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It makes the world go
round, some people got to have it and you can buy a new car, caviar – a four
star daydream. Sometimes however, value can be linked
far more closely to life and death than cool coins in your pocket. In honor of
the new sci-fi thriller In Time, in which actual time is the currency of the future,
Player Affinity will look at how "green" manifests itself in some other
1. Credits – As Seen in: Serenity/Total Recall/Star Trek
As the “world as we know it” goes beyond that world known as Earth and new colonies are erected and alien races discovered, the need for a harmonized currency arrives. Many space-based science-fiction adventures contain an overruling intergalactic federation that rules the plethora of planets, usually to the chagrin of a few rowdy outsiders who see their strict overlords as merely targets for plunder. Cult properties such as Joss Whedon’s Firefly (which then became Serenity on the big screen), Total Recall and Star Trek all utilize this means of wealth transfer. It may be the same as money, but let’s face it, it’s just cooler somehow.
2. Organs/Drugs – As Seen in: Repo! The Genetic Opera/Repo Men
A great number of future-set films explore the collapse of infrastructures many take for granted: police, utilities, the military and of course health care. In the bizarre dystopian, gory sci-fi musical Repo! The Genetic Opera, an epidemic resulting in the failure of organs leads the creation of a multi-billion dollar biotech company called GeneCo which provided for-profit organ transplantation but with the grizzly condition that they were able to even repossess defaulted organs. In addition, a drug called Zydrate becomes used prominently amongst the destitute lower class, changing the balance of power to those with access to one, or both. Though traditional currency still exists in this time, it serves as only a means to score either a replacement organ for the one that will soon cease to beat in your chest, or the drug to ease the pain of your dire circumstance. In Dune, a substance known as “The Spice” is the most valuably commodity in this universe which gives the user a longer life span, greater vitality and heightened awareness but is also highly addictive – sounds a lot like money to me.
3. Barter – As Seen in: Most Post-apocalyptic Movies
Sometimes just because you are what man would deem as “the future” (at least a third-person audience watching a movie), that in no way means you have leapt forward in relative progress. After the bombs fall, the zombies take over or that pesky asteroid strikes, mankind often finds itself in a state of pseudo-medieval times, where only flour in a bag and water in a bottle mean anything. Countless dystopian thrillers place value only on fuel, food and weapons, not on a wadded-up piece of colored paper a former government deemed carried value. A list too long of such movies springs to mind, but I can recall how these transactions normally transpire.
Setting the scene: our dust-coated hero in his tattered trench coat moseys on up to the self-proclaimed “store owner” of this barren wasteland, wishing for a half tank of gas and a bottle of water. Slowly he unfolds a blanket filled with the remaining treasures of the 21st Century. The toothless shyster skims the collection with only partial interest, before his eyes land on a personal belonging of our road-weary vagabond. He refuses a request to trade, words are exchanged and likely a gunfight ensues. With the baddies dead, our hero splashes a few objects of value around the lifeless feet of our unscrupulous pawn-man, whispers a one liner and makes off with his purchases – it’s a rough world out there.
4. Gold – As Seen in: Treasure Planet
There’s gold in them, thar—outer space ... never underestimate the power of shiny. In the animated update of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic tale of an eager-eyed young lad and his duel-intentioned mentor Long John Silver, we find the sea-bound ships of the past replaced by space ships, and the titular island swapped for an entire planet. In this swashbuckling future, the ways of the seafarer are very much alive and gold, silver, doubloons and whatever other trinkets over which pirates salivate are the ultimate score as these poorer inhabitants of distant planets need to scrape by whatever way they can. Of course it is a stretch to think that a pretty mineral or pleasant colored rock would matter in a time where intergalactic transport was common, but who knows what the next century will hold.
5. Water – As Seen in: Tank Girl
Omitting a certain dystopian sci-fi flick called Waterworld, nothing is more valuable than water in a world that has little of anything and such a vital resource easily replaces cold-hard cash with the cool soft splash, as seen in cult favorite Tank Girl. Based on the comic of the same name, the plot unfolds after a comet hits the earth and alters the world’s climate. After no rain for 11 years, water is understandably scarce and what little remains is controlled by the powerful (and aptly named) Water & Power. Vials of water are placed on a near godly pedestal and not only will people kill for it, but it also serves as a political leverage point as did the cash of the past. Water shortages are a concern even now in many parts of the world, so to say that it carries weight is a significant understatement.