The dystopian vision of the future in “Elysium”…playing everywhere near you.

This is less a movie review than a comment about the overall look and feel of the opening sequence of a film that, I believe, is in the real making today as I sit here thinking about the myriad ways that the public college I teach at has been dragged down to an abysmal version of itself in just one year.  

This movie is set in 2154.  That’s 141 years into the future and the establishing shot of Los Angeles looks nightmarishly bleak with complete overpopulation and ruin in every way imaginable.  

If you look around you now, it’s not hard to find the garbage overflowing, ruinous potholes for bicyclists and motorists in all major cities, politicians gorging on corporate feed like cattle in the industrial farming troughs, middle class being gutted of any value held in property and the like that we’ve been told invest in so that we set ourselves up for a good life to retirement, and students left holding the enormous bag of debt.  We’re not 141 years away from the horror shot in the opening of the movie “Elysium”.  It sure feels more like 20 or 30 years away from that. Meanwhile, the super-rich get to enjoy the remaining earth spoils before they hightail it for whatever space station Richard Branson will likely attempt to construct in the next decade. 

If I just pose, as an example, the public college where I teach a wonderful and diverse population, I can see the writing on the wall right now.  We normally serve between 85,000 and 100,000 students each semester. The politicians and plutocrats backing the “reform movement” work feverishly to kill those numbers and in this one year alone at this one school (the largest community college in California), everything you can imagine has been transformed and cut-to-the-bone in order to make it completely unworkable to serve the students properly AND with untoward and scurrilous activity aimed at the faculty causing morale at a place that all once loved to work to reach a humiliating low. 

In America, it used to be that you worked hard for 2/3 of your life in order to earn a place of retirement with some comfort. Now, with the short-shift of nothing more than menial, automaton-like, service jobs paying less than $9/hr and with our government deciding that it’s simply not worth it to fund an education for the populace-at-large anymore (first-hand evidence from the large college witnessing purposeful downsizing as noted above), the future doesn’t look so bright.  Education is quickly becoming an aspiration for those who can pay the big bucks to graduate with the hope of obtaining the good jobs.  But, truly, where are those jobs?  Are we not reading that plenty of graduates are applying for McDonalds, WalMart, and any-retail-hell-name-you-wish-to-enter-here because there are no options right now for them?  Will there ever be?  If one does not aspire to be CEO of a multinational corporation will one ever find a place waiting for her/him on “Elysium”? 

About danaj33

I have been teaching in the Broadcast Electronic Media Art department at City College of San Francisco since 2001. I started teaching full-time in 2009 and am tenured. My career as an audio engineer spans 32-years since the first day I began to record and mix songs on my Tascam PortaStudio (cassette 4-track) in the early 80's while attending college at UC Berkeley. I formed a couple of bands and sang lead (sometimes playing rhythm guitar) until 1988 when I discovered that the "behind-the-scenes" tech realm was much more to my liking. I love how an audio engineer controls the ENTIRE sound mix, and not just one's own instrument. I then began a career as a live sound engineer in earnest and have toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as front-of-house sound engineer for a multitude of bands on various record labels (most notably "Medicine" on American Recordings) and have been a staff engineer at the venerable Bottom of the Hill nightclub since their inception in 1991 leaving a regular shift there in 2010 due to the teaching schedule. The club and its staff are like family. I owned and operated a live sound production company since 1989 (ending officially in 2017) called dcj Productions that has provided sound to the Bay Area community (mostly in the non-profit sector) in both large outdoor sound events as well as nightclubs and music halls. In 1991, I started recording bands on an 8-track Tascam TSR-8 analog tape recorder and moved into the digital realm in 1993 to 16-tracks of Alesis ADAT connected to a Soundcraft Ghost console in my home studio. In 1995, I advanced to Pro Tools and have been recording exclusively digital ever since, combining audio skills in sound for film as a location recordist as well as an engineer in post-production sound design and mixing. I remained "strictly analog" in my live sound mixing until just this past year (2012). Now that one can obtain a decent, live sound digital mixer at an affordable price, it was high time to check out digital for live. I now have a Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2 to work on with my students to give them much needed hands-on experience with a digital console. I co-owned and ran APG Records & APG Studios, an SF record label and recording studio, from 1999 - 2004 which had a distribution deal through EMI. The company folded in 2004. I continue to record music and engineer live performances at many Bay Area venues in addition to full-time teaching at CCSF. In 2001, I was hired to the part-time faculty at City College of San Francisco in the Broadcast Electronics Media Arts department where I have taught many of the classes including Digital Media Skills (BCST119), Basic Audio Production (BCST120), Digital Audio Production (BCST124), Sound Recording Studio (BCST125), Sound For Visual Media (BCST126), Advanced Sound Recording (BCST127), Sound Reinforcement (BCST128), Audio for the Web (BCST135), Video for the Web (BCST136), and Field Video Production (BCST141). I have also taught classes in sound design, audio for animation and games, music video, and computer applications at Art Institute of California-San Francisco, Globe Recording Institute, and Laney College in Oakland, CA. In addition to teaching, I am a writer. I have several blogs and have written many screenplays since 2007 producing a few of them into short films. In 2020, the craziest year and decade of any of our lives, I am starting a book project titled, "Abra, the Imaginarian." Outside Affiliations: - former Co-Director of SoundGirls - current member of Audio Engineering Society and on the SF Chapter Planning Committee - past Vice President and Interim President Board of Directors - Bay Area Girls Rock Camp - past volunteer/contributor to Women's Audio Mission - past member Bay Area Women in Media and Film - past Board of Directors for Camp Reel Stories
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