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The Dystopic 70s

THX2.jpgI just found out that Mac users, like me, can now view some Netflix films online. That option has been open to PC users for over a year now, but don't get me started on that.

So I was strolling through their catalog and, without really planning to, I started watching films and shows from the 1970s, the era of my childhood. Of particular note were THX 1138 and Logan's Run.

I remember watching both of these a long time ago, but was pretty fuzzy about the details of each. Both are about a dystopian future where computers pretty much rule everything, but beyond that they are very different futures.

Logan's Run is a future in which everyone looks like a model and runs around like they are in a groovy soda commercial. The only catch is, you have to die when you are 30, but you get to die in a pretty cool pyrotechnic show in which you get to fly around in spandex, so that's not so bad.

THX 1138 is a future in which your medicine cabinet talks to you in comforting tones, suggesting what kind of medication you might want. The police are robots who also talk in comforting tones, while looking like black and silver nightmares, and hot pursuits are budgeted in real time and they have to break off pursuit if they go over budget.

The interesting thing that both of these dystopias foresaw was a world in which the natural world, the world outside, was completely unknown and alien. In both stories the hero, who is rebelling against the dominant paradigm, is trying to get outside, much like Plato's cave hero.

Both also address religion as a root cause of the enslavement of their societies. In Logan's Run it is a permissive religion that allows any pleasure as long as they submit to termination or "rebirth" at 30. In THX 1138 it is an impersonal voice of OMM which soothes, comforts, and encourages drones to work harder, be submissive, and consume more.

Logan's world does appear, on the outside, to be a technicolor paradise, if you like endless malls and food courts of very thin people. THX's world, on the other hand, appears to be a world where everyone is miserable all the time and in desperate need of Rogaine.

Interestingly, THX 1138, which I remember as being a real snooze fest, held up better over time for me while Logan's Run seemed really dated, exploitative, and clunky. That said, I still think Jessica 6 is hot.

Anyone want to weigh in on these two films or what you remember of them?


I recall it the other way around: Logan's Run was the snoozefest, other than its tacky pleasures such as Farah Fawcett Majors' cameo. THX 1138 blew me away. I still think it's better than Star Wars.

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