We can all agree that 2016 was a rusty dumpster full of burning diapers rolling down a hill and into an orphanage, but it's hard to know we were just unlucky or those 12 months are our new reality. Since we're all hiding in our homes fearing for the worst anyway, we might as well look to the movies for hints on what's headed our way. We dug through a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy films (and one TV show) that take place in 2017 to see just how much we're screwed. Hint: It's a lot.
Futuristic deathgames have been a staple of sci-fi for decades, but in the real world, sports actually seem to be getting safer. People are fretting over things like "concussions" and "long-term psychological damage" instead of forcing prisoners to participate in lethal athletic competitions for the entertainment of millions. These dark times we live in could be so much darker!
This all may change in 2017, since that's when the 1987 action flick The Running Man is set. According to the standard "introductory text explaining the new and horrible future," the television in this universe is state-run, and the government has outlawed art, music and every other form of expression besides loud yellow bodysuits. It's around this time that Ben Richards, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger at the top of his adonishood, gets framed and eventually tricked into the gladiatorial arena combat reality show from which the movie takes its title.
Pretty much everyone turns out to watch The Running Man, from the upper class to those movie-brand poor people whose main fashion statement is rubbing oily rags on their faces. You'd line up too, if the main event was Arnold being assaulted by a fat dude in a Tron suit modded with Lite Brite bulbs.
There's an underground resistance movement, Arnold works to undermine the game from the inside, the fraudulent nature of the game is exposed, etc etc. In the end, nothing changes. Even after seeing first-hand just how terrible The Running Man is, the audience roars with delight as the bad guy is unwillingly rocketed into the arena on the Ironic Death Express.
The society shown in this reality, one much like our own, has an astonishing tolerance for horrific shit being thrown in their faces on a daily basis. Nobody wants to confront these atrocities, because that would mean changing their comfortable way of life. They'd all rather watch some idiot get ravaged by rabid dogs on Climbing for Dollars.
The Running Man is a pretty silly movie, but it does have humankind's base cruelty and utter stupidity on lock. It works well because, even though this is a painfully 80s vision of the future, there are some parts that resemble today's landscape with uncanny clarity.
No parts of which, unfortunately, are Jesse Ventura's workout videos.
If 2017 is going to be as bad as The Running Man says it is, at least we'll have this.
On a brighter note, 2017 is also the year that the Potters, Weasleys and Malfoys send the next generation of kids to Hogwarts. As seen in the somewhat fan-fictiony official epilogue to the series, what looks to be almost every character you care about in the Harry Potter universe has hooked up and had kids.
Remember, much of the Harry Potter series is set in the 90s, with the climactic Voldemart battle taking place in 1998. Flash forward 19 years and everyone has settled down and spawned a brood of their own, eventually shipping them off to annoy, plague and otherwise menace Headmistress McGonagall.
That's Albus Potter sitting down next to his his big brother James, sitting across from Rose Granger-Weasley. The other kids, Lily Potter and Hugo Granger-Weasley, have a couple years yet to wait before they get to board the train and eat strange chocolate frogs and piss-flavored jelly beans.
We don't get a good look at what 2017 is going to be like for us muggles, but it's probably not for our benefit that Ron's demon ginger child Demian Weasley is roaming the earth out there somewhere.
It'll be a while before Tom Cruise becomes a PreCrime police officer in Minority Report in the 2050s. Assuming he maintains his immortality, Cruise will eventually wander the remnants of Earth after an alien attack, maintaining local combat drones in the year 2077. That's according to the 2013 movie Oblivion, anyway.
So what does this have to do with 2017? Well, early on in Oblivion, the Cruise missile buzzes by a damaged drone that landed in the middle of a destroyed football stadium.
Note the date on the World Champions banner: 2017. This was the site of the last Super Bowl before the alien invasion wiped out almost everyone on the planet.
Cruise seems to remember this game in vivid detail, because as we mentioned before, Tom Cruise is an ageless timelord. He then proceeds to playfully re-enact the last-ditch hail mary play in front of everyone who saw Rock of Ages.
It's sort of strange that 2017's Super Bowl seemingly breaks tradition by taking place at the stadium belonging to one of the two competing teams, but if the rest of Oblivion is any indication, humanity is in for a few plot twists more bizarre than the Patriots getting home field advantage for the big game.
If you were a 12 year-old straight male in the 90s and were lucky enough to have access to HBO, you've probably seen at least the first five minutes of Barb Wire. It is in no way a classic or even a "good movie," but it holds a special place in nostalgic preteen boners everywhere. That's in large part thanks to Pamela Anderson, who stars as the titular mercenary/undercover exotic dancer/classy club owner.
Joining the Pregame Expository Text Scroll Club along with The Running Man (and yeah, Star Wars), Barb Wire introduces herself as a citizen of the remnants of the United States, which is more or less entirely under martial law in 2017. The Second American Civil War is still raging, and the "last free city" is Steel Harbor, where Barb keeps bar and uh, works a few side jobs.
The world in Civil War II appears to vary wildly from place to place; while Steel Harbor just looks like your typical shitty L.A. slum with Tang-tinted fog, Washington D.C. is straight out of Fallout 3.
For a totalitarian state, some things in this universe are surprisingly progressive. Prostitution is not only legal, but those registered are subject to mandatory health screenings.
The plot of the movie is basically Casablanca, but set in the future. Seriously. Instead of World War II it's Civil War II; Pam Anderson's Barb Wire owns a bar in neutral territory just like Humphrey Bogart's Rick; the bad guys in both movies either dress like Nazis or are Nazis. Barb Wire even has a MacGuffin that everyone wants to use to get out of the country -- but instead of travel papers, as in Casablanca, the item in this case is a set of rare contact lenses, which can fool retinal scans to bypass border security.
To recap: America is a divided wasteland nanny state with well-regulated sex workers. Louie, I think this is the beginning of a horrible 2017.
The 2006 Adam Sandler movie Click isn't exactly what you'd call a sci-fi classic, but it does have one of the more embarrassing versions of the future. If you saw the movie -- or just watched the trailer, there's not much of a difference -- you'd recall that this Christmas Carol-ish comedy revolves around a TV remote that can control space and time. Instead of using this unbelievable device to feed the hungry or otherwise save innocent lives, Sandler of course decides this godlike power to punch his boss in the face, ogle a jogger's bouncing boobs in slow motion and make America feel all-around dumber for ever laughing at his movies.
When the remote starts acting up, Sandler eventually finds himself waking up in 2017. Which uh, resembles Hugh Hefner's bachelor pad, except with rotating blinds and fingerprint scanners instead of light switches.
Click decides to focus on the interim happenings in the Sandler family over exploring the strange new world of 2017, probably because it suits the story better and is way, way cheaper. One of the few exceptions being a few cheap shots heard over the news radio as a car pulls into a driveway.
"Hey Adam, what if we add a Britney Spears dig on the radio in the 2017 segment?"
"Hmm, well, what if she's had only like two kids by then? Wouldn't that make a hacky joke even more irrelevant when the future rolls around?"
"Eh, nobody's going to be watching this in 11 years anyway."
"Ah yeah, that's fair. Make sure to add in something about Kevin Federline while we're at it, at least. I'm sure nobody will ever forget he existed."
There's also another news item that mentions Michael Jackson suing his own clone for molesting himself; the gag is so awful and dated that scientists are still studying it today. To be fair, the end of the movie implies that Adam Sandler can still ensure that this future never happens -- maybe if we're lucky, he'll undo the last ten years of Adam Sandler movies.
Okay, this one is a TV show and not a movie, but still, Parks and Recreation did a pretty great job portraying the near-future. The seventh season, which began in early 2015, jumped ahead a couple years to 2017, bringing with it a few subtle (and a few not-so-subtle) wrinkles for the new era.
Granted, it's a little easier to predict the future when you're so close to it, but a couple moments in these last handful of episodes were truly prescient. One episode features a delivery drone, the first successful test of which Amazon just completed in late 2016. And you might have seen this moment go viral earlier in 2016, just after the Cubs won the World Series.
Like a lot of the season's pop culture predictions (Kevin James starring in a Bourne Identiy reboot, Elton John buying Chick-fil-A), this was probably meant as a joke... but what if it wasn't? What if the writers have foreknowledge of future events and have used their abilities to add a bit of flavor to a beloved sitcom a bit past its prime?
That would mean at some point in the next 12 months, we're going to get sweet holographic tablets that also sort of want to murder humans.
Unfortunately for us, the tech company that makes these rad homicidal iPads doesn't actually exist in the here and now (yet). Which means that it's up to Apple to innovate, as long as they take time out from being brave enough to remove essential features from their products.
Barring that, we can at least hope that our 2017 still includes elbow bedazzling and a book of train-inspired poetry by Joe Biden.
I don't know about you, but I'm going to skip the last Super Bowl to get gems embedded into my arm joints before Civil War II starts.Tristan Cooper can be found on Twitter.