Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
I think it was while watching Independence Day in early July that I remembered this Leo Tolstoy quote, with a twist. (I also wondered if anyone has done a survey of the aesthetics of spaceships across movies and common tropes across good / bad lines.)
Utopias are all alike; every dystopia is dystopic in its own way.
The LA (I think?) wasteland scene made me think set designers might have more fun designing dystopias. I then ran across this quote and it brought it back to my mind.
As I was surveying the media landscape, looking at what's out there, everything—and I say this not as an anthropologist or a social scientist, but as a father—that I was seeing on TV or reading in the young adult section that had to do with the future, especially on the fiction side and even on the non-fiction side, was dystopian. It was all about the end of the world....I was a pole vaulter. I never thought to myself—while I was lying on my back, running through my steps, running into the box to vault—what does it look like for me to miss? That's not what you visualize. You visualize what does it look like to stick it and do the jump.
Dystopias are easy to imagine, we just have to amplify what we see as the worst trends and traits of humanity in our current moment, push out the timeline, and write down what we already fear is going to happen.
Utopias require optimism and hope, which generally get discarded in a vain attempt at being “a realist”. But is usually more in line with being “a nihilistic Twitter spouter”.
I’ve realized a new reason why pessimism sounds smart: optimism often requires believing in unknown, unspecified future breakthroughs—which seems fanciful and naive. If you very soberly, wisely, prudently stick to the known and the proven, you will necessarily be pessimistic.
Do our media reflect our times or do our times reflect our media?