This past September, The Jetsons turned 50. The big question we have for George Jetson is, “Are we there yet?” We have face-to-face video chatting, we have the robot vacuums, we have jobs that become more and more centered around inputting information with keys, and thanks to the piece of work (in vision and name) known as the Terrafugia, we are nearly hovering off to our skyhouse apartment complexes (which Korea and China happen to not be too far away from).
With the year 2062 (the year of The Jetsons) just under 50 years away, we are well on our way to completing the whole Jetsons world to a T. But, no matter how much we emulate the technology of The Jetsons, the show will somehow always remain a show about the future.
There is something of an enigma when it comes to lasting art that is set in the future: it never becomes a reality. Take the case of George Orwell’s 1984, a novel that reached its prophetic year a long time ago. We are always using that novel to illustrate somewhere we are not far from being. The same goes for Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Both of these novels present a vision that is just out of fruition. We are nearly living in those times, but are never quite there.
Or take the case of Star Wars that took place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” The story might seem like something fantastical, or somehow futuristic, and even when CNN makes such a ridiculous breakthrough with their own Jessica Yellin “help me Obi-wan Kenobi” interview, we still feel like the stuff of Star Wars is the stuff of the “future.”
And to say that we are living in the times of Star Trek (even if we are close in many ways) would probably upset trekkies or trekkers in some way. But I don’t think it would bother a trekkist. Dystopian vision or utopian vision aside, the future across all artistic mediums will always be close, but never at hand.
So let’s get back to the 50-year-old Jetsons (created in 1962) at the halfway point to reaching their year of existence in the real world. While George Jetson and the gang might be mostly using technology that has come into everyday use such as flat screen televisions, nanotechnology, and tanning beds we are still left looking to The Jetsons as a vision of the future because that was its artistic intention. The Jetsons will never be a show about modern time because it exists only as a dream and the products and “futuristic” technology that is used in the show will always be seen as something from the future.
We are living in the times between for The Jetsons. While we are still short of something that will make us have to abandon our homes on the ground and live in the sky, we are fulfilling the dream of The Jetsons in most ways. But, like all visions of the future, it will remain just that. Even if we create and use everything that The Jetsons use, we will always see them as the family of the future. They are a dream of things to come that will somehow never quite come.
Any medium of art that captures a picture of the future that is sustaining will always remain something that is out of reach in the “real world.” The Jetsons is a paradox in that no matter how much our world resembles their world, it will never be one in the same. The Jetsons are and always will be a future that will never quite arrive.