Culture Clips: What Will the Future Look Like?

a futuristic dog with VR goggles

This Friday, moviegoers will line up to see War for the Planet of the Apes, a dystopian vision (at least for us human types) of a not-so-distant future ruled by hairy simians.

For those worried that this film could be a harbinger of a fate to come, let me offer you a bit of good news: Despite exhaustive research, our Plugged In staff has uncovered little evidence of a primate uprising. But what, exactly, can we expect in the future?

Well, if CGI actor Andy Serkis has his way, it might include an Oscar or two. Serkis, the man who’s brought digital creations such as the Lord of the Rings’ Gollum, 2005’s King Kong and Planet of the Apes’ Caesar to life, thinks that it’s about time that the Academy recognized these human-tech hybrid performances. “If they don’t think Caesar is good, that’s fine, but a different issue,” he told The New York Times.

Microsoft would also like the future to be a time in which every small hamlet in America has access to high-speed broadband. And what will our American hamleteers be doing with all that interconnectivity? Perhaps watching movies and television on Amazon Prime. The service claims 79 million members now, according to estimates from Morningstar, and it’s on pace to eclipse the number of households that pay for cable or satellite TV very soon. Forget a world filled with primates: It’ll be a world filled with Prime.

Meanwhile, some believe that the old-school broadcast networks—ABC, CBS and NBC—may be manipulating their ratings by, oddly, misspelling low-rated programs. An example: The NBC Nightly News was re-dubbed the “NBC Nitely News” for its Memorial Day telecast, a day when most folks are away from the television anyway. Nielsen’s automated ratings watchdog dutifully logged the show as a separate program, thus preserving NBC Nightly News’s ratings.

But it might be a world without much news. The latest evidence: a group of newspapers is asking Congress for permission to collectively bargain with Facebook and Google—online behemoths that typically take news from those newspapers, make it available for free and keep pretty much all the profits. Hard to pay reporters using that template. As The Atlantic’s Alexis C. Madrigal writes, “Tech has wound its way around journalism like a vine around an old tree.”

It could also be a future with fewer babies, too, judging by the latest data from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The birth rate is at its lowest ebb ever, declining in almost every age group. The exception? Women in their 30s and 40s, who are actually increasing their rates of childbearing.

Oh, and speaking of babies, some believe that the success of the unusual R-rated Baby Driver may alter Hollywood’s current summertime strategy: Instead of saturating the market with loads of CGI-laden blockbuster sequels, it may encourage studios to seek out more original fare. (Salon’s Max Cea is doubtful, though.)

And is it possible that our future could include President Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?  A group pushing the Rock to run for the Oval Office sure hopes so. The group, calling itself “Run the Rock 2020,” just filed some paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to smooth the way for just such a run.

No matter what the future holds for us, though, we can pretty much guarantee one thing: Rapper/media mogul Jay Z will be rich. His latest album, 4:44, was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America less than a week after its release—another success story for an artist whose net worth is already estimated at $810 million.

But while most people who’ve listened to the album have focused on Jay Z’s apparent apology to wife Beyoncé for his wandering ways, or the fact that his mom came out as a lesbian, or even daughter Blue Ivy’s rap skills, some wonder whether 4:44′s platinum status is all that it’s cracked up to be. Some distributors could have bought the album in bulk even before it was released, as Samsung did with Jay Z’s Magna Carta: Holy Grail in 2013. Oh, and some of Jay Z’s lyrics in the track “The Story of O.J.” have also sparked questions about anti-Semitism, as well.

But hey, the future is so far away, isn’t it? We Americans don’t like to wait for anything, even our futures. And that’s why the Russian jewelry company Caviar is satisfying your current, right-now need for a 100-gram gold-encrusted fidget spinner. It’ll only set you back $17,000.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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