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4 Pop Culture Predictions from the Past About 2013: Graded

#2. The Postman

Warner Bros.

The Postman is one of two Kevin Costner movies set in a post-apocalyptic throwback world (the other being Waterworld). A non-specific nuclear war occurs at some point between 1997, when the movie was written, and 2013, when the movie was set, and people are forced to ride around on horseback and relearn how to be shitty to each other all over again. Kevin Costner travels around the world trading performances of Shakespeare's plays for food and water. When that stops working, he decides to become a postman. He ends up pissing off some evil ruling faction because he's delivering too much mail (or he's delivering the mail too good, I can't quite remember), and a mini war breaks out.

Warner Bros.
"Looks like I just became the postmaster general." -line that is sorely missing from this film

Also, Costner ends up meeting another character played by Tom Petty, and while it's never explicitly said that Tom Petty is playing "Tom Petty," he is playing someone who looks and sounds like Tom Petty and who is a celebrity who was "famous once before." And Tom Petty is without question the Tom Pettiest-looking motherfucker we have, so he was probably playing Tom Petty. So this movie assumes that even though a nuclear war wiped out most of humanity, Tom Petty survived, and we still respect him very much.

What They Got Right

One of the characters is named "Ford Lincoln-Mercury." That's absurd, but I don't see how that name is in any way different from Miley, Jaden, North, or Brooklyn, so I'm forced to conclude that the screenwriter of The Postman is a genius.

Warner Bros.
"Guess where I was conceived! Come on, guess!"

In 1997's The Postman, a person who looks like Tom Petty is inexplicably still alive. In 2013, Tom Petty is ALSO still alive, even though he is largely ratlike in mannerisms and appearance. That's two for two, The Postman.

What They Got Wrong

The biggest difference is in the amount of respect that everyone in that movie shows for postmen. It's such a sacred job there, almost akin to being a reverend or something. Meanwhile, I would personally describe my relationship with my postman as "I couldn't pick him out of a lineup if you had a gun shoved down my throat." And I'm not alone. The only major postal development of 2013 in real America was when the U.S. Postal Service, facing budgetary concerns (and out of a passive-aggressive desire to make the American people suffer for opting to use email instead of snail mail), planned to stop delivering mail on Saturdays. And what did the public at large do? Did we respect their wishes, holding them up as important, letter-wielding saviors, like The Postman would suggest? No, of course not. The Postal Service said, "We're not delivering on Saturday anymore because you don't appreciate us," and we said, "Hey, fuck you, you'll deliver mail whenever we say." And they did. We won, because we were dicks, and we don't care what the post office wants.

#1. An Episode of Rocko's Modern Life

Nickelodeon

Rocko's Modern Life is a '90s cartoon about a wallaby and his friends, a cow and a turtle. One episode titled "Future Schlock" is set in 2013 and depicts a world where cars can fly, dogs have jet packs, and bananas have gone extinct.

Edible bananas are extinct, that is. There IS a superior race of sophisticated talking bananas. They've mastered space travel and visit Earth to retrieve their missing queen, which was left in a refrigerator for almost 20 years. It probably sounds like I'm leaving out some crucial plot points, but I swear I'm not. Nickelodeon cartoons in the '90s were fucking insane.

Nickelodeon
The resolution is that an elderly Bighead is arrested by an undercover monkey astronaut/space cop and put on trial by a sentient banana legal system for the crime of bananapping their monarch. This is happens in 30 seconds.

What They Got Right

It's not just bananas that are scarce in O-Town's future: Virtually all plant life and vegetation have been wiped out. We also see Rocko's old house, which has since been abandoned, boarded up, and left to decay.

Nickelodeon

In this way, Rocko's 2013 reflects our 2013 more accurately than any other entry on this list. The writers, sensing the looming threat of global warming even back in the '90s, depicted a future with virtually no plant life and a total lack of natural resources. The inclusion of the abandoned and boarded-up house mirrors the growing problem of "zombie neighborhoods" that currently plagues our neighborhoods, where homeowners, feeling the impact of the 2008 economic collapse, flee their houses, turning once-thriving suburbs into ghost towns. Truly the writers of Rocko's Modern Life knew how bleak the future looked.

What They Got Wrong

According to my extensive research, we're still about six months away from having dog jet packs available on the commercial market.


Daniel O'Brien is Cracked's head writer and creative director of video (ladies) and the author of the upcoming book How to Fight Presidents, which you can preorder right here.

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