Documentary: Australia in the year 2020 (as envisaged in 1990)

This documentary from the late 80’s/early 90’s Australia offers fascinating insights into what the pre-internet world thought the new century i.e. right now would be like.

As a child I remember watching this TV show and pondering about what 202o would be like. It felt like a pipedream to me, as inconceivable as driving a moon rocket to work (like in the Jetsons).

I imagined getting automatically showered and dressed by a robot (like in the Jetsons) and that’s about as far as abstract thought went for me at the age of 9.

On discovering this documentary online now, the language used seems racist by today’s standards which is a shame, but also not surprising.

Documentary: Australia in the year 2020 (as envisaged in 1990)

But aside from that, the presenters seem be freakily accurate on some of their predictions.

They imagine that life in Australia the year 2020 will be peppered with economic problems stemming from the growth in population and immigration (whether these are perceived or actual problems remains to be seen).

Also there’s a distinct and overt message to “beware of the yellow peril”or in other words the wave of Asian migrants that came to Australia in the 70’s and 80’s. These concerns about Asian immigration have largely been surplanted by fear-mongered about Muslim migrants.

Interestingly, the documentary compares Melbourne’s (then) derelict docklands to a tech-business-lifestyle hub in Europe and outlines plans to turn this into a tech and business hub by 2020.

The site was a derelict maritime dockyard and then it became the site of some ripping good raves in the 90’s and 00’s. True to predictions, city planners did indeed convert the site from a maritime dockyard into its current status as business and residential hub (although a rather soulless and sterile part of the city, sadly).

The journalist makes a comment along the lines of ‘in 2020, migrants to Australia will be attracted by the lifestyle and environmental benefits of living here rather than simply economic factors. And foreigners will see Australia as a favourable place for migration”

The predictions about the unstable and precarious environmental situation in 2020 have all become more apparent. Which goes to show that environmental lobbyists have been saying the same thing for many decades about taking action to protect the environment, but it has historically fallen on deaf ears.

The ads are probably the most interesting aspect of this documentary. One that’s particularly intriguing is for American Express. It’s unsettling to see how the aesthetics, glamour and allure of yesteryear all conspired to woo people in a variety of different ways.

This was the age when television was truly king in terms of messaging, communication and advertising and that the two-way dialogue of the internet with a true plurality of voices was only still a dream. My how everything and yet paradoxically nothing has changed. 

I would love to know your thoughts after watching this…

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