Judge Dredd Predicts the Future: Part 2

1704131-dredd  For 40 years, 2000 AD has provided high concept (and often silly) post-apocalyptic sci-fi with Judge Dredd.  Somehow 2000 AD  writers have always been ahead of the curve on technological and social change. Looking at the series as a whole, it is easy to see where our own world has crossed into that of Mega-City One. With over 2000 Judge Dredd stories, it’s no surprise that some of them have overlapped with reality, but it is still fun to observe and dissect the parallels. For this series, we will periodically look at three different Judge Dredd stories and their real life counterparts.

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Undercover Santa: This one might be a little too fresh, but its parallel is oddly specific. New Year’s Eve 2016: a gunman dressed as Santa Claus attacked a nightclub in Istanbul. Near the attack were several undercover police officers also dressed as Santa Claus. In 2000 AD, Dredd donned the famous red robe and white beard to catch a group of robbers dressed as Saint Nick. Dredd’s story ends on a somewhat happier note, with the lead robber (Fatt Blatt) murdered by a sniper. Unfortunately, the Istanbul shooter was able to kill nearly 40 people.

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Futsie: This one hasn’t quite pierced our reality yet, but we’re starting to see the first signs. In the Dredd universe, there is a mental condition known as “Futsie” or “Future Shock.” Victims of this illness cannot handle living in the stressful conditions of the 22nd century, which usually causes them to embark on a killing spree. In reality, emerging research suggests that our brains are rewiring themselves in response to 21st century technology.

At this time, I would point to two examples. The first is phantom vibration syndrome, a feeling that your phone has buzzed, even if it is not in your pocket. The validation that comes with new technologies is causing our brains to create false alarms.It’s an interesting subject and worth a look at the source.

Second, I would look to studies on social media usage and depression. One study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that obsession with social media usage is linked to depression. Another study suggests that after a certain number of social media friends, your enjoyment quickly declines. This relates to Dunbar’s number, a theory that human mental capacity is limited to roughly 150 social relations. Initial research suggests that there is a rising possibility of depression as humans continue to expand their social structures through substantial virtual interaction. This, in one way or another is a kind of trauma that would not be possible without future technology. Therefore in some small way it seems to be the start of future shock or futsie.

It’s important to remember that this research is in its infancy, but it still represents a disturbing trend.

Source: Phantom Vibration

Source: Social Media Depression

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Gainers and Feeders: Although Fat Acceptance was mentioned in “Dredd Predicts the Future: Part 1,” this is a little different. “Two Ton” Tony Tubbs appeared in 2000 AD on October 19, 1985. At that time, having a character obsessed with gaining weight was a joke. Indeed, the fatties were often used for humor. At one point in Dredd’s history, fatties hijacked a food convoy by jumping from a cliff and crushing the trucks beneath their bulk. 31 years later, gainers and feeders are a real life trend and relationship status.

As you may imagine, the gainer is someone who is overfed for the purpose of gaining weight. The feeder provides the food. Though not hugely prevalent, this trend has launched web shows, documentaries, and even a dating site exclusively for gainers. Regardless of your stance on the trend, it is interesting to see how some couples display affection in a manner that was originally perceived as a form of dark comedy.

How else has Judge Dredd predicted the future? Tell us in the comments!

Judge Dredd Predicts the Future: Part 1

1704131-dreddFor almost 40 years, 2000 AD has provided high concept (and often silly) post-apocalyptic sci-fi with Judge Dredd. 2000 AD writers have always been ahead of the curve on technological and social change. Looking at the series as a whole, it is easy to se where our own world has crossed into that of Mega-City One. With over 2000 Judge Dredd stories, it is no surprise that some of them have overlapped with reality, but it is still fun to observe and dissect the parallels. For this series, we will periodically look at three different Judge Dredd stories and their real life counterparts.

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Dave the Orangutan: Unhappy with the election process in Mega-City One, citizens formed a populist movement in one of Mega-City One’s low level bars. Their candidate was Dave, an orangutan cared for by Citizen Billy Smart. Despite being unable to speak English or sign his name, Dave was able to run for Mayor simply because there was no law against it. Dave won by a landslide, capturing the hearts and minds of the citizens (generally as a joke to make up for the awful candidates). Dredd himself said it was a good thing and proof that democracy was a failed experiment (something that is revisited in Judge Dredd: America). Regardless of your stance on Donald Trump, the parallel is clear. An orange faced politician rises to fame through a populist movement and ends up elected.

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Some Mega-City One Credits from Dredd 3D

Universal Basic Income: Unemployment in Mega-City One hovers between 96-99%, based on what percentage of the population has been vaporized/executed/eaten alive throughout a given year’s storyline. Robots have replaced almost all human jobs. Given a drawing or writing sample, a robot can perfectly (and legally) duplicate creative content. In short, this means that the only way to become successful in Mega-City One is to either get on TV or become an entrepreneur. Common citizens rely on an allowance from the Justice Department to buy food, pay rent, and purchase other luxuries. Unfortunately, this means that citizens are often bored, and therefore more prone to crime just to break up the monotony.  As real life automatization of labor increases, billionaires and a few world governments alike have been pushing for a guaranteed income given to all citizens.

fatFat Acceptance: The Fatties actually got me into Judge Dredd. I was intrigued by their belly wheels and the small food boxes they have around their necks. I often find that a single interesting idea is enough to get me hooked on a franchise (Servitors for Warhammer 40k). Fatties first appeared shortly after the Apocalypse War. Due to a nuclear war, food was severely limited in Mega-City One, yet there were bored citizens who had made a hobby (and even a game show) out of eating as much as possible.

The Justice Department promptly responded by putting all the fatties in apartments blocks where chefs accounted for every calorie they ate. Citizens could come and go any time they wanted, so long as they were under a certain weight.

Although the real fat acceptance movement has never been so divisive on either side, seeing the iconic “fat fathers for justice” panel from Judge Dredd vs The Fatties brings up some clear parallels. Some of the signs in the panel read “BIG IS BEAUTIFUL” and “FAT PRIDE.” Although this was likely a parody at the time the comic was written, those two phrases have become actual slogans of the fat acceptance movement.

 

If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to look at Judge Dredd Predicts the Future: Part 2!

An Introduction to Judge Dredd

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Judge Dredd. He’s the only comic book hero I truly enjoy. From humble beginnings in the pages of 2000 AD to movies and even video games, Judge Dredd has been a cultural icon of law and order for nearly 40 years. Whether it be on the streets of Mega-City One, the radioactive wastelands of the Cursed Earth, or even deep space, Judge Dredd not only upholds the law, he is the law.

Concept

Getting into Judge Dredd can be daunting for some. The character has a lot of history and ages in real time. The first issue of Judge Dredd takes place in the year 2099. Nuclear war has crippled the Earth, leaving endless deserts populated by hideous mutants while surviving Humans have been resigned to a handful of walled Mega-Cities.
A single Mega-City can stretch hundreds of miles and usually has a population in the hundreds of millions. Manual labor in these cities has been widely replaced by robots, leaving the unemployment rate anywhere between 96%-99%. Massive unemployment has caused many citizens to turn to crime. In a single day, there may be thousands of crimes in a single district.

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The Judges are all that stands in the way of complete lawlessness.They are judge, jury, and executioner. Of all the Judges, one has proven himself time and time again as not only an exemplification of the law, but a hero of Mega-City One. He is Judge Dredd.

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For almost 40 years, Judge Dredd has dealt with: robot uprisings, multiple genocides, mutant children, psychic horrors from parallel dimensions, werewolves, zombies, aliens, and he’s even been bodyguard to an Orangutan. Through all of that, Judge Dredd has maintained a stern persona. He is the epitome of the “lawful neutral” archetype. Dredd is the law and the law is his life, but the Judge is not “lawful stupid”, he focuses on the most important crime at hand, but still deals with minor infractions during a slow day.

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Despite hist reputation for being rugged and ruthless, Dredd occasionally reveals his softer side. The Judge has a niece (daughter of his evil twin) who he shows more compassion for than anyone else. Although Dredd is supposed to uphold the law completely, he has occasionally fought against the Justice Department whenever it strays too far or refuses to use common sense.

One of the long ongoing jokes in the series is that Dredd’s face is never shown. The Judge has removed his helmet several times throughout the series, but his face is always hidden or changed beyond recognition.

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Judge Dredd is post-nuclear, but that is merely the backdrop.

Fun

Reading Judge Dredd is fun. The world is filled with interesting super-science, silly fashion trends, great action, and funny social commentary.Interestingly enough, Judge Dredd has correctly predicted the future on several occasions (sugar tax, fat acceptance, Olympic blood doping, etc). Despite a mostly unchanged titular character, the series has stayed fresh for over 40 years. When you open a copy of 2000 AD or one of the Judge Dredd Case Files, you never know what you’re going to get. One week it may be an epidemic of fatties stealing food, another it may be a second nuclear war or robot vampires. No matter what,  Judge Dredd’s adventures are always entertaining.
As 2000 AD releases their 2000th issue, I only hope that old Joe Dredd still has a few more years on the streets of Mega-City One.

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