Art imitates, or predates, reality. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, in 2013, starred in the title movie about a future society where the privileged few held all the cards while the rest were subjected to a third rate existence. With reports from Davos of the moneyed class buying getaways in New Zealand and other rather remote locations to escape the anticipated turmoil of their own making, the movie certainly hit a contemporary chord. In fact, it resonated, eerily and quite strongly, with current developments.
Elysium – the abode of the blessed after death in mythology, a place we dream of reaching, so blessed that we would even forfeit our dream to grant a loved one the chance to reach it. Would that our society still valued such sacrifice or, even yet, still held hope for such a reality for ourselves or others. Day by day, it seems that such a place is ever foreign to our current reality and hope of attainment. Our reality grows ever closer to that of the outcasts from Elysium, with economic inequality reaching new heights, the hope for a better future ever dimmed, and technology, instead of bringing leisure in its best sense, where we have opportunity for self improvement, instead bringing ever less security and hope for attaining a living wage.
Hollywood serves a useful purpose, if we think about the questions its art poses. To what degree should we let our humanity be replaced by technology? What societal trends can we see which might lead to a dystopian future? What are we wiling to sacrifice in order to achieve a better future? How close are we to having to make a decision? I propose that, once that possible future has been envisioned, either by Hollywood or in literary works, that future’s portents are near, more so in today’s rapidly developing world, and, if we wish to change our course, imminent action is needed.