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Equation and what it may mean for us
Generally speaking, those of us here at The Future Watch consider television to be an extremely addicting, mind wasting, soul destroying drug. That said, it's a vice that most of us indulge in from time to time. And, if you're going to watch the idiot box, you might as well watch something that is thought provoking and possibly even educational. In that spirit, we've made a number of recommendations. If you know of any other interesting thought provoking movies or television shows that should be included in this list, please write up a short review and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Not all reviews will be included on the site, but they are all appreciated nonetheless.
Sleeper Cell was an excellent Showtime series that followed a sleeper terrorist cell in the U.S. as they planned an attack. This series not only offered a realistic portrayal of terrorism, but more importantly a realistic portrayal of terrorists - the terrorists were multi-sided people with histories and personalities and families. Furthermore, it offered a fair look at two faces of devout Islam - one that valued life, and one that valued hate. We at The Future Watch highly recommend Sleeper Cell.
Syriana is difficult for many people to follow. That said, it is well worth a second or even third viewing. It traces several linkages between the American government, big oil, terrorism, and repressive Arab regimes. While the movie itself raised some controversy for not presenting the U.S. in a wholly positive light, former CIA director Jim Woolsey criticized it for dialing back from the harsh truth in order to broaden its appeal to patriotic Americans.
Dirty War is about a terrorist attack on London. It follows radioactive material as it is smuggled into England, assembled into a dirty bomb, and then set off in London. It then follows government and emergency workers as they attempt to deal with the aftermath of the attack. It demonstrates the difficulty of dealing with affected people and how almost any emergency service is likely to be overwhelmed in such a scenario.
Category: Natural Disaster
Deep Impact is predicated on the possibility of a large comet hitting Earth. It received plaudits for being more scientifically accurate than the next movie on this list (Armageddon), but the science is still minimal. Deep Impact does contain a very important idea, however. To protect people from the comet impact and its disastrous aftermath, the government builds a large underground bunker - capable of containing enough people, plants, animals, and supplies to rebuild years after the impact. This general idea may be essential to preserving our species through the 21st century.
Armageddon contains many well documented scientific flaws. Furthermore, the end of the world scenario it presents (an asteroid hitting Earth) probably isn't a very immediate worry (clearly it could happen and could destroy the human species - but it's event that is pretty unlikely to occur in a human time frame). That said, for an asteroid hitting the Earth movie it's mildly thought provoking, and is definitely fun to watch.
Category: The Beginning of the End:
isn't very impressive for the quality of its ideas. It does deal with an
end of the world scenario - but alien invasion is very unlikely. That said,
Independence Day does show scenes of congestion and panic in the cities as people
flee the invaders. And, since it's a Hollywood blockbuster, it's easy
to watch. Plus it has a couple of great scenes of humans working
together across political and religious divides - something that all of us who
fear the end like to see.
Cateogory: The Aftermath of Destruction:
The Day After deals with the events surrounding a hypothetical nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Its powerful portrayal of post-nuclear destruction and chaos influenced decision-makers in the 1980s, and many of this movie's ideas are still applicable today. Major nuclear war may be less likely now, but it isn't out of the question. And many types of disaster scenarios could result in overwhelmed support systems and weakened government control.
Children of Men is set in the future - 20 years after the last child was born and humanity became infertile. Much of the world is in chaos, but the movie is set in Britain where an authoritarian government still manages to maintain order. To prevent Britain from drowning in a sea of refugees, the government adopts extremely harsh methods of dealing with them. These methods give rise to anti-government terrorist movements. This movie is interesting because it shows the societal decay that results when hope for the future dies.