By: Jay Dyer
Cheesy 80s dystopian films constitute some of the best cinematic predictive programming, and 1987’s The Running Man is a fine specimen. Full of Schawrzenegger’s grunts and “aagghhhs” (as opposed to a script), even Bloodsport has a contender for wooden acting and silly fight choreography with Running Man. Nevertheless, Stephen King’s novel of the same name was transformed into an accurate description of where the U.S. is headed in full Hunger Games fashion: Although many dystopian novels and the films depict the great gladiatorial games scenario, but The Running Man has some unique insights that are worth highlighting.
“By 2017, the world economy has collapsed. Food, natural resources and oil are in short supply. A police state, divided into paramilitary zones, rules with an iron hand. Television is controlled by the state and a sadistic game show called “The Running Man” has become the most popular show in history. All art, music and communications are censored. No dissent is tolerated and yet a small resistance movement has managed to survive underground.”
From the outset, The Running Man projects a very likely near future. While the world economy may not globally collapse by 2017, as long as the stated plans to move towards an SDR-backed IMF plan continue, the older dollar system will fold. Economists have projected this transition for some years, but when this will occur is anyone’s guess. When it does, the partitioning of the various continents into trading unions (which is already long in process) will lead to the global federation of unions, headed by IMF, World Bank, and BIS. In the U.S., the FEMA Zones will likely constitute the new regions, precisely as our film projects, with a heavy-handed federal force quelling dissent – all of which is predicted with precision accuracy.
A complete panoptic society has been installed, where all of life is monitored, from cradle to grave. In order to keep the masses satiated, the old “bread and circuses” trick of bloody, gladiatorial spectacle has been reintroduced, mirroring the devaluation of human life. One need only turn on the television in our day to see the gladiatorial spectacle of trash that has evolved since the 80s, where transvestites are accounted heroes, morons compete in the most extreme forms of lunacy, and the latest “idol” is trotted out to record some pop song that will be forgotten in a few months. Make no mistake about it, we are only a few years away from the return of actual gladiatorial games and bloodletting, as Hunger Games style competitions will eventually exist.
And speaking of Hunger Games, boy does its plot resemble The Running Man, yet instead of Jennifer Lawrence in spandex tights, we’ll have to settle for Arnold and Yaphet Kotto. I might also add that the 80s were completely convinced that the fullest extent of the future’s technological advances, profound as they may be, never extend beyond Atari level screen displays. Setting aside spandex and Space Invaders, another surprising element worth noting is the film’s depiction of crowd control weaponry. Still retaining its class structure, the future megacity of The Running Man confines its classes to various zones, where enforced labor is conducted. Step outside that zone, and your RFID necklace explodes your noggin – something the deluded bureaucrats of our day have actually suggested, as well as micro-chipping. In fact, just as in the film, NBC reported a projection for 2017:
Another fascinating foresight is reality TV. Far before MTV’s The Real World, The Running Man displays a society that has become obsessed with cheaply-made “reality” television that is explained in the film as “brainwashing.” While reality TV may have come about for its low-cost efficiency, the possibility of its deeper psy op and social engineering possibilities cannot be overlooked. As with social media, reality television prepared the way for the mass consciousness to accept the idea that their own thoughts and lives were fantastically important, especially if you do nothing. Living out their dreams through the proxy of the virtual world, the “stars” of reality TV seemed to be regular Joes and soccer moms that won some special “lottery” to become the next big thing.
As occurs often in dystopian fiction, the “lottery” concept cannot be overlooked since this trick of the golden ticket, just like the scam of the various cash lotteries in most states, is a state-supported myth that dupes the mass. Reality TV, like the lottery, holds out the carrot stick of wealth and fame for being and doing nothing – the ultimate scam that ensnares the lethargic denizens of refuse programming. Just as Richards (Schwarzenegger) discovers, the golden ticket of fame and stardom are not real, but in fact are controlled by a completely ruthless and maniacal corporate slave culture.
The Running Man thus exposes the Hollywood machine in its truest sense. As demonstrated in The Truman Show, the appeal to the narcissism of the ego’s desire to be an icon of reflected, mimetic glory is the trap of what I call the Serpentine Mirror. The result of this trap is the commodification of everything, including ones own being, as the trade off for imagined status will eventually lead to the complete transference of our identities to a digital Internet avatar (for example, watch Ari Folman’s The Congress). The title itself is indicative of the sense we are to feel as men on the verge of this great era of transition of the end of man – we should run. As Richards discovers, working in the system results in becoming a patsy for trying to do the right thing. Framed as a mass killer, Ben Richards is “chosen” to be the next victim of the Amerikan Gladiators.
Patterned after Soviet and Nazi governments, the police state of our film mandates that children and citizens report others for untoward thoughts or violations, even to the extent of wearing “unauthorized” clothing or possessing or distributing illegal art, along the lines of the East German historically-based film, The Lives of Others. All art and culture is tightly mandated by the state-controlled network, ICS, home of the one show everyone watches, The Running Man. Sound far-fetched? What if I told you the culture industry already exists, and that the state and the Hollywood corporate machine already work together as a symbiotic organism of culture destruction? The reality is, as readers of JaysAnalysis have seen now in hundreds of articles, the CIA and Hollywood are flip sides of the same coin. Movies and media are the new peep stones our shaman priests indoctrinate us with. (I must admit, the shows ICS advertises sound like a blast: “The Hate Boat,” “Climbing for Dollars,” and “Pain: American Style”).
The merger of the state and television news into “infotainment” is also presaged, as Ben Richards’ is set up as a lone gun mass shooter and plastered all over the network, and subsequently transformed into a “star” runner for ICS. As an added bonus, the film even has the “Infonet,” where Ben purchases a plane ticket online under the identity of his Hispanic love interest, Amber Mendez. Uniting with the ubiquitous hacker resistance, Ben and his hacker revolutionaries plan to use their placement in the show to hijack the satellite uplink to expose the show. The most revealing scene is the completely staged death of Ben that Damon concocts for ratings, since Ben has proven harder to kill than assumed. Wag the Dog revealed this same technique where a completely staged war is filmed on a sound stage. Here, Killian stages a bloody battle leading to the death of a CGI Richards. With this in mind, it becomes much more plausible how events like Sandy Hook or the Boston Bombing can incorporate such deception:
Although presented as minor 80s science fiction dystopia, The Running Man is far more accurate in its prediction that most would assume. From panopticism to false flags and staged killings, The Running Man is an accurate revelation of man’s obsession with the un-real. In reality, the “winners” of the Running Man are actually killed – just as many of the “winners” in our synthetic system end up broken, abused, exploited, drug-addicted and murdered. The brutalization and desensitization of the populace is a deep, psych warfare strategy, deployed for the destruction of western culture in particular, and ultimately of man himself. From the Fabians to the Frankfurt School “experts” who worked with the CIA and OSS, the disintegration and decay is not only happening at a rapid pace, it is revealed openly in films like The Running Man.
Damon Killian, the dastardly network head, explains that all he is doing is giving the people what they want – American’s love TV. They wean their kids on it.