[Morgoth discusses four dystopian movies from the 1980s to see which best matches what we are experiencing today.
Which 80’s Dystopia
Are We Living In?
Apr 5, 2021
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Published on Apr 5, 2021
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[Intro music and imagery by Theberton.]
Hello again there folks. So if you’ve followed my work for any length of time you’ll know that I actually love 1980s action movies, and science fiction movies of that era. And I talk about them quite a bit.
And I thought it would be fun to go back and have a look at some of the dystopian movies of the 1980s and see which one got it right. Because what you’ll notice about these movies, especially the ones that I’ve selected, is that the time that they were predicting, the time that they were set in, was around about 2019, 2029, more, or less, where we are now in Western civilization. So what they were doing was predicting what the world would be like in say 30, or 40 years in the future. And we are now in that future.
So I’ve selected a few movies here, that we can look at, with my own opinion on them which one like the worlds that they’re set in. And I will be focusing on the “worlds” here more than that the characters in them, or the storyline, because I want to get into the world building, and which one most resembles the world that we’re in the day.
I mean, I’ve left They Live, and Terminator, out, which may ruffle a few feathers. So I’ve opted for, I left They Live out. Because I think it’s been a little bit overdone. And it’s a little bit dicey for YouTube if you start scratching at that scab! And Terminator I’ve left out, because I just don’t really think it fits into this.
So I’ve opted for Mad Max 2 [1981, released in the United States as The Road Warrior], Bladerunner, of course, the Robocop, and The Running Man.
So there’s four dystopian movies and three of them – Mad Max’s timeline is a little bit confused, it’s not exactly specific – but the other ones are quite specific. Bladerunner’s 2019, Robocop is, I think, it’s about 2030. The Running Man is between 2015 and 2019 according to Wikipedia. So which one got it closest to the mark?
So if we jump in with Mad Max, I think it’s fair to say that Mad Max is the furthest away from where we are in 2021. So, but I want to use it as a kind of framing device to see where I’m going here.
So in the opening monologue to Mad Max 2, Mad Max 1 is actually a 1970s film, just. But in the opening monologue the Mad Max 2 what we find out is that the world, civilization, has collapsed because the resources were running out, and the great powers then went to war with each other over the resources. And then you get into Beyond Thunderdome of 1985, and it’s then the question of nuclear bombs comes up, as well.
But in the Road Warrior in Mad Max 2, it’s more like it’s all about scarcity. So Mad Max in this case, well humanity, but Max, is reduced to scavenging around in what is just a wasteland. It’s complete civilizational collapse! Humanity’s returned to like barbaric, nomad wanderers, killing each other. Max survives on tins of dog food.
And what becomes really crucial is gasoline, to have gas in the cars. Because they need to stay mobile, because to stay alive you need to move, you need to find out where the food is, or where the water is. If you stay still, you’re dead! So in Mad Max it’s a complete world of scarcity, utter civilizational ruin! They’ve gone back to this sort of anarcho-primitivist state of warring tribes, of killing each other over resources, and scavenging like animals.
So this is not in any way where we are where we find ourselves in 2021. In actual fact it’s almost like we’re at the polar opposite of this. In our world everybody’s like fat! And everybody can barely, … I mean, they haven’t even left the houses for the last year! Everything, all the products and the food that you want, is on tap. We’ve entered in this sedentary mode of just being catered to, and just getting to choose from an endless array of products.
So what’s interesting here is to juxtapose that, where Mad Max is the least like what we actually live in, because it’s such an active, and what I mean, [chuckling] what you could call an “outdoorsy life” that he’s got there! I mean, out of the various dystopias here, I’d probably feel at home in the world of Mad Max the most, if I could find a little lake somewhere and not be discovered.
So we can move on and have a look at Robocop.
One of the things that you’ll notice about the dystopias of the 1980s is that they’re dystopian, but not so much in the sense that it’s a savage Police State from some huge government, that’s not really what they’re getting at. And they, especially Robocop, The Running Man, and Bladerunner have this in common.
Bladerunner’s, of course, from the book by Philip K Dick. But what you’ll notice in the 1980s, and the 1980s dystopias, it isn’t like a fascistic Police State that’s doing it. It’s more often than not, and Robocop is definitely an example of it, what they’re really critiquing is Ronald Reagan’s economics, which was just coming at the time. Neo-liberalism coming in at the time as well.
So in the story in Robocop what you have is Omni Consumer Products, which is this giant corporation. And they are planning to – and it’s set in Detroit. Detroit is like a real hellhole! Crime gangs! They didn’t really get it right on demographics. But nevertheless it’s still a criminal kind of dump!
And Omni Consumer Products, this giant corporation, are planning to create a New Detroit which they will own, of course. So you’re going to have a corporation which owns pretty much the city. And what they’re also doing, what’s taking place is the privatization of the police force itself.
So when Murphy dies – because of all the scumbags on the streets – his body then becomes the property of Omni Consumer Products. And so they can do whatever the hell they want with it! Because he gets shot and he is like sort of certified as dead. And then they bring them back to life and reincarnate him as “Robocop”. So he is then like an actual product. And he’s there to police New Detroit and to take out all of the scumbags.
So what’s happened is that the State has outsourced law enforcement to the private sector and the police are now being run, in this case, as a Robocop. He’s like a prototype. And it’s because the mega corp, Omni Consumer Products, has then commodified the police force and fighting crime.
So then you get something else which comes in with Robocop, is this transhuman aspect, and it seems to go together. And this is what it’s kind of like, what we see happening in the world around us today. So the technology comes in and asks what is it really to be human. Like, what does it say about your identity if you have been brought back from the dead, and you’re a robot? Are you still technically a man? And this is sort of the kind of thing that they struggle with.
Another thing that you’ll find with Robocop, which goes along with the sort of critique of neoliberalism, is the ridiculously over-the-top and funny adverts. And all of this goes back. Because people will point out that they were made by kind of Leftists. Well. Yeah, but Paul Verhoeven in this case, he is like that. But you can see these sort of Leftist critiques of neoliberalism and capitalism, they were very sophisticated. And they were original and quite thought-provoking in the 1980s. And the absolute shambles of what we think of as the Left today, the “Woke Left” today. You can see just how far they’ve been absorbed. Like their activism has itself just become part of the very thing they were critiquing in the 1980s.
And it also plays along with this idea, you’ll see that they break down identity, they break down the meaning of things. What is it to be a man? What is it to be a woman? What does it mean to be White? What all of these different categories that we once had are then being broken down. And in a way they were criticizing the sort of the neoliberalism of the 1980s, for this exact process. But I think in terms of having a look at where we are, I think we’re not quite at the Robocop stage yet. I think that’s gonna come in. So I’m gonna say:
“Well, maybe we will put that on the back burner, for now.”
And so when we get The Running Man we see once again it’s this system of oligarchy, where the masses have been reduced, you know, like neo-feudalism, the masses have been reduced to this sort of huge herd of consumers without really what seems to be any kind of political voice whatsoever. It’s also more fascistic. There’s like a paramilitary force all over the place.
But what really at the heart of The Running Man, of course, is that it’s more like a “mediocracy”. So you have this giant TV show. The biggest TV show in the world. And what they do is get dissidents – and they’re politically incorrect – and they get them up onto the TV show before the whole world, as the audience cheers it all on. And then they release them into this sort of huge urban ghetto where they’re hunted down by these celebrity gladiator types. And it’s the way for the system to keep everybody in line and direct the ire of the population towards all of these dissident people.
You also see that the media system, it’s like a mediocracy. It’s the most powerful institution, because it controls the masses, it controls the mob.
And what you then find is that you’ve got to Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, he gets framed. They just make it all up, they just edit together a video to make it look like he’s a mass murderer, when the opposite was true. And then he gets hauled up. And then he has to try and find the underground.
Because it turns out that there is like dissidents who are trying to hack into the communication system so that they can reach the masses and tell them that it’s a system of control. That the media, the television is controlling them, and it’s controlling their behavior. And that they need to wake up.
So this is a very, very strong contender for being how we live today. Because, you know, you’ve literally got like this huge mass of dumb consumers, with a few dissidents trying to get through to them. And then the dissidents, are then sort of outed and put up. The media will then use them, highlight them, and expose them, so that they can then be ridiculed and killed. And the masses, the mob, will find this sort of catharsis in it.
But all of what any of this does is reinforce the structure of the society that they’re in. So The Running Man is like a very, very strong contender for how we live today.
So then we move on to the classic, the great Bladerunner! Which I’ve spoke about quite a lot. So once again in Bladerunner we have a Tyrell Corporation. And it’s almost like it’s moved on from where we were with Robocop.
And now the mega corporation is seemingly just in complete control. And it’s highlighted throughout with these gigantic advertisements for products, for Coca-Cola, and so on. But they’ve gone further than Robocop, because they’ve actually just begun to create their own life.
And so the transhumanism stuff comes really back in here, because the idea is the replicants are more human than the humans themselves – which I spoke about recently on me podcast on Odysee. And the replicants have been bred for slavery just so the capitalist oligarchy system can function more efficiently.
But it’s more than that. There’s like the natural world itself has just been completely erased in all of this. And we get these deep questions about:
“Well, what does it mean to even be human?”
You’ll also notice in Bladerunner, like in Robocop, the State is very weak and almost nowhere to be seen. Again you can see where these kind of thinking Leftists have come from here. I mean, there’s a police force in Bladerunner but it doesn’t really seem to have much power. And it isn’t as if the State has prevented the Tyrell Corporation from genetically modifying human beings and just creating them in test tubes, and everything like that.
So the State again, seems to have no power at all. It’s just a technocratic oligarchy that’s what they’re living under. And in Robocop, what’s interesting is that you can see that transition coming in. But there’s a problem for that in sort of the Robocop one, where we are in the real world, say in Britain today. The fact is the State already does just function on behalf of techno-capital and the money power. But it needs to have the veneer of respect. It needs to seem to be legitimate.
So if you get a situation where, for example, Amazon bought the British police force, the police force was privatized, and bought out by a company like Amazon, then it would effectively mean – as any libertarian can tell you – what the government really just relies on is a monopoly of force. So what it would actually mean would be that you would have Amazon as your government. Because they would own the police force.
And this would then completely dispel the idea that you had any say, that you were living under a democracy, or with your own government who listened to your concerns. By the time you get the Bladerunner this is dispensed with entirely. And they are just living under an oligarchy. But, because we aren’t there yet, we’ve still got that veneer, then, I don’t think we can say it.
And so when I look at the 1980s dystopian movies, I can only really say that the closest that we have, I have to go with Running Man. That’s what I would choose out of these four dystopian movies, Running Man is the closest that we have, because it is a story about how the mass media creates reality for the masses to live in. And this is like the most chronic situation that we have today.
But that’s not where the story ends.
So, just for fun we can line these movies up like this, and go through what I think is an interesting process here.
So we start off where we are now, [chuckling] which is The Running Man, where you’ve got the basically an oligarchic system. But it’s being sort of hidden behind mass media, lying and manipulating to the masses, and then persecuting dissidents. Putting them up and hauling them up before the masses to be ridiculed and then hunted down and killed, for the sake of entertainment. The epitome of bread and circuses! Just keep everybody entertained with these blood sports, and they’re not going to ask too many questions, because they’ve got that catharsis.
Behind the scenes though you move down to Robocop. And you can see that this is just a front for what is really a power grab by techno-capital, who are busy buying up property all over the place, implementing their own control via technology, and also subverting even what it means to be human, and eroding the power of the state!
That process then goes on still further with Bladerunner, where we see complete control by the oligarchs, a complete disconnect with nature and this scrambling of human identity.
How long that will last, is up for grabs. But they do need resources to keep the technocracy up and running, and those resources are going to run out. And when they do run out, that bad boy is going to come down with one hell of a clatter! And you’re going to end up with Mad Max, and the Lord Humungous, in a state of complete and utter ruination!
So it’s very interesting to put it like that. [chuckling] But I hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks for listening folks and have a happy Easter.
[Outro music and imagery by Theberton.]
[Readers: If you see any errors (however minor), or ways to improve things, in the transcript, please let me know in the Comment section. Also please share the link to this transcript, so others can benefit. Thanks.]
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Version 1: Apr 10, 2021 — Published post.