The original AOC version of A Message from the Future focuses heavily on the impact of living in a world where the Green New Deal disrupted humanity's course towards climate catastrophe. While it projects these changes in the future, it actually spends about half of its time in the recent past, showing how we were on our way to the climatic cliff … before we project a world that begins 2018 with democratic victories, we add new ones Victories add to 2020 and lift the nation to a far fairer, greener place.
The 2020 version, illustrated by Crabapple and written by author Naomi Klein, seems a little less hopeful from the title: Years of Repair. It is recognized that in 2020 we will not be able to solve problems, but that damage that has already occurred in the future must be addressed, and not just in 2020. As in the first film, there will be a strong focus on need set to address both climate change and other environmental problems. And like with the first film, there's no guess that everything will just be peach-colored. This future letter assumes, among other things, that COVID-19 is far from being the last time the world has to grapple with a rapidly developing disease.
The new film pushes social issues even more strongly. Issues of race, employment, policing. This sometimes happens in a way that makes even people who consider themselves progressive uncomfortable. But that's the point. This is less a continuation of the first film than a letter from another future in which things have changed enormously in relation to the world we know in this sad, busy year.
Personal note: Back in May 2016, I wrote an essay in which I promised to spend time “winning back utopia” and writing about how we could create “the bright future” for the next year. Of course, I wrote that months before the 2016 election we were thrown to a place I hadn't imagined. I allowed this event to stifle this project before it really got going. But think of this article as two views on the kind of utopias I talked about that day.
I promise, no matter what happens in November, you won't be the last.