Continuing from yesterday’s post, what is it, exactly, that caused the shift in our science fiction view of the future from optimism to pessimism and even paranoia? When, exactly, did we go from white mirror to black mirror?
From the perspective of the U.S., my best guess is the general response to our nation’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict, compounded by the Watergate scandal. That was a time when a large swatch of the citizenry rapidly grew distrustful of their federal government.
This seems to be supported by the timing of various science fiction offerings in popular culture. For example, when Star Trek came out in 1966, the nation was, for the most part, blissfully unaware of anything to do with the Vietnam conflict other than what their own government was telling them.
By 1968, the debut of two far more dystopian films — 2001, A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes — the cracks in our sunny narrative of the future were starting to burst open.
By 1973, in the wake of both Vietnam and the Watergate scandal, we had Soylent Green and Westworld, two films as paranoid as it gets. The tide had decisively turned, never again to turn back.