Hollywood is full of movies making grand predictions about the future. Most of them get it wrong. 2001 thought we’d be sending humans into the solar system, 2012 had the world destroyed by special effects and Back to the Future II‘s 2015 couldn’t be more off the mark (where’s my damn hoverboard? And I don’t mean those exploding segways).
But sometimes the media gets things unnervingly right in some of the places you’d least expect, like…
The Simpsons (President Trump)
When “Bart to the Future” aired back in 2000, it was pretty forgettable; released near the start of The Simpsons‘ backslide into mediocrity (which has actually been going on longer than the proper show at this point), it gained new relevance 16 years later because of one throwaway line:
In an interview, episode writer Dan Greaney calls the President Trump scene…
“…a warning to America […] And that just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane.”
Game of Death (Brandon Lee’s death)
Everybody knows the story of Brandon Lee. While filming superhero movie The Crow, he was shot by a prop gun that had “accidentally” been left with a real bullet in the chamber. Conspiracies around this abound, but if you really want to get paranoid, check out his father Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, filmed in 1972:
In one scene, Lee’s character (an actor himself) is shot while filming the movie-within-a-movie with a real gun. That scene was filmed in 1978 with a stand-in – an effort to cobble something together out of the original footage after Bruce’s own death in ’73. Conspiracy theories about the suspicious deaths of the Lee bloodline still abound, ranging from Triad hitmen to multigenerational Chinese curses.
The Lone Gunmen (9/11 Attacks)
In March 2001, an unremarkable X-Files spin-off about a group of adorably early-internet hackers launched on Fox. It was cancelled after one season, and everybody forgot about it. The events of a few months later would soon change that…
In the aftermath of 9/11, Truthers looked back and picked up on the show’s eerily prescient pilot. The plot centres around a conspiracy to crash a 747 into the World Trade Center, all so the US can cover it up as a terrorist plot and go to war. The show’s creators were so ahead of the curve that they were pushing 9/11 conspiracies before 9/11 even happened.
Demolition Man (Schwarzenegger in Government)
1993’s Demolition Man is a classic. Sly Stallone vs Wesley Snipes trashing the future utopia and wiping their ass with swearing fines; what’s not to love? The film made a number of absurd future predictions: toilet paper replaced by 3 seashells, fines for profanity and fast food franchise wars that left Taco Bell as the victor. But one prediction was on the nose…
Arnold Schwarzenegger may not be President, but he did serve 2 terms as Governor of California. He was elected in 2003, just 10 years after Demolition Man painted politician Schwarzenegger as completely unbelievable. Much like the Simpsons example from earlier, the writers threw out all the crazy predictions of an insane future that they could and accidentally got something right.
Videodrome (the rise of YouTube)
David Cronenberg is the king of body horror and mindfuckery. Videodrome is a difficult film to explain, featuring snuff television, mind control, hallucinations and commentary on the role of TV in the human psyche. James Woods was the star (whose hand later turns into a penis gun), but the most interesting character was Brian O’blivion, a man who seemingly only exists on TV…
“That’s my television name. Soon all of us will have special names, names designed to cause the cathode ray tube to resonate.”
Sound familiar? Although Videodrome was made pre-internet, it perfectly foresaw the rise of YouTube. Now all of us are TV stars and all of us have special “television names”. Cronenberg managed to predict the mass dissemination of video content decades before vlogging became a thing.
What other scenes predicted the future? Let us know your own experience in the comments below!