Stick Shifts, “Tomorrowland,” and “Star Wars”

My dream car is a Honda Civic CRX hatchback with manual transmission. No power steering. No electronic windows (you have to hand roll them up and down. Remember that?). I’m not ashamed. But I realize that my beloved car looks like a dinosaur compared to the futuristic cars they’re pumping out nowadays. Which got me thinking…

Let’s say in a hundred years all of our futuristic predictions come true. Unless they solve world hunger and economic inequality, even in 2115 someone’s going to be flying the “CRX stick shift” version of spacecraft. Right? But how many futuristic movies are clean, polished, and a hundred percent high tech?

Recently I went with my parents to see “Tomorrowland.” Of course in this case Tomorrowland wasn’t actually in the future, but in a separate dimension. Still, their “vision” of a technologically advanced society was white, clean, and jet-pack ridden. Well, except for when young Frank enters it with his dirty, dysfunction jet pack. That would be me. My little hatchback with unpredictable air conditioning would be the dirty, reject jet-pack. I would be the person with the outdated technology, or even the “unsafe,” because it’s cheaper. Which got me thinking…

Isn’t that kind of what the Millennium Falcon is in Star Wars? It’s not exactly the cutting edge of technology in the Empire. Leia calls it a piece of junk and it breaks down about every twenty minutes of the franchise. Kudos to you George Lucas, for not making your futuristic Empire made up completely reliable technology. As a side note I believe Joss Whedon also did a good job of showing the lower end of society in his futuristic series “Firefly.”

Prediction how technology is going to impact/infiltrate society is difficult. For example, some cutting edge technologies never make it down to street level. I recently watched a video from 2010 about “the house of the future.” They claimed that the technology they were showing wouldn’t hit the streets for five years. They had TV screens all throughout the house: on the fridge, on the mirror etc. Someone pointed out in the comments that technology has trended a different direction: we have smaller screens on our smart phones that we just take from room to room.

I salute authors who can portray a realistic vision of how complex technology would integrate into daily life. I have to admit I think I struggle in that area (maybe because I am anything but trendy).


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