October 24th, 2004


20 Minutes Into The Future...

My outlook on the future is one of gleaming towers, high technology, and molecular perfection. My aesthetic, however, is firmly rooted in the night time neon city wastelands of the cyberpunk post-apocalypse. My head may be the clouds with space elevators and nanofactories, but my soul sings in abandoned factory complexes and shattered cityscapes. With that in mind, I'd like to take a moment to raise my glass and toast an unsung icon of cyberpunk films. Today, I pay tribute to oil drum fires.

You've seen them before- from Blade Runner to Dark Angel all the good cyberpunk movies and TV shows have them. Hell, most of the bad ones have 'em, too! They're the big rusty 55 gallon drums with God-knows-what burning in them. Usually they're in the slums/wasteland/kipple/combat zone, and are typically seen with homeless/vagrants/blanks/refugees in tattered rags huddling around them for warmth.

Understated yet evocative, they're a staple scene element of the genre, and perfectly represent urban decay at its most glorious. I wish that there were more of them in the real world. I'd gladly have one in my front yard, and it'd make the start of my day a little happier if I had to drive around a few of 'em (and maybe some old car wreckage!) on the way to work in the morning. :-)

So here's to you, oil drum fire- you warm my dystopian heart.

On a related note, remember Max Headroom, the semi-computer generated Coca-Cola spokesman? He started out as a talk show host on Channel Four in Britain. They made a sci-fi TV movie that explained the origins of the character and was later turned into a short-lived TV series in the US (why oh why hasn't it come out on DVD?). Though the plots were "dumbed down" some in the later episodes, the show as a whole was brilliant, and more than a little prescient.

I was looking up information recently on the Max Headroom TV series and found something that is at once cool and a little disappointing. Based on the age of one of the characters (Bryce Lynch), and his date of birth (which is mentioned in some source material), the actual year when the show takes place can be extrapolated. It's 2004.

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