Fires, floods, and famine: All the dystopian events predicted by movies
Have you been keeping up with the utterly savage third season of The Handmaid’s Tale? Have you even been able to? S3 has been relentless with its constant misery and misfortune and watching it has felt like an act of masochism rather than a form of entertainment – albeit one with a strong political subtext.
Early on in season two, there was an episode in which June (Elisabeth Moss) finds the shocking remnants of a mass execution in the old offices of The Boston Globe. It’s a scene that’s made even more difficult to stomach now than when it originally aired, since five journalists were gunned down at Maryland’s The Capital Gazette in a targeted attack.
As Salon political writer Amanda Marcotte suggested in a tweet: “It’s absolutely surreal that two of the most affecting scenes, shot months ago, in The Handmaid’s Tale are a woman sobbing as her daughter cries for her while being torn away, and an empty newsroom stained with blood from massacred journalists.”
It isn’t the first time violent events have been seemingly prophesied in films ahead of a real-life event. Here are six eerie dystopian prophecies from movies that came true or feel horrifically plausible nowadays.
Water owned by a corporation: Tank Girl (1995)
The world was given its first terrifying glimpse at the potential for a large corporation to privatize the world’s water supply in 2005 in a video where Nestlé Chairman and former CEO Peter Brabeck made some concerning remarks about water.
In the video (which the company has since backtracked wildly on, suggesting the comments were taken “out of context”), Brabeck asserts that it’s “extreme” to call water a human right and that it should be treated as a product to be valued and distributed by the free market.
In the 1995 cult comic-book adaptation Tank Girl, we see an oppressive corporation called Water & Power (led by a scenery-chewing Malcolm McDowell) making water into a luxury product that only it can control. Thankfully Nestlé hasn’t reached that same level, but hell – just give those old boys time.
An entire existence will be lived out on television: The Truman Show (1998)
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Laura Linney (Ozark) recalled that herself and her co-stars “would laugh about how unrealistic” a film revolving around a man (Jim Carrey) whose reality is used as entertainment seemed. “We couldn’t quite believe that someone would want to tape themselves, so that people could tune in and watch what was considered at the time to be mundane, and see that as entertainment.”
In this era of The Real Housewives, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and YouTube channels documenting everyday lives, The Truman Show is no longer quite as preposterous. The world has gone beyond the dark foreboding of The Truman Show to create an entire industry where everyday realities are made conspicuously unreal before a camera.
Personalized advertising: Minority Report (2002)
We all cringed in horror when we saw Steven Spielberg (Ready Player One) showcasing a version of the future in which advertisements are targeted to your specific identity, personality, and lifestyle. Now we can’t even consider doing an innocent search for edible underwear or what that weird spot on the top of our ass is without being inundated with related adverts on just about every webpage and social media platform possible.
Cyberdyne, Skynet, and battlefield robots: Terminator 2 (1991)
Not only is there an actual Japanese robotics company called Cyberdyne (made up of the smart dudes who basically bring about the end times in the Terminator films), but we now know there’s a legitimate program also called Skynet – though it’s a troubling NSA surveillance program as opposed to a troubling artificial intelligence one.
If you want a terrifying update on companies that are developing real-world equivalents to the technology and programs seen in the Terminator movies, you need look no further than how AI is currently being developed for military applications and how various companies are looking to ace the Turing Test with their own robotics. The end is nigh, people!
Mass government surveillance: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
Michael Radford’s adaptation of George Orwell’s 1949 foreboding novel brings the author’s prediction of a future of mass government surveillance where “Big Brother is watching you” to the screen. A world where telescreens, audio channels, and secret informants keep an eye on the general populace isn’t too far from our current reality, with CCTV, the NSA, and internet data-mining keeping us under watch (and under control) at all times.
The film also features its own version of “fake news” with a government employee (John Hurt) tasked with rewriting history to paint the leaders of his country in a more charitable light.
Batman v Superman: I Am Legend (2007)
The post-apocalyptic movie starring Will Smith (Bright) is guilty of predicting perhaps the scariest thing of all on this list – Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Okay, we’re being hyperbolic about it, but the movie was still a stinker of world-ending proportions and the eerie prediction in I Am Legend is a weird one.
The I Am Legend poster even closely resembles the marketing materials for Snyder’s own take on the idea, which likely just says more about how generic the 2016 DC movie was.