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My Take

Soylent Green

Mark McGee
Posted 1/15/22

I have always believed movies and television prepare us for the future in many ways, some of them not very comforting.  

Often the truth of the predictions is downright freaky.

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My Take

Soylent Green

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I have always believed movies and television prepare us for the future in many ways, some of them not very comforting.  

Often the truth of the predictions is downright freaky. The most popular show in the late 1960s was the sketch comedy “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In”. In the segment called “News of the Future” the show’s writers in 1969 predicted Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, would be the President of the United States in 1988. Actually, he started his first term in 1981. Even creepier the show’s writers also said in the “News of the Future” segment, again in 1969, that the Berlin Wall would be torn down in 1989. They got that one right down to the year. Reagan was the one who urged the collapse.  

More often than not, the predictions are wrong. John Carpenter’s vision of New York City becoming a federal prison in the movie “Escape from New York” has never happened, though the crime rate in the “Big Apple” makes it appear the criminals have taken over. It is Likewise Carpenter’s “Escape from L.A.”, another prison scenario, hasn’t yet happened.  

But back in 1973 the film “Soylent Green” showed a life set in 2022 that rings true in many ways. The film, starring Charlton Heston, is based on a novel by Harry Harrison. In the United States in the film overpopulation and climate change are issues as well as people wearing masks in a futile attempt to overcome bad air so thick it looks like a fog.  

Farms are protected by walls and armed security. Trees grow only in glassroofed enclosures. Food is scarce. Inflation has driven up prices of produce, meat, milk and food in general in the present day United States. In the movie real food is a luxury only the top one percent can afford with a jar of strawberry jam sells for $150 in the movie and a steak as an almost unattainable item regardless of price.  

Hence, the entrance of soylent green, a processed food from plankton from the oceans. Produced by the Soylent company, soylent green is touted as a top shelf food filled with nutrition. There are other colors, but green is the most popular and is only available one day a week. And there is never enough which results in food riots. People are dispersed violently by police using scoopers and dump trucks, somewhat similar to the way rioters are dispersed today in terms of violence.  

The oceans are dying and even plankton is decimated. Heston’s character reveals the truth of the secret ingredient when he proclaims after being shot at the end of the film “soylent green is made of people.”  

If you want soylent green, minus the secret ingredient used in the movie, it is available online and at some chain food stores.  

Think what you will about climate change, but in the movie the temperature never drops below 90 degrees. A shower or bath is an ultimate luxury as clean water is scarce. We have just had one of the hottest Decembers ever and despite our recent snows the overall temperature of the country appears to be climbing to new heat averages.  

Food and water are becoming scarcer as in the movie. Crime is not as rampant as it is depicted in the film, but we are becoming a more violent and lawless nation on a daily basis.  

Life is so desperate for so many in the film that people can choose to go to facilities where they can choose to die. That isn’t possible in the United States, but it is an option available in some countries.  

Due to the 2022 setting of the film, it is receiving a lot of analysis in media across the nation. While “Soylent Green” gets some things right, let us all hope and pray we never get to the point of desolation depicted in the movie.

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