Dystopian Utopias and Counterfics – Some Thoughts on the new Minority Report Trailer

Warning: The following contains a spoiler for the 2002 movie Minority Report. Just in case you still haven’t seen it yet.

Minority Report is getting a tv series based on the movie loosely adapted from the original story and we have a trailer to show for it:

Yeah, this is weird. Let’s talk about why.

Dystopian Utopias

The original movie by Steven Spielberg is in the ranks of the sleeper classics, that is, movies with topics more relevant now than when they were originally released. Science fiction dealing with contemporarily current trends is prone to this kind of thing, see Demolition Man for another example, if a less serious one.
The point of Minority Report was that the idea of predicting crime to prevent it is a bad idea. Not only is data bound to get misinterpreted sooner or later, you also create a host of prediction paradoxes. You know, when a future event turned out to be caused by your prediction in the first place? As happened in the original movie? Because that was the whole point of the story?
Because sometimes stuff tends to happen in circles, especially when time travel and/or precognition is involved. Much like the previous paragraph did.

That was 13 years ago and apparently Minority Report hit puberty right on cue. Now it wants to hear nothing of its parents’ values and always do the opposite. Either that or society has become a whole lot different with us starting to embrace the sort of constant surveillance and data precognition that comes with big data and that had us all horrified after 9/11 brought with it growing sacrifice of freedom in the name of security. One might say Minority Report is strong evidence how we all have been brainwashed into accepting a world that gets close to calling 1984 a utopian vision, rather than the dystopian one we used to think it is. And that idea kind of scares me.
It’s not the first time that happened, either. I’m getting a similar sensation when reading Brave New World, now sounding like every damn text on the evils of this thing called the internet and how it turns young ‘uns into brainless media zombies.
Maybe this is what dystopia is really good for: Giving us a glimpse how our thinking has changed. Few dystopias need to convince readers that bad stuff is bad. But looking at a dated dystopian tale, realizing it has turned into either our present or inches ever closer to a utopia in modern eyes, now there’s real value.


The other thing I want to talk about is adaptations.

In fan fiction, there is a couple of categories works can go into. I want to briefly talk about fix fic. This is when an author think another’s work broken in some way and goes about fixing it. In the best cases this results in stuff like Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars novels, filling gaps from the movies and other Star Wars novels in such a way that any errors and continuity hiccups get explained to make the overall world of the stories more believable. In the worst cases, an author completely misses the point of the original work and manages to „fix“ the story into being its complete opposite.

This seems to be what happened here: The makers of the series saw the movie and decided that it’s message is utter bull. So they created a series that (judging from the trailer) goes ahead to undo the movie’s events, showing viewers how awesome the world would be with precognitive people in police service around. This is not only the sequel undoing the original’s point, it’s the sequel turning around to slap the original in the face, telling it how stupid it supposedly is.
And that is something I have never before seen done on purpose, with the sole exception of Starship Troopers doing this to Heinlein’s novel (awesomely imho).


That was my thoughts on Minority Report I thought to write down because I didn’t see anybody else seeing it that way. What do you think? Am I reading to much into a trailer? Or is this a sign of our times?