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The palpable fear of what we experience daily without a second thought
January 30, 2012 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Future Shock (2, 3, 4, 5) is a glimpse at society on the precipice of the information age, in this 1972 documentary based on the Alvin Toffler classic about the world gone mad, due to technology and computers. Narrated by Orson Welles.

"What do we buy, where do we go, what shoud we think? The make, the model, the price… Buy now! Keep up with the latest! Don’t fall behind! The pre-cooked, pre-packaged, plastic-wrapped instant society. We’re faced with so many choices, so many decisions. We have to make them so quickly. None of us can escape the pressures. That’s what Future Shock is all about.”
posted by crunchland (22 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
One should also note Curtis Mayfield's fantastic song by the same name, which he wrote after seeing the documentary.
posted by koeselitz at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


After reading that article last week about Newt Gingrich's fawning over Future Shock and Megatrends, I wanted to read them to help me understand the man.

The McGraw-Hill logo and popping sound from the film transfer at the beginning brought back some elementary school flashbacks.
posted by birdherder at 1:40 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who was it that said Future Shock is the most thrown out book ever? The observation was that if you find a book in the garbage or laying out for someone to take there is like a 50% chance it will be Future Shock.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:45 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would compare this to the book, but.... I threw it out.
posted by HuronBob at 1:48 PM on January 30, 2012


And a 50% chance it will be Boom, Bust & Echo.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:48 PM on January 30, 2012


Who was it that said Future Shock is the most thrown out book ever?

I thought that was Atlas Shrugged. Whatever.

We actually studied that book in an anthropology class about how NOT to write about trends in society. I think the professor was too bored to come up with a decent curriculum.
posted by elendil71 at 1:54 PM on January 30, 2012


"Every day we're bombarded by choices. We need to make instant decisions. We're in endless combat with our own environment with all its pace and variety, its choice and over-choice." = "Freedom from choice is what you want."

(One of those statements was sarcastic.)

P.S. The plane at the beginning has a horn that plays La Cucaracha!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:58 PM on January 30, 2012


Here's the key folks...

1. Smoke a cigar, bath your face in it's cloudy toxins.
2. Furrow brow
3. Pause in awkward places in the monologue
4. Never, I repeat, NEVER even glance at the camera

You now have the ability to make a chocolate chip cookie recipe sound ominous.
posted by HuronBob at 2:02 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does it start to have less bombast and more actual content after the first part?
posted by jiawen at 2:03 PM on January 30, 2012


Who was it that said Future Shock is the most thrown out book ever? The observation was that if you find a book in the garbage or laying out for someone to take there is like a 50% chance it will be Future Shock.

We actually studied that book in an anthropology class about how NOT to write about trends in society.

Can someone explain? I've wanted to read this book. What's so bad about it?
posted by Sangermaine at 2:12 PM on January 30, 2012


Does it start to have less bombast and more actual content after the first part?


I'm on part 4 now and the Orson's bombast doesn't let up. Crazy talk like artificial people, test-tube babies (it hadn't happened with humans yet), communes and plural marriage, gay marriage, women's rights, clones, cryogenics.
posted by birdherder at 2:14 PM on January 30, 2012


If you ever read John Brunner's "Shockwave Rider" you can see the Toffler's influence all over the book. It's worth a read though, as the grandaddy of cyberpunk. It predicted the wired society, and the network viruses and worms that are everyday occurrences now.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:14 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Herbie Hancock covered the Curtis Mayfield song on his album Future Shock, which includes 'Rockit'. So, you know, it's not all bad.
posted by chrisgregory at 2:18 PM on January 30, 2012


ah, life before the search engine.
posted by oonh at 2:18 PM on January 30, 2012


I worked for Al and Heidi Toffler for years. Everyone on staff loved making fun of this movie.

Also: Dear Newt, please stop associating yourself with him. Thanks.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:24 PM on January 30, 2012


Forgive me, MeFites, for quoting such a horrible human being, but Ann Coulter's summary is priceless:

The Tofflers were a couple of old folks who couldn’t figure out how to program their VCRs, so they began writing about the “shock” of technology and how we needed government planning to deal with technological overload.
posted by LarryC at 3:06 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ann Coulter's summary is... priceless.
posted by ovvl at 8:18 PM on January 30, 2012


I remember liking the book. I didn't last long watching this documentary.
posted by hippybear at 10:08 PM on January 30, 2012


The book was all around when I was growing up in the eighties, but I never actually read it.

I just googled for "duture shock pdf" (I didn't bother correcting the typo caused by using my iPad's keyboard, I knew Google would fix it for me) and skimmed the hell out of it. Didn't feel sufficiently motivated to try reading it in detail.

I'm forty. I've seen a lot of change through my life. Computer tech grew up with me, and now I'm eagerly looking forwards to it pretty much vanishing into the environment around us. My current major project is a comic book that's propaganda for AI rights. I've never felt overwhelmed by the change; for the most part I feel like things are constantly getting easier as more and more stuff gains smarts. I'm not on the bleeding edge any more but I'm still close to it.

I hope that I never become afraid of the new.
posted by egypturnash at 11:09 PM on January 30, 2012


I've never read the book, but I get the feeling that the documentary was aimed squarely at Richard Nixon's constituents -- probably your parents or grandparents -- to reassure them that, yes, the world is going a bit crazy (look! hippies! who can be any color they want to be!) but that it also held some pretty great advances, too. I think it's quaint and sort of endearing to see them go on and on about some of the tech the way they do. But then I wonder what the kids of 2035 are going to look at from today and say "aw, they were so stupid."
posted by crunchland at 3:35 AM on January 31, 2012


er, probably your parents or grandparents AGE.
posted by crunchland at 3:49 AM on January 31, 2012


HuronBob: "You now have the ability to make a chocolate chip cookie recipe sound ominous."

Or frozen peas.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:37 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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