Why We Are Beyond Transmetropolitan’s Predictions, Part 2: Technology And Media

by Benjamin Hall

[Click here for Part 1 in this series. Also **Spoilers for the series Transmetropolitan!]
Last time, I ended things on the ideas that history is nothing but patterns and the future is wildly unpredictable. However, we can predict what the next patterns in history could be and afterwards foresee what certain possible futures might come next. Warren Ellis as the writer of the futuristic series Transmetropolitan had to look at the state of the world and extrapolate a near future setting. This means that Ellis could only extrapolate based on events before and during the years 1997-2002 (The years Transmetropolitan was being published). Therefore he had to look at things like media, technology, and the ways people use the two.

In the case of both, Ellis seems to have predicted how large chunks of humanity would become much more reliant on both, but especially in the case of technology. However, he did not predict the degree to which smartphones would become a staple of society. Yes, characters like Robert McX use Blackberry styled smartphones (in this case when confronting The Smiler) and there is talk of phone traits (think genetic micro smartphones), but Spider Jerusalem is still shown to use corded phones. Also, at one point in the latter issues of the series we see a futuristic payphone in a phone booth. This is something younger readers of Transmetropolitan may no longer get since it is extremely rare to see, or hear talk of, phone booths.

Yet while the prediction involving future use of Phone Booths did not come to pass, two things are starting to come about. One is the “makers” Spider Jerusalem, and the rest of this near-future society, uses to create items such as food and clothes. Makers are essentially just a future generation of a 3D Printer with the added ability to recycle trash into anything.
The second thing that is starting to happen is the development of “waterless” toilets. This relates to Transmetropolitan’s first bathroom scene due to the shower that Spider takes, removing the full amount of his Alan Moore-like mountain man hair. So by extension, Ellis somewhat predicted water not being used in bathrooms.
Ellis and regular artist Darick Robertson also put in several parodies of adult subject matter, mainly in the form of the running gag of the Sex Puppets (think a warped version of Sesame Street). This somewhat relates to the idea that various forms of media would have warped versions of themselves. Just look at shows like Robot Chicken or internet parody videos such as “Five Nights At Sesame Street.”
Finally, we have the prediction that demands for new content would speed up due to more reliance on technology and the internet becoming more complex. Just look at how adverts are now shown when you get gas in the United States Of America. Not to mention how we look for things most people are seeing as part of what’s “trending.”
Thus, we conclude this part with the idea that we are kind of becoming a real world version of the society of Transmetropolitan. Next time I will conclude this series by talking about socialization.

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