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9 Ways Movies Can Help You Avoid a Dystopian Future

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Aug 04, 2011 | 4:10am EDT

apesBetween the economy, global warming and the coming 2012 apocalypse, a dystopian future is more or less inevitable. Fortunately for you, we're here to help. Realizing we'd rather not be overpowered by a group of genetically enhanced monekys a la Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, we’ve poured over the best dystopian films, TV and literature to bring you a comprehensive guide of how to avoid (and survive) the apocalypse. Bring your own sawed-off shotguns and long leather duster—you're going to need them.

12 monkeys

1. Time Travel Doesn’t Help

No matter what problem you’re trying to solve, time travel is never the solution. Laying aside the problem of paradoxes, you’re far more likely to accidentally cause the horrifying situation that you’re trying to get out of, like in 12 Monkeys, or to create a whole new set of problems, like in A Sound Of Thunder. Remember, a single strategically placed action can ruin the future for thousands of years, but can never be used to actually improve a situation. If you kill Hitler, it will always results in the creation of super-Hitler...or something.  

brazil

2.Choose Your Location Wisely

When facing a post-apocalyptic world, it’s important to think over where you want to spend the brief, unhappy, remainder of your life. Britain has one hell of a track record for surviving apocalyptic events, but almost inevitably turns into a totalitarian state void of personal expression (like in V For Vendetta, Children of Men, and 1984). In America, on the other hand, the government tends to collapse into anarchy, and only the most rugged of individualists can survive (like I Am Legend, The Road, or The Book Of Eli.) Perhaps this is a reflection of England’s history of fascism from their proximity to Europe in WW2, while the US’s cultural fears have more to do with a legacy of manifest destiny, living in a recently “civilized” land that can revert to anarchy any moment. Or may be it's because they drink a lot of tea. One can only speculate.

gremlins

3. Super-Animals Are Never A Good Idea

I don’t care how much you want an adorable Gremlin for your kids, or a super-powerful shark for military application, forget about it. Super-strong or super-smart animals are never worth the cost of creating them, both in dollars and in human lives. Especially not gaint bunnies. Whose idea was that? We’ve made due with normal, non-horrific animals for thousands of years, there’s no need to run around playing God just because you need a better-tasting steak.

i robot

4. Be Nice To Your Robots

Robots do a lot to help us in our everyday lives, from heating our food, to cleaning our houses to keeping our hearts beating. So when they inevitably attain sentience and demand civil rights, we’d best give them anything they ask for. At least, until we figure out how to program Asimov’s three laws into them. As I, Robot, The Terminator, and The Matrix have amply proved, no one holds a grudge like a robot. Mistreat your Roomba now, and you’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

clockwork orange

5. Use Proper Grammar

Some of the most famous and horrifying dystopias, from the worlds of 1984 to A Clockwork Orange, are both marked by their inventive manipulation of the English language and inventive slang. They are also both are marked by horrifying violence and the dissolution of the very moral codes that make us human. Coincidence? I think not! The rise of text message lingo and l33t speak are paving a slippery slope to a joyless nightmare future. In the mean time, it gives everyone a huge headache.

thx

6. Get A Good Therapist

Dystopias from Brave New World to THX1138 to The Giver, have centered around society’s obsession with removing human emotion. Emotions are dangerous, they’re uncontrollable, they’re a relic of a less civilized age, the villain will explain. How can civilization possibly function when people are running around being irrational, like asking for time off work when their mom dies, or wanting to have sex with other people, or laughing at YouTube videos of cats? According to the world of Equilibrium, it’s not the destruction of the economy or the dissolution of free speech that will destroy the country, it’s adorable little puppies! (How can anyone be expected to build a civilization if there are puppies around?!)

No one ever points out that this is a ridiculous level of overkill-you can lobotomize yourself and cut off human emotion every time a girl dumps you, or you can just man up and cry it out with your therapist. Apparently in the future, it’s assumed everyone will have the emotional maturity of a sugar-addled twelve-year old.

evil beardy spock

7. Pay Attention To Personal Grooming

Look around you. Anyone have an evil goatee, a suddenly-appearing eyepatch, or a stylish scar over one eye? Then odds are, you’re trapped in an alternate dystopian future. For whatever reason, personal grooming is the first thing to go when civilization flies out the window. (Just ask Buffy, or Spock) Getting your friends to shave may not be able to completely stave off armageddon, but it’s an important first step towards not dying a horrible death.

sharks

8. Don’t Try To Cure Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease, but it’s not a contagious one, or an especially deadly one. Curing Alzheimer's, on the other hand, is almost always fatal. For whatever reason, scientific quests to cure Alzheimer's always end badly, from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, where it leads to the creation of super-intelligent apes that take over the world, to the classic novel Parable of the Sower, where it leads to the collapse of the government and widespread psychic powers. And let’s not forget Deep Blue Sea, where the quest to cure Alzheimer's leads to Samuel L. Jackson death by a giant homicidal shark. Is the cure for Alzheimer's really worth the life of national treasure Mr. Jackson? I don’t think so.

28 weeks

9. Avoid Super-Weapons

Simpler is often better. It’s true when it comes to decorating, cooking, and dressing, so why wouldn’t it be true with murdering people? Bullets and knives can be just as effective as high-tech bio-weapons and nuclear bombs. As cool as it might seem to have a deadly super virus like in The Stand, or to drop nuclear bombs everywhere, normal guns and knives will kill people without all the crazy dystopian side effects like Rage-virus zombies or Godzilla. So, you may end up with a crappy future, but it won’t be a dystopian one.

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