Thank You, Gene Roddenberry
Back to the Future? Flash to the Present.
After binge watching The Blacklist, seeing some reruns of Star Trek, and rebooting Ian Fleming/Cubby Broccoli/Harry Saltzman’s James Bond episodes from Dr. No, (the first Bond film in 1963) right up to Skyfall and Spectre, it struck me that the greatest technology we enjoy on a daily basis (and those fruits of applied science) came from a variety of places.
Some of those origins were more conceptual, artistic, and theatrical, than rooted in math and science.
So, has art become science in the ensuing five decades? Perhaps this has consequences for how we think about the importance of visual arts in curriculum, and how important it truly is to nurture the imaginations of young people.
While we don’t yet have devices to spew oil from the back bumpers of our Aston Martins, if we did have Aston Martins, nor would we (but admit, you’ve thought about it) however, we do have some pretty impressive applications of other Bond-esque and Trekkie-inspired technology.
Not all of the cool stuff came from Nazis or NASA, Werner Von Braun, or military technology, or the “military-industrial complex” which sounds more like an industrial park with athletic fields. Much of it was just mocked-up foam, plastic and metallic spray paint, which played out on our black and white and later, static-buzzed color television “sets.”
Amazingly, sans the beam transporter and a few other developments we’ll likely see in due course, in 2021, we live in a spectacular time when many of these far out ideas have come down to earth, are real, and they are very much part of our existence. Electric cars, solar panels, tablets, phones, phablets, FitBits, Apple watches, Garmins, RFID tags, mid-air refueling, privatized space programs, solar powered trucks (check out my friend Jeff Flath’s company: www.enowenergy.com), 3D internal screens of the human body, cell generation, arthroscopic surgery, seedless watermelons and bottled water, the list goes on and on. And cryptocurrency. And 3D printed steaks. When will they start 3D printing currency? That ought to put a new twist on Dr. Evil.
Geez, just look at what we can do with lasers and tasers. For the heck of it, I wonder if anyone’s ever tried to simulate and determine if the “Enterprise” design would actually fly. Sooner or later one of the tech billionaires will build one.
It looks pretty clunky. Not as slick as the various designs piloted by the puppets from The Thunderbirds.
Remember the DeLorean time machine piloted by Jim Ignatowski from Taxi? I was always impressed by that since Christopher Lloyd’s prior Taxi character struggled to drive a banged-up Checker. As a side note, Back to the Future showed what life would be like in 2015, see the CNN clip here:
But, back to the discussion.
William Shatner, as Captain Kirk, spoke to his “management team” on what I am pretty sure was a flip phone. We, of course, didn’t know that at the time. And his “ship” was loaded with a bunch of cool flat screen TV’s and touch screens, but we didn’t know that at the time. Scottie never seemed to have enough power to get the crew out a jam, but presumably was instrumental in brainstorming the other cool gadgets they had built in, and as accessories.
It was always disconcerting that despite having a ship with hundreds of people, the Captain had to go himself to investigate random planets and engage in jiu jitsu with papier mache’ godzilla creatures on some orange planet.
(Left: The console of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB-5 — probably inspired the Garmin, the TomTom, and some of the space program)
I like to think of Scottie as James Bond’s “Q” equivalent, many years into the future. Q, of course, was the brain trust behind the Aston Martin DB-5’s gizmos, the rotating Rolex Submariner which cut through cable and rope, and what would later become navigation and GPS. Although unable to patch a small hole in the SS Minnow despite and endless supply of timber and glue, the Professor on Gilligan’s Island also displayed some MIT-grade prowess as he did manage to create some pretty high tech stuff out of coconuts and sand. He did after all make a short wave radio out of Gilligan’s head.
Was it William Shatner who changed the world? Actually, it was Gene Roddenberry.
“How Shatner Changed the World” was a slick program which premiered..oh…maybe 10 years ago…but it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come with applied technology (even in the 10 years since it was made) and how many more of the objects conceived have made it into our society (and Shatner’s work as pitchman for game changer PriceLine) The developments of cell phones, I-pads, medical technology, holograms, 3D printing, lasers, tasers, phasers and the like have Hollywood to thank, at least in part.
Worth a watch, a bit grainy, but it’s free on YouTube.
Having watched a few Jaws movies of late, sorry, it just doesn’t have the same fright factor it did when, in the mid to late 70’s, kids (and adults) wouldn’t go into the ocean, the backyard pool, or even take a shower. That mechanical shark which didn’t work all that well during filming doesn’t have the street cred (uh, sea cred) it had four decades ago, but Captain Kirk and Sean Connery’s 007 coolness and gadgetry have remained as frozen in time, perhaps, as the first time we saw Ursula Andress emerge from the sea, clad with diving knife. Sherioushly.
Wouldn’t it be great if Hollywood was conceiving technologies and innovation today in movie production that we’ll look back at in 2071, and marvel at? Hopefully we can make something better for mankind than robotic dinosaurs and buildings that come to life.
As Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Big once said, “what’s fun about a building?”
C’mon, Hollywood. Start creating again, and stop rebooting and rehashing.
Copyright, 2021, QORVAL Partners, LLC and/or Paul Fioravanti, MBA, MPA, CTP. No part of this article may be reproduced, shared or distributed or posted in any form without the express written consent of the author. All rights reserved.