Thursday, January 18, 2007

The precognitives weren't just in the movie...

Back in 2002, Tom Cruise didn't bug me nearly as much as he does these days. (I've always thought I could separate an actor's public image from a role he or she plays, but I'm convinced I couldn't get his freak-o persona out of my head while watching Mission: Impossible III, and thus didn't care for it.) But even if he had, I think I still would've enjoyed Minority Report - which is one of my favorite movies of the last five years.

One of its aspects that continues to impress me is how visionary the futuristic world created for that movie has turned out to be. Maybe it wasn't too much of a stretch to imagine that media would become more immediate and portable, population growth and urban gridlock would demand taking roadways above ground, and various civil liberties would be compromised in the name of law enforcement. Maybe it wasn't too difficult to look at our society and extend assorted technological and sociological trends further, and I'm giving this film too much credit.

But after reading this article from Monday's New York Times about marketers looking for every nook and cranny in which to paste their advertising, I couldn't help but think of Tom Cruise walking through a mall concourse while being deluged with sound and imagery from ads specifically targeted toward each individual citizen of 2054 Washington D.C.

That day is coming, isn't it? It's practically already here. The only difference - so far - is that the moving pictures and sound aren't being beamed directly into our own brains.

What else from the movie is suddenly becoming reality? How about that stuff with Cruise's character manipulating the size and location of images on a screen with his hands? Doesn't the "'rubber Web page' stretching technology" that will allow you to zoom in and out of web pages with the iPhone sound strangely similar?

And the days of reading the newspaper on a paper-thin video screen that you can fold up and carry around aren't that far away, either.

So any guesses on what Minority Report will get right next? Maybe that disguise that ages Cruise's face beyond saggy recognition will come true once we find out what long-term effects all those Botox injections might have on people.