Culture: Current Events Impacting Art

I’ve read of people watching movies that were made Before (this pandemic), who were uncomfortable with people standing close together. They’d said that crowd scenes and train stations and parties all seem so… weird, now that we are in our current situation. Dangerous. Cringe-inducing.

I’ve looked at advertisements for resorts that are updating their photos: instead of showing bars and pools with young models distributed around them, the spaces are empty. The sunshine-bathed lounge chairs are well spaced. The tables in the bars are at least ten feet apart. Spaciousness is suddenly the essence of luxury. The sanitation protocols of hotels are near the top of the list of amenities.

Designers are proposing conceptual projects to accommodate dining without sharing air, beach resorts with translucent walled spaces (and without mingling), and similar barrier-enforced-social-distancing scenarios…

The new reality is sinking in, and it is changing how we see things. It is changing advertising. It will soon change art.

I keep thinking of this interview with William Gibson:

William Gibson: ‘I was losing a sense of how weird the real world was’

In 2016, William Gibson was a third of the way through his new novel when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. “I woke up the day after that and I looked at the manuscript and the world in which the novel was set – a contemporary novel set in San Francisco – and I realised that that world no longer existed.

He had to start his novel over, because his near-future novel was no longer plausible – reality had shifted too strangely to sustain it. (The re-write turned out brilliantly – my review is one of the first posts on this blog.)

Meanwhile, I’m contemplating my own fiction, and am alarmed that some of my dystopian novellas are becoming plausible. My dystopias are pretty damned dystopian (I was hoping dystopic was a word). This is not a good thing.

I told someone that science fiction, even the grim sort, is innately optimistic. When they asked why, I told them that science fiction assumes humans have a future.

A human future is not guaranteed.

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