How this '80s dystopian thriller got something shockingly right in its view of the future.
The more time passes, the more we realize movies are far from perfect at predicting the future.
We haven’t seen anything in the artificial intelligence realm that matches HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.” “Back to the Future Part II” featured a 2015 where fax machines still mattered. “Blade Runner,” set in 2019 Los Angeles, promised flying cars and a dystopian landscape that’s yet to pass.
Thank goodness … but we still have seven months before 2019 arrives.
So Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1987 film “The Running Man” isn’t alone in incorrectly predicting the future.
The State doesn’t control everything we do as it does in Ah-nold’s film, set in 2017. Game shows don’t pit contestants in a life-or-death struggle for ratings, even if those “American Idol” battles get pretty intense. Even the technology revealed in the film, directed by “Starsky & Hutch” alum Paul Michael Glaser, pales compared to the iPhones in our pockets.
“The Running Man” does feature large screen TVs, the kind we now see at sporting arenas nationwide. We don’t seek out our digital media in card catalog-style shelves, though.
The film still gets nails one element. It forecast the fake news era that started … in 2017.
FAST FACT: “The Running Man” earned $38 million during its U.S. theatrical release in 1987.
Schwarzenegger plays Ben Richards, a government employee who refuses to fire on civilians rioting over dwindling food resources. Innocents are gunned down all the same.
State officials doctor footage shot during Ben’s refusal to follow orders. The result? The highly edited clip appears to show Ben firing on the civilians. Voila, the State quashed a rebellion while pinning the blame on an innocent man.
That’s a fascist state two-fer.
Meanwhile, the public thinks Ben, the so-called Butcher of Bakersfield, got what he deserved. Later, Ben appears in the “Running Game” show as prime-time entertainment. Only he doesn’t die as expected. As he tells the show’s twisted host (a brilliant Richard Dawson), “I’ll be ba-ack.”
Today, too many media outlets are doing their own nipping and tucking to preserve and protect their preferred narratives.
Last year, many outlets snipped a Steve Bannon quote in half, changing its meaning 180 degrees.
“The media should keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Bannon said at the time, indicating the press had a profound disconnect with its audience. The New York Times headline used the first part of the quote, later offering the full context.
Not every reporter did, though. CNN’s Jake Tapper puffed out his chest to denounce the edited quote, missing the full meaning in the process. He wasn’t alone.
Other outlets also preferred the abbreviated quote. Why? To feed the narrative that Team Trump wants to silence the media. (Editor’s note: I worked under Bannon during my tenure at Breitbart News)
That was just a drop in the reassembled news bucket. The wave of fake news was in full effect at that point, and it hasn’t slowed a bit.
More recently, major news outlets did something far worse than mangle an advisor’s quote. They connected President Trump’s critique of the savage MS 13 gang with innocent illegal immigrants.
Some media outlets backpedaled following the fake news burst. The damage was already done. Does anyone think this is the last time reporters will twist reality to target Trump?
In “The Running Man,” the government created fake news to retain its power and bolster its narrative. In today’s media world, reporters do the dirty work to damage the Trump administration.
It’s a shame the 1987 actioner’s reality is now part and parcel of the modern news cycle.