When entertaining the possibility of proposing an authentic view of the future, one can’t help but first ponder the most plausible shape of global politics in direct response to its controversial condition today. Sure, it is only natural to assume time will usher in advanced technological discoveries and great human achievements, but the potential for these discoveries will be all for not, if the people for whom they are developed have no nation on which to stand. If human extinction as the result of atomic war or a meteor is in destiny of our species, than the future one contemplates would be one in which humans are no longer a factor.
The future I envision is one in which the United Nations has more legislative influence over the globe. I also envision a world where global warming has taken its toll and stem cell research has led to rampant cloning and gene splicing in countries the least economically stable. While I do believe the world wide web will bring the people closer to a form of global omniscience, it would be naive to assume that even a global government wouldn’t take part in misinforming its constituents in favor of a capitalist agenda.
In fact, I think this would become even more likely with the expansion of media technology, globalization and the newly evolved importance of the United Nations. I think the human desire for absolute power over the world will only lead to corruption and the inevitable condemnation of the human race. Ironically enough, this dark outlook of the future can be found in the most popular science-fiction themes, as well as within the contemporary relationship between media and national governments. The science fiction genre, as proclaimed by Joan Russ, is one that sets a devout faith in human rational and scientific law (2006).
This is often done to the detriment of society considering that the bulk of the genre focuses on the potential disastrous possibilities of scientific advancement, rather than the benefits. No films more blatantly prove this than Blade Runner and The Terminator. They both a have a similarly dark outlook on life, as well as an authentic way of presenting it. The films play on the fears of their audiences, and specifically the fear that are most probable at coming to fruition. By exaggerating the current conditions of society, these films maintain a timeless quality that is ever prevalent.
They also position human nature against itself. A very eerie aspect of Blade Runner is its depiction of the media and television. Television is a hegemonic part of the lives of the citizens populating this future world. Television screens dominate the city, and this is most prevalent when the camera pans up for a God’s eye view and it is revealed that these glowing television sets overlook the citizens, almost like eyes. This has an even more significant influence on the audience when they realize it is a screen through which they are witnessing this complex image themselves.
It is this aspect of Blade Runner that makes it a play on the visual senses. The film is definitely not recommended for anyone prone to epileptic seizures. The creepiest part of the film’s take on the nature of television, is that it is not too far from the state of the media when the film was released. This applies even more today, with the state of reality television, and the global capacity of the internet. The film also has a very dark depiction of the future, which it has in common with The Terminator, which depicts the condemnation of the human race by the technology they developed.
In The Terminator, like Blade Runner, the bleak future is a result of the combination of advanced technology with the government’s need for industrial growth. No science-fiction novel more intuitively predicts the future as a result of these factors than A Brave New World. In the novel, in response to the industrial revolution during the 1930’s Aldous Huxley emphasizes the dominant influence the Ford Corporation had on the American economy. He does this with the first few lines of the novel by pronouncing in the year of our Ford 632, which would be 2540AD in our time. Huxley alienates his characters from the regular aspects of society.
Social norms like marriage and competition are no longer a part of the human culture, due to this excessively industrialized society reliant on technology. The people are no different from the products they manufacture in the sense that they are all genetically pre-constructed to perform tasks based on their class system. These are classes which the citizens are genetically and psychologically assigned to adopt. Each class has its function, and each member of the society is no different from the parts of a machine manufacturing a product, each member of the society serves their purpose, and the purpose is the production of new goods.
All individuality is sucked out of this culture for the sole purpose of productivity. On top of this, the citizens are constantly motivated to buy new and upcoming consumer products. The prime example of this can be seen in the novel when Mustapha Mond explains to John that part of the reason why Shakespeare is outlawed is because it is old and they want to encourage their citizens to continuously spend currency on new products to nourish the economy. This idea of life for the purpose of serving industrialization and capitalism can be seen implemented by government and the media in daily life.
Globalization of the economy and the spread of electronic communication have eroded the authority of the traditional nation-state (module 4). The expansion of globalization has resulted in the dominance of global popular culture in dictating economic trends and the will of the people as opposed to being confined by a centralized national culture. Popular culture is the most dynamic driving force behind the human interpretation of society. Through it, people develop social expectations and then project those expectations on to others.
In western society, one of the more ironic factors is the source of popular culture. French Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu argued that public opinion doesn’t exist, and that it is just a farce formulated by the economically elite of society to further the long lasting capitalist hold they have on the workings of western civilization (1987). He credits popular culture as being a product of the financially superior, which he refers to as cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1987).
In his theory these heads of capitalism dictate popular culture to mold people into more efficient valuable consumers. This trend in media is the core reason why many individuals of the twentieth century have come to feel more alienated from society than in previous centuries (module 6). Unlike Huxley’s interpretation of the future where industrialization leads to the humanization of the modern world, Bourdieu argues that today it can be seen happening through the expansion of globalization and a more service invested economy.
This can also bee seen in module 4 when the author states, The decline of industrialism and the move to a service economy has created social, economic, and political changes that will continue to challenge individuals into the twenty-first century (module 4). A present example of Bourdieu’s theory in use can be seen in the use of censorship in the media in Egypt and the Arab world. Historically, governments have set the media agenda; radio and television have served as a means to promote their political, religious, cultural, and economic programs and to filter what receivers hear and see (Kamalipour & Mowlana, 1994).
This is a popular concept in many different sociological takes of the conspired relationship between the government and the media. Ali Abu Shadi is the chairman of the central Censorship Department in Egypt. In October of 2005, he gave a speech on the Freedom of musical expression in Beirut. In the speech, he points out that censorship has created a lack of Freedom in the Egyptian media which he feels should always be countered by artistic outlets. In Egypt, radio and television are only used to promote the political ideals of the President in power, as well as to portray the image of authentic democratic elections.
The corrupt relationship between media and government in Egypt is very similar to that in science-fiction books like A Brave New World and 1984, as well as films like Blade Runner. The Egyptian relationship between government and Media can also be used as a window into what could potentially be the future of global media with the expansion of globalization and the absolute power of the United Nations. In sum, the future like the present will rely on the freedom of the people and their ability to dictate how the government controls their lives.
This depends widely on expansions in industrialization and globalization. As it has become most apparent in many parts of western culture, religious factions that claim to have spiritual agendas have more invested interests in monetary gains, proving that not even the church is free from this worship of capitalism. Very often those lucky few individuals with the most buying power are idolized by the public in the media, but in truth the media and the government are the genuine elitists.
The future, however bleak it may be, lies in this in this inherent hold both the government and the media have on the people of the world. This is a hold that has grown more powerful overtime with media and economic expansion and will only become even more centralized as the pinnacle power shifts to the United Nations, like I previously predicted. As the frequency with which the global public receives its information grows more intense and contradictory, it will only lead to more governmental control and alienation of the human citizen.
It is very ironic that one’s education basically determines how susceptible their mind is to being molded by media propaganda, and the majority of the population leaves the responsibility of their education in the hands of their government. This is a viscous cycle that can only result in two ends, the dehumanization of the world, or apocalyptic revolution at the hands of the people, and that is the future.
Bourdieu, Pierre. (1984) Distinction, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Fiske, John (1987) Television Culture, London: Methuen. Huxley, A. , (1989). Brave New World. San Bernadino: The Borgo Press. Kamalipour, Y. , & Mowlana, H. (1994). Mass media and the Middle East: A comprehensive. Handbook, p. 1-352, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Mintz, Lawrence E. (1985) American Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1, Special Issue: American Humor. Pp. 71-80 Russ, Joanna. (2006, December 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:42, August 16, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Joanna_Russ&oldid=93599121