in the tree museumHowever, it probably considered Joni Mitchell to be prophetic. )

Close-up of fingers reaching to touch the

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Geraldine Chaplin looks at a mirror that stains and distorts her face in ZPG

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A man in a dark blue jumpsuit is looking at the chunky pine trees of a 20th century museum in ZPG.

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A group of men from a 20th century museum in ZPG tries out a 1970s-style gas pump

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ZPGThe History Museum is designed to not only please and educate visitors. It is told by an invisible guide that draws attention to the overkill and stupidity of the last century, highlighting the “Gallery of Criminals” responsible for the disappointing state of the world, including factories, airlines and the Pope. It is featured. Even fun isn’t that much fun. Russ and Carroll perform a typical 20th century dinner party. This is a gathering where a couple eats real food instead of nutritious paste and eats from a tube labeled with a photo. Food that no longer exists. However, the supper soon develops into a moody soap operatic.

Russ and Carroll have been waiting for a long time to record their museum visits, but that doesn’t satisfy them. Their world is filled with melancholy alternatives to the comfortable life of the 20th century. Those who want children need to make do with a visit to Babyland. There, mechanical babies are served to meet the needs of raising. (Steven Spielberg shades AI artificial intelligence.. “They are all designed to be playful or grumpy!”, A hilarious salesman explains to those who are going to be parents waiting in line. Fake children are also programmed to experience “childhood illnesses of all kinds” and are perfect for keeping moms and dads busy. (Especially because it’s unclear what WFC citizens are doing to make a living.) But like nutritional paste, babies are not a real substitute.

In fact, Carol is so poor that she risks ruin by skipping forced abortions after having sex with Russ. He is cautious when she tells him, but Russ becomes a collusion, hides his wife, and later their children, and does whatever he can to keep them secret and safe with them. Best friends George (Don Gordon) and Edna (Diane Silent), who even enter into increasingly dangerous power-sharing agreements, prefer babies who become greedy over time.

In Copenhagen, American director Michael Campus (today, best known for his next film, Mac), ZPG It plays like a warning estimated from the headlines of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and Erich’s worst predictions. In the years that followed, it proved right to worry about environmental issues, government overkill, and the general population surge, but little about certain things that should be relevant to the modern audience. Also, there were few purchases with movie fans at the time, and box office revenues declined rapidly, accompanied by bad reviews. (“”ZPG: Big Zero for Effort ” Philadelphia Daily News.. )

So what to steal from a relatively ambiguous flop is easily overshadowed. Soylent GreenA more memorable quest for a similar theme was released the following year ZPG?? In fact, there are quite a few.Like George Lucas THX-1138, ZPG It provides a window to the ideas of the era about what dystopia looks like, complete with loose, flattering jumpsuits, fluorescent corridors, and pod-like living spaces. And, sometimes hampered by limited budgets, the film’s ingenious miniatures and distinctive production designs (including those creepy artificial babies) are still like a nightmare vision of infertility and despair. I can see.

ZPG's spooky plastic artificial baby

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A nightmare: the feeling that the government is actually acting inevitably, the feeling that the earth will have no future unless it is dominated by an iron fist. Oblivion is when WFC leaders give up control of even the smallest aspects of their daily lives, rather than enacting terrifying policies to protect themselves from the desire for power or from foreign enemies. Because we are waiting for humanity. The WFC is oppressive, but it may be doing the right thing — the movie doesn’t offer an alternative to its brutality.But ZPGHappy ending does not provide a real escape. It’s a kind of flawed movie that is memorable, despite its nasty touch. (And certainly, sometimes Because Of that. )

As art and artifacts ZPG Its fatalism is valuable, and its atmosphere and constant darkness of performance add value to it. (We don’t hire Oliver Reed to brighten the film.) How miserable our future is, imagining that dystopia, in some cases, acts as Klaxons because of practices that are already underway. Helps you to know. You may be building. The depiction of dystopia, born of inevitability, is also useful — a warning story that past decisions have hunted down humanity in a way that even seems to justify injustice.anywhere ZPG Even if the details of our future are wrong, it is a depiction of the future that we should strive to avoid in the best possible way.

ZPG It’s also worth noting because of its mediocrity — it’s just one by-product of the type of thinking that remains with us in other ways. Erich’s books and theories were ubiquitous in the 1970s. The idea of ​​controlling the population by preventing people from having more children than they need to replace themselves is easy to understand and disseminate. (Don’t worry that Ehrlich also came up with the idea of ​​stringing water supplies with disinfectants to control the population.) Paul Ehrlich has become like a celebrity for some time and often A guest of a talk show Tonight’s show Hosting Johnny Carson, who has appeared on the show dozens of times, Artificial bomb And Subsequent books like Race bomb, It prompted a frank debate about the scientific absurdity of racism.However, Erich also got a lot of attention in the 1979 book. Golden Door: International Immigrants, Mexico, and the United States (Co-authored by Anne Ehrlich and Loy Bilderback), this warns of Mexican immigrants, a new threat to US stability.

Listen to Carson and Erich talking anxiously For immigrants, enjoy a comfortable life, meaning listening to cultural institutions that normalize the idea that the United States is running out of rooms, as Erich calls for a “national debate on the whole issue.” English-speaking citizens who are out will soon be crowded with outsiders Do not speak our language. In a newspaper interview, Paul Ehrlich accused the United States of using the poor Mexican workforce, emphasizing that undocumented immigrants were not taking advantage of government interests.But in Fort Worth in 1979 Star Tribune In his profile, he also warned, “With the growing power of the Chicano population, you see the foundation of the struggle between the Anglo-Americans already in the country and the 20 million Hispanics.” For Erich, environmental protection, overpopulation and immigration issues were intertwined in one big knot until he advised both the Sierra Club and the American Immigration Reform League.

A man under a dark red light surrounded by his reflexes in ZPG

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The group’s name was designed to be abbreviated to the acronym FAIR, but the American Immigration Reform League Designated hatred group Inspired by the idea of ​​John Tanton, a Michigan-based ophthalmologist. Its fine-looking frontline is the connection with groups that support eugenics and “the survival of European-American society and culture requires a majority of European-Americans, and it is clear. It wasn’t always enough to hide the personal warning “I need to”.Tanton died in 2019, but not before he saw his idea Find fertile land under the Trump administration..

Science fiction dead ends can hide seeds in other dark possibilities. Artificial bomb And while that kind raised some legitimate concerns, Erich’s work also stimulated and encouraged hysterical reactions, ZPG inside that. It now looks like a dystopian beginner, inspired by fortune cookie-like accuracy and predictive thinking. But those ideas haven’t disappeared to the point of change. Concerns about overcrowding yesterday can mask prejudiced and dishonest debates, like concerns about border issues today. We ignore dead dystopia at risk. They have a new way to come back to life.