“Emotions. There oughta be a law against them.”
– Judge Dredd
Growing up my favorite comic book series was Judge Dredd. The stories were a perfect mixture of satire and violence with none of the soap opera antics that more mainstream comics frequently employ. Characters aged in real time, people died and never came back, and conflicts were resolved with bullets rather than lengthy debates about morality.
The fictional far future setting that the stories take place in is a lot closer to our reality than most of us realize.
Giant dinosaurs, sewer mutants, and undead horrors aside there’s a lot of “out there” content that’s started to become a reality. Here are just a few things that I’ve begun to notice:
There’s an older story where the obese citizens of Dredd’s city start protesting that they are oppressed. The story is meant to be satire and was published before This Is Thin Privilege was ever a thing. The “fatties,” as they’re called in the comics, have been around for decades. As one fan explained:
“Mega-City 1 is home to a wide variety of weirdos. Perhaps the most conspicuous are the “Fatties,” a subculture of people who pride themselves on being enormously obese. In fact, they are so large, they walk around with little unicycles to support their flabby bellies.”
In the Judge Dredd universe something like 80 percent of the population is unemployed. Automation combined with corporate greed have put the vast majority of people out of work. Because no one has “real jobs” people spend their days making art, practicing hobbies, and committing crime. Basically stuff you’d see if you visited a third world city.
Additionally, meme type culture is huge. While fads have always existed in the real world, they seem to have become a lot more prevalent in the past few years. The Harlem Shake, Gangnam Style, horse hats, gallon smashing, the knockout game and thousands of other meme activities have become huge in post great recession America. Since most of the country’s younger population is unemployed or underemployed these types of activities have been able to flourish.
All powerful legal system
In Judge Dredd all the lawmen, including Dredd himself, are fascists. The series reads like the thought police from 1984 fighting various monsters and crime syndicates. Police drones, electronic surveillance systems, and unquestionable lawmen were all in the series since the early 1970’s.
Long before the news was reporting on PRISM, cops shooting pet dogs, or Chris Dorner similar events were taking place within the pages of Judge Dredd. At the time they were all considered far fetched, something reserved just for science fiction stories.
Looking through my old collection of comics was really interesting. A lot of the content that was meant to be outlandish satire, thought never to occur in a sane society, has become real. Fat privilege, staggering unemployment, meme culture, and draconian police forces were the stuff of fiction. Now they’re starting to become facets of everyday life.