Media Of Futures Past

In 2010 there will be no universally-watched media entity in the US that can influence everything citizens do. No, I’m not referring to Oprah’s recent decision to end her show. I’m saying that my favorite films and other media of the 1980s got it wrong!
Throughout the Eighties and into the Nineties, films – particularly in the action genre – portrayed life 25 or so years in the future (that would be NOW) as dystopian societies where a single media outlet controlled everything. Often times, it controlled the government and military.

The All-Powerful ICS Network's Top Show: The Running Man

My favorite example is The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cue the Don LaFontaine deep voice-over: In a world where Arnold is accused of crime he didn’t commit, he must play a deadly game live on the world’s most popular TV game show hosted by the evil and scene-stealing Killian (Richard Dawson). It’s a great view of an oppressed society obsessed with media. We see criminals executed live on TV for big ratings and gems like “court-appointed publicity agents”. I love that last part!

These films were supposed to take place in the future but sure still looked like the 80s as far as synthesizer music, clothes, and smoking habits.


Apple's 1984 Superbowl Ad
Arnold Watches The Only News in Total Recall
The State-Run Media Is Called "The Mouth" In the 1982 Comics and 2005 Film V For Vendetta
The Core of T2's "Skynet" Which Gained Sentience Shortly After Going Online
Jonathan Pryce As A Media Mogul Bond Villian In Tomorrow Never Dies








Fast forward to the present or our past’s future, and we have moved in the opposite direction! Media today has been completely fragmented and splintered into millions of TV channels, online sites, blogs, audio programs, and more. Today’s citizen journalist has the same opportunity to reach an audience as “Killian” did in The Running Man. Better yet, that citizen does more than just broadcast to an audience; he can actually engage with the consumer.

Let’s not be too hard on the screen writers of the 70s and 80s; the Cold War and the rise of certain media outlets along with the distrust of big government would be hard themes not to tackle. We would not have paid to see a movie about the future with someone updating their Facebook page.

2 thoughts on “Media Of Futures Past

  1. Hi Jack – good observations here.

    You made me think of Max Headroom – in which the cyber personality of Edison Carter (Matt Frewer) battles the nefarious Network 23 – with the help of pirate station Blank Reg and a geek squad.

    Given what you’ve pointed out about the internet, blogs, tweets, social media, etc etc – it sure looks like Blank Reg won the day.

    Be Seeing You,
    Mike Olson

  2. Hey Mike!

    Yes, Max Headroom may have started the revolution!

    As an added bonus, I now have the Max Headroom Christmas song from an over-played MTV video circa 1987 stuck in my head. “Mer-Mer-Merry Christmas”!

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