The Detroit City Council hasn’t built a half-man/half-robot to patrol the streets (if there was, I’m sure it would be voiced by Clint Eastwood), we aren’t yet at a Road Warrior level of totally fucked with our fuel supplies, and New York isn’t one big maximum security prison like John Carpenter imagined*.
We also don’t have hoverboards, something promised to us in one of the most overlooked dystopian films of its time, Back to the Future 2.
Back to the Future 2 is unique within the genre, primarily because of an overtly comedic tone. The closest we get to a great dystopian comedy in the 1980s is Gilliam’s Brazil, which is more comfortable performing as farce than comedy. In Back to the Future 2, Marty McFly doesn’t identify the future he encounters as a dystopia; rather, he is distracted by a 2015 filled with high-flying commercialism and
The film accurately predicted a number of technological and sociological changes, such as the rise of ubiquitous cameras, influence of Asian nations over the United States (though this was certainly already on the rise at the time of the film’s release), flat panel television sets mounted on walls, the ability to watch six channels at once, and increased use of plastic surgery. The movie also correctly predicted a future where video games do not need hands (Microsoft Kinect) or at the very least do not need traditional controllers (Wii Remote).
Obviously there’s the stuff we didn’t get as well:
Perhaps the most glaring unfulfilled prediction is the ubiquity of flying cars, which are, at present, nowhere near practicality. This could also be seen as an ironic jab at traditional science fiction. In many works, dating back to the turn of the 20th century, personal flying machines, of one form or another, were said to be available in the near to medium future. The non-existence of flying cars has become nearly idiomatic as an expression of disappointment in the failure of the present to measure up to the glory of past predictions. [Via Wikipedia]
Interestingly, the film underlines the aspects of a technologically advanced future that doesn’t seem all that bright — unless you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, or dying to skitch behind a car on a hoverboard.
In the event that you fall into the latter category, you’ll be happy to know that Matel has announced pre-orders of really tiny hoverboards. Even though they don’t technically hover, at least you are that much closer to fulfilling the dream of 2015. Now all you need is a pair of Marty’s Nikes, and you’re totally set.