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  1.  (10371.21)
    Something tells me Trent Reznor will be remembered in some fashion, though it may not be as we know him today. The Trent of today is far different than the Trent of the 90s, and as he continues to evolve, I wouldn't be suprised that he doesn't have some lasting influence into the future.

    And I'm not even a Trent fanboy.
  2.  (10371.22)
    I've been thinking about how much of stuff that are well known cultural canon nowadays are from the 60's - songs, books, movies, TV-series', stuff like that - and which products of our time (let's define it as created between 2000-2011) will survive to be some sort of cultural mainstream 'till 2060.

    Hmmm. I've been thinking about this, and I've started questioning the assumption within the question itself.

    I think that a "cultural mainstream" is something which is formed when a small number of parties control information flow. So when you have a small number (comparative to the population) of TV stations, Radio, Newspapers etc then there is a limit on the breadth of culture that is transmitted, especially in a market economy where concentrating on the "big head" is far more profitable than the "long tail" (which is, of course, a vicious circle).

    The "mainstream" media are still hugely dominant, but the internet is starting to provide an alternative to the dominance of the media, and democratise the information flow. If, by 2060, this change has advanced to such a point that there is no "mainstream media" then I don't think there'll be a cultural mainstream but rather a "cultural ocean". It'll have currents and tides, but it would be far wider and less exclusive, allowing things to remain in the public consciousness that would otherwise disappear.

    (Apologies for over-thinking a fun question!)
  3.  (10371.23)
    manglr & lazarus:

    You're hitting one nail of the issue squarely in the head. Even now it's starting to be questionable how much a "cultural mainstream" exists, since the selection, types of media and ease of publishing has exploded so insanely in the last decade or two, and a big chunk of it is already out of the hands of traditional PR machines. In my opinion this doesn't make the original question invalid, though. There has to be certain venues of intersecting common ground, which can be, for a lack of a better term, called "cultural mainstream".

    Christ, I just realized today that A Fistful of Dollar, For a Few Dollar's More and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly are made in the 60's...
  4.  (10371.24)
    It's also worth considering the academic side of things. I mean, how many people have read Proust? Or Finnegan's Wake? And yet those are works that have been preserved largely, I think, because scholars have preserved them. Scholarship in pop areas is growing pretty rapidly, especially as the makers of new media decide to start arguing for the artistic value of their work. I think there are a number of games that will stick around, even if largely unplayed, simply due to an academic preservation.

    Ditto with comics. Krazy Kat is still around partly because it's absolutely fucking brilliant and partly because people interested in comics as an art form have preserved its legacy, despite the fact that most of the general public probably isn't particularly familiar with it.

    The weird thing about this, though, is that academia is also becoming democratized in a lot of ways. Comics and games scholars seem to mostly be independent, self-taught web writers. This says to me that it'll be extremely difficult to predict what works will be sort of selected for preservation by the hivemind. I mean, any of us could be actively involved and successful in keeping different works in the academic--if not the public--consciousness. So, yeah, to go off of the other discussion above, it's quite possible that the academic canon will become a similar cultural ocean. I'm willing to bet that even more traditionally static fields like literary criticism and art history will start to break up into a more liquid state.

    I think these might be a few works that might stick around in the academic consciousness due either to their artistic successes or their cultural significance:

    Neon Genesis Evangelion
    Bioshock (which I haven't played, but seems to be something people point to in Games As Art discussion)
    Mass Effect (ditto)
    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
    Harry Potter
    Twilight (if only in a "Why on earth did this happen?" sort of way)
    Lady Gaga
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2011
    Eva is pretty much a given. Once you've seen it, you can see it's DNA running through almost everything that came after it. And not just in Anime.

    I guess in the same light, The Simpsons (although that's been around a lot longer).
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2011
    I'd like to second the notion that the Discworld series will stand the test of time. I think the lens through which he presents the world will be both relevant and revealing for readers in the future.
    I've been wracking my brains for musical artists or albums that may be remembered widely. Most of the albums off the top of my head seem to be from the nineties, perhaps because they've already shown some staying power. I was thinking of Radiohead and perhaps Portishead with Dummy among others.
    edit-I've just noticed that 'off the top of my head' came two groups with"head" in their names, I'm no longer sure I can trust my brain.
    I'd love to think that Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle will grow to be considered the classic that I already believe it to be but considering its sheer size I can understand it never reaching the wider audience we're discussing.
    I also have a naive hope that the current reawakening of a politically aware protest movement may be the beginnings of a watershed moment bringing about a profound and lasting change in worldwide cultural thinking but then, my brain is demonstrably addled by the years of drug use!
  5.  (10371.27)
    Hm, at the very least, I suspect that Snow Crash might make its way into the literary canon as Brave New World has. Heck, if English teachers can ask, "Do we have a 1984 world or a Brave New World er... world?" surely "Do we have a Snow Crash world?" can be added to the list.
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2011 edited
    (*edit I misread the question, missed the part about modern meaning designed this decade. OH WELL HAVE A HISTORY LESSON. My items are part of our modern culture but were designed already more than 50 years ago. They are living artifacts, and my argument is not just that they will still be known in 50 years, they will be thought of largely the same way as we do.)

    Two items most probably don't realize are cultural artifacts, but like a good car the straddle a line between the industrial and the mythological:

    The M1911 handgun and the Kalashnikov carbine (AK47)

    The M1911

    As the US Govt designation denotes, the M1911 was first manufactured and used in 1911. It was designed by prolific gunsmith John M. Browning and in its initial military trials could be fired until it got too hot to hold, dunked in water to cool off, and fired some more. 100 years old, it still looks attractive and modern. When you see a handgun in a movie that looks athletic and sexy, like Jolie's exotic custom Matchmaster in Wanted, it is often all the same gun, a design roughly as old as the Model T.

    It first appeared in movies in 1929. (It has probably also been the model for over 50% of the magazined handguns you have seen in American comics.) Here is a complete list of movie and TV appearances. Here is a clue for why it won't stop being a part of your culture:

    The Kalashnikov

    You probably are very aware of this gun. If unfamiliar of the purveyance of the AK47 and variants in worldwide conflict and the way it changed warfare there is a new book on it.

    In warfare the Kalashnikov is not going away. It answered the question of urban warfare and the question doesn't need to be reanswered. It forgives any amount of abuse and powder load unlike the American counterpart, the AR-15 (M16), which gave users virtual non-function in Vietnam for two years due to a change to over-powered powder in cartridge manufacture. It is famously easier to learn to use and maintain than any other rifle.

    It was the iPhone (or more like the PC) of automatic fire. Simply by being cheap and versatile, it made under-funded armies as able to consistently fire and strike the enemy as any super-power or imperial overlord*.

    In culture the Kalashnikov is not going to stop being the default prop and symbol for modern strife. The distinctive banana-magazine is embedded into our conception of warfare in the developing world. A complete list of uses of the AK47 in film and TV is here. For an idea of whether the Kalashnikov will still be the defining image of entire swathes of the collective unconscious, just do a Google image search on "Africa war." Or "Guerrilla Fighter", which brings you

    *The AK47 is the prototype automatic carbine, and the automatic carbine ideally solves the problems of both urban and guerrilla warfare. The automatic carbine has become so fundamental to human war that in this year's Libya conflict, wherein lines of arms distribution were never firmly settled, rifles and carbines were selling for three times as much as full size machine guns (this article is also by Chivers, author of the book on the Kalashnikov):
    This spring in eastern Libya, the prices for Kalashnikovs and FN FAL rifles crested at top-dollar war prices – as much as $2,500 for a rifle in good condition. [...] Weapons that are technically more powerful, including rocket-propelled grenades and PKM machine guns, have been costing $700 to $900, rebels said. [...] These weapons, objectively fearsome, can cost one-third the price of an assault rifle. Sometimes such weapons are even free, Mr. Alsharkasy said, “because many people do not know how to use them” and simply turn them over to the rebels.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2011
    At least one African country has an AK47 as part of their national flag.
    • CommentAuthorSusimur
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2011
    The division between academic memory and mainstream memory (or possibly active fandom memory, if we take the diversified media perspective) is a good point. Do people really "remember" Gormenghast, as anything other than a case example? If Song of Fire and Ice survives, I think that's what it'll be -- quite good in it's time, but it'll have fallen by the wayside to whatever contemporary author is doing the same thing with a more current slant.

    Discworld (third nomintion!) I suspect will survive time much like Austen has, and for the same reason: it's critique of it's own age dressed up as light funny reading. Not all the books will weather as well though -- the romances and humor will survive and make Lords and Ladies or Hogfather approachable to new audiences, but only scholars will laugh at Soul Music or Moving Pictures.

    For TV, Stargate. Started in 1997 but ran a full ten years, and the spinoffs are still knocking about. It'll be the thing people had on lunchboxes and t-shirts when they were kids 'cause their parents were fans. House MD might be another candidate - and I have nightmarish visions of Friends being last decade's Lucy Show.

    Games - Pokemon, GTA and Call of Duty have already been mentioned, WoW (if only because so many people will have grandparents who met while playing it). Possibly Guitar Hero and Sing Star, 'cause karaoke game parties. Scholars might remember Assassin's Creed and Bioshock, but I doubt mainstream or even fandom culture will.

    Music, comics... hmm.
  6.  (10371.31)
    Will the people of the future look back on our uses of pepper spray and water boarding as horrible, because they evolved past it, or quaint because they invented much worse?
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2011
    Thanks for the gun porn Brian.
    It got me thinking of what horrors from this decades' military industrial complex will have a bearing on future warfare.
    I'm thinking specifically of the rise of predator drone strikes and other such remote controlled weapon systems like those from the lovely people at Metal Storm
    While I agree that the AK47 and its descendants are likely to remain the weapon of choice for the rebels of the world, I think it will be used on an increasingly asymmetrical battlefield against an enemy who is physically in a different time zone.
    How will the future thank us for these advances?
    ok, enough with the guns now...
  7.  (10371.33) what extent has the fragmentation of media and popular tastemakers hamstrung the development of media sensations?
    On the one hand is the availability of so many more options in today's environment. This hit popular music in particular...if the Beatles (and presumably other top tier folks like Dylan, Elvis, The Stones, etc) are the benchmark of artistic longevity can any modern musician crossover enough to make that kind of lasting impact?
    I seriously doubt it. I'm seeing folks here saying that This or That will surely be remembered and referenced 50 years from now, but for some of them I don't know what you're talking about today. They simply aren't in my circle of attention. Fifty years ago, the 3 TV stations, the 10 radio stations, and the 8 cinema screens in town ensured that everyone was at least being exposed to the same stuff, because... what else was there to watch or listen to? And if you didn't see it or hear it, you heard people talking about it. So you knew about Elvis, whether you were into "rock and roll" music or not.

    But today... Is there any TV show that a majority of Americans watch, like they did I Love Lucy? If I don't own the console that your favorite game runs on, it effectively doesn't exist in my world. Heck, there's still a substantial segment of the population that doesn't own a console, which means that a game has to cross over into some other medium, or get news/buzz coverage outside of gaming, for them to know about it. In the past decade (give or take), that'd probably be GTA, Final Fantasy, and Angry Birds. Even if all of your friends know and love your favorite band, most people have never heard them. The fragmentation caused by cable TV around 20 years ago ain't nothin' compared to what's happened in the past 10 years.

    What passes for "shared culture" these days is literally the least-common-denominator stuff that can approaches "mass audience" status, regardless of quality. American Idol. Whatshername Kardashian. Twilight will be remembered fondly in 50 years.

    In any case, I think we're too close to predict things "of today" that will be classics. But if we're permitted to go back a little farther, last week I saw a preview (literally) of the emerging list of classic films from the past few decades. The preview consisted of trailers shown before Hugo, of three films which are being converted into 3D for theatrical re-release: Beauty and the Beast, Titanic, and The Phantom Menace.
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2011
    On video games, I highly doubt that games will be remembered at all for story, because story in video games is not anywhere near being at the point it could be. BioShock could be the exception to this rule, as it popularized it's type more than ever before and will likely be looked upon as a grandfather of the deep, rich story-based games of the future. Rather, I believe games will be remembered for gameplay, as it has been in the past. Video games aren't in the eyes of the masses as much as they one day will be, so many video games that don't necessarily have a significant amount of cultural relevancy outside of those who play video games will emerge as culturally relevant once it really becomes a household activity. However, I imagine games that are in the public eye now, such as Angry Birds, will lose their relevancy in a couple years when everyone moves on to the next thing. Unlike Minecraft, which I imagine is going to expand for many years to come.
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2011 edited
    Are we talking about things that will remain in the Global collective memory? It's just that I cannot for a second think that very much of the West's recent 'cultural' ouptut will stand both the test of time, and a shift in the World's cultural polarity towards the East. To pick up on one particularly puzzling (to me, at least) suggestion, just how many Chinese fans does Trent Reznor have? That is a genuine question, he may indeed be massive in Guangdong province for all I know.

    Of course there are many films, games and music that will remain popular through either long term fan-interest (but only among the self identifying members of that particular thing's fandom) or as hipster retro fads - 18 year old Azerbaijani Witch House revivalists for instance, Nigerian cyberpunks or Mongolian Noughties' Console Game fanatics.

    I basically agree with what Jason said above, that Jersey Shore/American Idol/X-Factor/tabloid celebrities will be among the few Western things to be remain in the global collective memory a few decades down the line, perhaps only as a sad reminder of the once-powerful/rich West's addiction to pointless consumerism...
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2011
    Videogames. Oh, videogames. Whether we want to admit it, the games that are going to be most remembered from the past 5 years are the brown-grey shooters. They defined the industry and continue to, and will for another couple years before they go really out of style.

    But, somehow, everyone's left off Valve. Portal, Half-Life and Team Fortress 2, and probably less Left 4 Dead, have such incredible staying power they can't be ignored. Sure, part of the reason they're still around is that Valve owns and operates the best digital distribution option for PC games, but they're available on multiple platforms, and you can take any sensibility for games and chances are they will enjoy at least one of them. Hell, my ex-girlfriend learned how to play FPS's just to play Portal after I showed it to her. She had previously not gotten too far past Mario 3.

    Interestingly, I think that Farmville and the like will be wholly forgotten, if they're not already. They make a ton of money and take a ton of time, but they're occupations for non-serious game players, and therefore will disintigrate in the minds of people after they're gone. People will be replaying Half-Life 2 like they do Zelda and similar long-staying series.

    Movies is a sad topic. Classic films from every other decade are mostly actually good, whereas I feel that "highest grossing" is going to mean most memorable. While I like a few of those films, things like Avatar and Transformers can burn in fire forever and ever.

    That's my two bits for now.
    • CommentAuthorTimbo
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2011 edited
    Can't help but think that much of our current 'culture' is entirely disposable.

    Music from the 50's and 60's persists because (arguably) it is very good music and was playable on (carefully kept vinyl) for decades after. It also coincided with the baby boom and was passed in to mainstream culture by the baby boomers.

    Our rampant consumerism menas that CDs will be gone soon posssibly to be follow by print books. Consoles change every few years. Most people will not have a PS3 or Xbox kicking about in the next 15 years on which to revisit any games.

    Genuinely cannot think of one group or item off the top of my head that will hold the same sway as the Beatles or the TV did from their relevant decades.
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2011
    @Timbo - totally agree with you about the baby-boomers. After all I'd guess that a good deal of the current mainstream media is still owned/controlled by people from that era.
    And I also agree with you about the vidya games of today too - they'll only be played/remembered/relevant for as long as the tech is around to play them on. No one will be dusting off a fifty year old console in order to play any of the Call of Duty games..
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2011
    I wouldn't say *no one* will want to retro game in the future. But it'll be no bigger a community than the current retro gaming community is.
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2011
    I imagine that most retro-gaming will be done much like it is now: through emulators.