The 1990 predictions for 2020 and the years surrounding it were bold and varied. The filmmakers of the time were rocking out to Nirvana, laughing along with Adam Sandler on SNL, and imagining that the next 20 years would absolutely bring about the apocalypse. Whether said apocalypse was caused by sentient AI, an abundance of virtual reality, or LA breaking off into the ocean, it seemed like everyone with a camera thought the next century would be bleak.
1990s future predictions weren't always accurate, but some past predictions of the future turned out to be surprisingly close. Now that these seemingly futuristic years are in the rearview, it's fun to look back and see how things didn't quite turn out as bad as many thought they would. Modern fashion isn't quite as ridiculous as some decades imagined, and the United States isn't a dystopian wasteland (yet).
- 1200 VOTESPhoto: TriStar Pictures
The internet was starting to gain widespread appeal in 1995, and it caused films like Johnny Mnemonic to speculate wildly about its impact on the culture at large. In the film, corporations control the world, and the internet drives society. With that said, sensitive data is no longer safe to send over the internet, so data is transferred by downloading files into human couriers. Johnny Mnemonic is the name of one such carrier who gave up his childhood memories to free up space for nearly 80 GB of storage.
Luckily, the current world is a lot lighter. Not only has the world not plunged into a technocratic dystopia, but even if it did, the human couriers would be able to carry at least a terabyte.
- Photo: Columbia Pictures
As video games inch closer to simulating reality, the odds humankind isn't already in a simulation have become increasingly low. According to famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, there's already "better than 50-50 odds" that all of reality is actually a sophisticated simulation. While this conversation has gained steam in recent years, the film The Thirteenth Floor was discussing it all the way back in 1999.
The Thirteenth Floor's protagonist discovers an incredibly rendered simulation of Los Angeles in 1937, where the simulated beings have no idea they are being simulated. Then, he himself discovers that the 1999 Los Angeles he lives in is also a simulation, and he is really from the 2020s. Pretty wild stuff, but definitely not out of the realm of possibility according to leading scientists.
- 3100 VOTESPhoto: Gramercy Pictures
The 1996 Pamela Anderson vehicle Barb Wire assumed a second American Civil War was bound to occur before the far-off year of 2017. Now, with that year firmly in the rearview, a war luckily didn't break out, but that doesn't stop some from seeing the prescient wisdom present in such a prediction.
In a 2016 article, GQ lamented the ways the film was correct in an article entitled "Barb Wire: The Terrible Pamela Anderson Movie That Accidentally Predicted the Future." The article talks about the divisive political atmosphere going into the 2016 election and compares that to the civil war in the film. Luckily, it never came to war, but the fact the nation's capital was involved in a domestic attack does lend some amount of credibility to Barb Wire's predictions.
- 474 VOTESPhoto: Savoy Pictures
No Escape, starring Ray Liotta, takes private prisons to the extreme. Instead of companies simply profiting off of the penal system, in No Escape, corporations view their prisoners as assets and use them as mercenaries.
It seems like the US government may have been worried about such a fate occurring, seeing how in 2021 (one year prior to when the film is set), President Joe Biden signed an executive order that ends the federal government's use of private prisons.