Fantasy and sci-fi are bigger than ever right now. It took a long time, but society as a whole has embraced the nerd genres and come to accept that Star Wars and the Avengers are cool. We like superheroes, we like comic books and outer-space battles and wizards and orcs and guys who chop peoples' heads off with swords. The nerd genres are legit. Except for that My Little Pony shit. That's just creepy and weird.
The unaddressed issue with sci-fi and fantasy, however, is that everyone is someone. Fantasy takes what look like everyday schlubs and makes them heroes. Sci-fi is full of the same sorts of dashing champions who were at first maybe everyday Joes like you and me but rose to the occasion to defeat an alien armada or magically drop-kick a whole army of butt-faced trolls. These stories always focus on heroes, even when they set up a story with someone who is "clearly" not a hero from the get-go. So what happens to the people who really aren't heroes? What's life like on Coruscant for a cab driver? How does a cobbler in Rohan get by? Not as well as you might think, I'd wager.
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Tolkien created a rich and amazing world with his Lord of the Rings series and assorted companion books, and Peter Jackson brought them visually to life in a pretty intense and amazing way. If you get past the destructive elements of entire races of awful, man-eating beasts, Middle-Earth seems like a decent place at first glance. It's full of wonder and adventure and super sexy elf babes. Not too shabby, right?
The downside to Middle-Earth seems to be the fact that about 2,000 people live there, give or take. Maybe there's more, but you never see them anywhere. Rohan looks for all the world like an outdoor flea market -- how is that a major force of the human population? And Gondor looks visually stunning and all, but it also seems to be the size of that castle at Disney World. I don't know how many enslaved children run that thing, but it's not a noteworthy amount.
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Wait, why is Obama in this photo?
I'm not saying there's much wrong with living in a tiny world, and I have no doubt someone in the comments can quickly correct me with a footnote from The Silmarillion or some bullshit that indicates the population of Numenor used to be whatever they keep typing long after I've started drinking straight vodka. I'm just saying that Middle-Earth, in the films, seems really sparsely populated. And that means hooking up is an issue.
You see at the end that Sam gets that hot little hobbit lady he's always had his eye on, and that's great for him, but what happens to Frodo and Merry and Pippin? Are there any other hobbit women under the age of 60? And dwarfs are an entire race of people that seem to have no homes and no women at all. For all we know, there are literally just two dozen dwarfs in the world who once shared a woman between them. Why is that?
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"And my ax! 'member when I said that? Eh. I was on Sliders."
The fact is, if you're not an adventuring hero or some pompous elf who has the option to hop a boat to God knows where, there's not a lot going on in Middle-Earth worth living for. What the hell do the people in Rohan do all day? That was their capital city in the movie, right? It looked like depression shat itself on a country meadow during a rainstorm. And again, where are all the women? There were like five for the whole population. Middle-Earth is going to have some serious population issues with the lack of ladies around. The whole place makes China look like a suburban Tupperware party.
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The utopian future of Star Trek has a lot going for it. There's space travel, which has to be fun, machines that make food just by asking for it, holodecks that can recreate any reality, and green ladies you can safely have sex with. If all that was in the travel brochure for any place on Earth, we'd all go there right now.
The issues in Star Trek start when you try to reconcile human nature with the ideals Star Trek wants to represent. For instance, in the future of Earth, there is no money anymore. Everyone in the human part of the Star Trek universe works for the good of humanity. This in turn means there's a guy in Starfleet who has had to snake a toilet after some Andorian clogged it with a big ol' space turd, and that guy did it just because. Just because he chose to be the guy who snakes future shitters for the greater good of society.
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"Turds from a blue lady! Can you imagine!"
I appreciate the idea of an elevated society, and that really is where the fiction joins the science in Star Trek, but I think it suspends disbelief to an egregious point when we're expected to believe that people make the world run for no monetary gain. But believe it we must, and that means if you're not in Starfleet, flying through the galaxy and boning all these super sweet aliens, you could very well be a McFuture fry cook who works a shitty dead end job because you literally have nothing better to do with your time. Someone must be doing these jobs.
Ignoring the mundane and awful jobs, imagine being an artist in the future. You paint a masterpiece, a glorious vista the likes of which no one has ever seen before, the picture of pure beauty. So then what? Either you give it away, which is noble, or someone says, "Cool, can I hang that over my toilet?" and you agree, because that's what you do. You make art, and then people just have it after and maybe that gives you some notoriety, but you don't get anything to help pay for supplies. But that's OK, because you get your supplies for free, too. It's a circle of unfulfillment.
Thanks to the idea of a machine that can produce anything you want by asking for it, maybe the manufacturing industry as a whole, any industry that produces something, would be shut down to allow people to pursue more personal interests, but we've still seen plenty of times that bars and such exist in the future. So those people manning and maintaining these businesses just do it because? For shits and giggles? What kind of terrible childhood do the people of the future have to endure to make them want to clean up alien vomit for free after a night of partying in a bar that doesn't charge money?