The Need For Speed

As a great man once said, life moves pretty fast. And it's just getting faster. It seems like only yesterday we were talking about how e-book sales had surpassed the number of purchases of the genuine article. OK, that was, in fact, yesterday. We won't all be sitting around saying, "Oh man, remember when we used to have books?" any time soon. But as has been espoused elsewhere more eloquently and at great length, basically, the more things change, the more they change.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil has advanced the "historical exponential view" -- that the pace of technological change can't be calculated in a linear way because advances in technology beget more technological advances, exponentially. "It is not the case that we will experience a hundred years of progress in the twenty-first century," Kurzweil wrote in his 2005 book "The Singularity Is Near" (why not download the Kindle edition?) "Rather we will witness on the order of twenty thousand years of progress (at today's rate of progress, that is)."

Linear vs. Exponential Growth

From e-reader adoption to 4G networks (antennaegate hiccups aside) mobile technology is progressing more quickly than you might have ever anticipated in the 1980s when you chatted on your "car phone" in your "Benz." Soon enough your car will be the "phone."

But there is a place where all this deliberate speed really takes its toll: our pop culture. As College Humor made plain with this montage riffing on how films from "Forrest Gump" to "Fight Club" would be different if the characters had reliable mobiles, even movies from just a few years ago can be easily ruined by the existence of cell phones. What are the screenwriters to do?

Especially hard hit, of course, will be horror movies. Almost all of them are rendered utterly meaningless by even a Nokia brick. Car broke down on a desolate country road? Call AAA. Rob Zombie was faced with this dilemma when writing his gore-schlocksterpiece "House of 1,000 Corpses." His solution? Set the film in the '70s.

Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" even toys with the idea, mashing elements of different decades into an unrecognizable bouillabaisse of an era. Despite the fact that the movie contains one of the most painfully beautiful text message sequences ever set to film, nobody seems to have a cell phone on them when it would have helped to call 911 to put a stop to the deranged serial killer.

Maybe our pop culture will become a self-consciously hip stew of meta-references and retro posturing. Oh, wait. Too late. See, it's just like Ferris says.


Next story loading loading..