I can’t recall where I first read it, but I remember reading an article about how storytellers shape the future. The example they gave always made me remember the article, and it has really stuck with me over the years, as you can tell. Basically, the example said that when we stop and envision what the future will look like, all we’re doing is drawing on the images that we’ve seen or read about over the years. The image of flying cars hovering over a sleek modern city with rounded edges and seemingly impossible technology pulsing like the heart beat of a suburban A.I. can be summed up as a collaboration of pop culture references ranging from THE JETSONS to BACK TO THE FUTURE.
One of the most exciting things to think about is the fact that we live in a world full of engineers, physicists, and just plain old white lab coat scientists who have grown up with the likes of STAR WARS, STAR TREK, DR. WHO, and BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA fueling their imaginations.
To the right minds, most science fiction serves as a blue print for a future they have yet to craft. To think that somewhere out in this world, some of the greatest minds on this planet have dedicated themselves to being the first people to craft an actual real life lightsaber makes me giddy with joy.
As fun as it is to think about all the amazing things that have yet to become reality, we all know that the future isn’t set in stone and things may not go as we hope. We know this because of images we’ve gleaned from THE TERMINATOR, CHILDREN OF MEN, or turning to literature, we can look further back to the works of George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, or Aldous Huxley; works which constantly remind us that if we aren’t mindful of where we are being lead, we can very easily find ourselves wondering where our fables of a sleek utopia went.
It all makes me wonder that if storytellers have the power to craft the fantastical world of wonder and information we all dream of with only their tales, then do they have the ability to drive us in the opposite direction? I would have to image the answer is yes. For every post apocalyptic image pumped out over the years, have we been taking steps towards sowing our own Orwellian fate? Ironically, if the answer is yes, then I hope everyone has a copy of Fahrenheit 451 handy, or maybe take a moment to track down a copy of EQUILIBRIUM on blu ray, because the driving force behind the tales in both examples is the theme of censorship. If we are being driven as a society to destroy ourselves through art, does either the government or the people have a right to censor the work of an individual?
The short answer is no.
Should artists stop to maybe consider the ramifications of their words? Absolutely, but you don’t need to craft a society for that to be applicable. Everyone should stop to consider what might become of what they say. We should also be mindful of what we read and watch. Never forget that if a handful of writers and artists can guide our future, then certainly we as a people can collectively right our course when we wander off the path of us all having our own hoverboards.