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Abrams: The Future’s Not Today!

Posted by T'Bonz - 14/11/13 at 12:11 pm


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J.J. Abrams has a pet peeve when it comes to TV or movie stories set in the future.

The Star Trek into Darkness director gets annoyed when writers use phrases or actions in their futuristic stories that will not be used in that future time frame being shown, but are only relevant today.

“I don’t often kick my feet up and ponder what it’ll be like fifty years from now,” Abrams said, “but I find myself — whether it’s been working on movies like Star Trek or a series like Almost Human — I do find myself asking what do I believe about what could happen. Frankly, one of my biggest pet peeves is the use of certain phrases that I just can’t for the life of me believe will exist five decades from now.

“Even little things. If you read a story about a hard drive, it’s like, There won’t be a hard drive! I’m not saying there won’t be a version of a memory cartridge or some obvious equivalent. If you’re telling a story about the future, we’re going to be bipeds, we’re going to be wearing clothes, we’ll live in structures, we’ll consume comestibles, we’ll inhale oxygen. They’re all things we know we’ll maintain.”

Abrams reminded people to look back in time to understand his complaint. “When you think on a day-to-day basis how many little things we might say or refer to that if thirty years ago someone had said to you, ‘You know, I’ll text you in 10 minutes,’ you’d be like, ‘What’d you say?’ It would almost be like alien talk.

“You have to think in terms of practical dialogue. Producing a TV show or movie, there are just going to be certain phrases and terms that will be completely alien to us now, if we heard them from the future.”

Source: Io9

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  • Rad

    Okay, so ‘splain the Nokia brand name and ring-tone in “Star Trek”? Or a good-ole’ fashioned fire hose on reel in “Darkness”? Or the overused beer plant in both? Sorry, JJ, the argument just does not hold up. In “Wrath of Khan” when Kirk and Spock are talking in the hallway, the art director had the intellect to think “What would a vacuum look like in this century?” and created one that looked the part. You did not see “Budweiser” logos in the cantina scenes in “Search for Spock” or “The Final Frontier”. JJ, cerebral is a good thing, you don’t need to sell the 20-somethings on “Wow! Cool! They drink Bud on Trek! Rock on!”.

  • mythme

    The Nokia thing immediately popped into my head too. More and more of these kind of Abrams/Kurtzman/Orci stories emerge and none of them really seem to hold water.

  • milojthatch

    Shut up JJ, no one cares!

  • Kokanee33

    You mean like “72 human Popsicles”?

  • NeronWillRise

    Do you not understand the difference between cherrypicking brand names (for sponsorship reasons or otherwise) to have exist in the future in some form, and the usage of outdated terms that won’t be used 20 years from now, much less 200? Nobody’s going to say “text me” or “email me” in 200 years. They will definitely still drink beer, possibbly drink Budweiser though and they definitely CAN be allowed to exist in this universe if they’re helping pay for your movie. Do you not get the difference between obvious retro-style artistic license and the use of technologically outdated terminology? The firehose is a style choice. Like Kirk’s glasses. McCoy could’ve given him contacts or some sort of computerized goggles, but he chose glasses because of the visual and the connection to us.

    I swear, people’s need to convince us all how evil and dumb JJ Abrams is and how smart they are because he dared to make a movie or two they didn’t like is baffling.

  • Guest

    I know where Abrams is coming from here, but made-up future terms (especially slang) never quite seem to work either, although I admit to a certain enjoyment of Shadowrun’s terms like “chummer” and “wiz” and “null sheen.”

  • m

    Didn’t Kirk say something about somebody being “thrown under the bus” in STID? I thought so.

  • BotanyCameos

    Agreed.Bitter people would jump on any excuse to whine at whatever Abrams says. Even though the keyboard warriors could never have made a movie that reaches even 1% of the quality and enjoyable potential of his movies.

  • milojthatch

    You really don’t get “Star Trek,” do you? In the future (that Gene Roddenberry envisioned), there would be no need for corporations like Budweiser or Nokia because capitalism is dead and those companies exist for profit. There are no brand names in the Star Trek future. It’s just way out of line for a Star Trek film not set in modern times (i.e. Star Trek IV) to have corporate anything!

  • NeronWillRise

    I’ve watched Star Trek my whole life. I think I get it pretty well.

    1. Who said anything about corporations? We’re talking brands. You can still get logos on shirts for companies that stopped making products years ago. You think they’ll forget the formula for Budweiser 200 years from now?

    2. Gene’s vision (a term I’m sick of hearing) has nothing to do with the point at hand. The point at hand was the perceived hypocrisy of JJ’s statements where there is none.

  • JoCat

    JJ’s argument doesn’t hold water because there will be some sort of computer hard drives and other familiar technology in the future and perhaps they will have different names than they do now. But maybe not. Or those familiar tech stuff will just look different than they do now. We just don’t know until we get there. The word,”computer’ first came into the English language in 1646 and we still use it today. Originally, it referred to “one who computes” (a mathematician). Now, what we mean by “computer” has changed over the centuries and over the decades but it is still being used. And today, the computer has referred to some sort of computing, data storing, and data manipulating machine for decades. I don’t think we’ll stop using familiar tech terms but, instead, we’ll add more tech terms to them. Such as newer and faster computer models.And there will be new technology applications. For instance also JJ’s example of texting. No one texted anyone 30 years ago but now we do. “Texting” will now remain as a familiar term to us now and most likely in the future. That has been add to our knowledge and use of technology. What I do think will be gone are familiar brand names like Nokia. I was very surprised to see Nokia and other brand names show up in a futuristic movie.So, therefore, JJ is contradicting himself about the use or non-use of familiar terms…

  • hostile_17

    I say I’m going to tape stuff. Guess what, tape ain’t involved!

  • hostile_17

    That’s implying the Nokia thing was his choice. It wouldn’t have been. And in fact his comments may be subtle jabs at such placement.

  • JoCat

    That is a really good point!!

  • JoCat

    I guess my real point here is that, JJ shouldn’t be putting down other scifi writers. He is a talented writer and has had wonderful success. He is in a position now, that he could be an inspiration and be encouraging to new writers. If new sci fi writers are sending him samples of their work then that is because they hope to be successful too. And perhaps their writing might not be the quality he looks for, at least not yet. But he could encourage with pointers on what they need to do.