Created By: fruitpork on May 19, 2012 Last Edited By: fruitpork on February 3, 2016
Troped

Cassette Futurism

Eighties and Nineties style Zeerust.

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Trope

In works created in The '80s, The '90s, and occasionally The nills, the fashion, architechture, and technology will have a certain...aesthetic. Whether it be the loud, bright colors and geometric shapes, the tendency towards stark plainness, or the The lack of powerfull computers and cell phones, it is clear that this is neither The Raygun Gothic of days past nor the Everything Is an iPod in the Future aesthetic that would later follow, but a bridging point that contains elements of both styles.

Contrast Everything Is an iPod in the Future, Compare to Retraux, Retro Universe and Raygun Gothic.

Examples:

  • This Adult Swim Gold Commercial.
  • The store in Back to the Future II is an in-universe example.
  • Regular Show has a very eighties feel to it, despite being set in the present day. (One episode had the characters time travel to the actual 1980s.) All video graphics are 8-bit, the music is mostly Hair Metal, and some episodes ape early-MTV music video techniques.
  • Several Skits on Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
    • Puppeteer and Cloudcuckoolander David Lied Hart holds a giant VHS cassette with a "VHS for sale" sign nearby.
    • Uncle Muscles show sketches feature 80s and 90s icon "Weird Al" Yankovic, and feel like a warped version of a bad 80s cable access show. The "special effects" look like they were ripped right from old Genie analog editing consoles.
    • One sketch is made to look like an ad for a Midi file organizer.
    • One sketch is made to look like an ad for "The Internette"(all contained on one CD!) and reeks of this trope. You have to see it to believe how deep into this trope it really is. (season 2 episode 8)
    • Its Spin-Off counts as well.
  • The Fifth Element has a distinctive aesthetic that looks like a lot of 90s music videos. It's deliberately futuristic looking but also quite camp.
  • Babylon 5 featured lots of curved CRT screens disguised as flatscreens.
  • Space: Above and Beyond also had lots of CRT screens (not disguised) as well as C Ds and other mid-nineties tech.
  • Cowboy Bebop has a very 1970's aesthetic, including computer files that look like records, which is appropriate since it is set in the 70's- the 2070's.
  • The Fallout franchise uses this aesthetic deliberately, creating an Alternate Timeline where the transistor was never invented and society's development froze in The Fifties (until the Great War), with nuclear technology the only thing really advancing. As a result, the cars are powered by nuclear reactors but use Fifties styling, data is stored on magnetic tapes, and all the computers have vacuum tubes, phosphor-dot monitors and no graphical user interface.
  • William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy features things as complex as human memories recorded on tape. Not to mention that three megabytes of hot RAM is apparently valuable enough to kill for.
  • Max Headroom, the TV movie and subsequent series. Even though it's the Trope Namer for Twenty Minutes Into The Future, there's no flat-screen digital HDTV, no internet, computer graphics have a distinctly pre-Windows appearance and TV shows are still recorded on tape.
  • Johnny Mnemonic has an internet that resembles this. Though the computing technology was updated a bit from the Sprawl verse short story in that Johnny's implant has a capacity of 80 gigs rather than the hundreds of megs in the original that was written in the '80s (as opposed to the '90s).
Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • May 20, 2012
    Arivne
    I think you meant "cassette".
  • May 20, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    The Fifth Element has a distinctive aesthetic that looks like a lot of 90s music videos. It's deliberately futuristic looking but also quite camp.

    Is it worth mentioning post-modernism? This era started to produce more works that looked back and referenced predecessors as opposed to the unlimited optimism of say, Star Trek.
  • May 22, 2012
    electronshock
    To be clear, things set in the future and made in that era don't count as this?
  • May 22, 2012
    fruitpork
    Yep, unless Word Of God confirms the aesthetic is deliberate.
  • May 22, 2012
    JonnyB
    Does the 1980s store in Back To The Future II count?
  • May 22, 2012
    electronshock
    To my understanding of the trope, I'd say yes, as an in universe example.
  • July 20, 2012
    fruitpork
    bumping.
  • July 20, 2012
    TonyG
    Regular Show has a very eighties feel to it, despite being set in the present day. (One episode had the characters time travel to the actual 1980s.) All video graphics are 8-bit, the music is mostly Hair Metal, and some episodes ape early-MTV music video techniques.
  • July 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Isn't this just Tech Marches On during The Future? Evangelion did not deliberately go for that aesthetic. Those tapes were expected to be the next tech thing.
  • July 20, 2012
    Jordan
    Might fit another trope better, but Cowboy Bebop has a very 1970's aesthetic, including computer files that look like records, which is appropriate since it is set in the 70's- the 2070's.
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    I really dislike the name. It's a bad snowclone. In what way is this aesthetic "punk?" The "Punk Punk" tropes involve "generalizations of Cyber Punk styles into other historical periods or settings." But this really has nothing to do with Cyber Punk or related aesthetics. Something like Pre Digital or Pre Digital Modern maybe? Pre Digital Aesthetic?
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    That being said, Trailer Park Boys, a series set on the margins of society, often features characters using anachronistically huge cell phones and car phones, as well as 8-track players and other dated technology in the 2000's. Justified by the characters' poverty.
  • July 22, 2012
    CosmicRock
    Sounds a lot like the 80s and early 90s in general. The trope could be called "Analog to Digital Transitional Age".

    I'd say probably 1982-1996(or thereabouts) is when the transition to digital media technology mostly took place. Obviously computers were around much longer, and to this day some old timers still use rotary phones...but the massive shift to digital media and communications(including the internet) occurred during that time frame.

    The reason for this proliferation in media may have the most to do with the content creators and authors who are coming into positions of influence in the entertainment industry now came of age during this period. It's a bit of "write what you know" run through the nostalgia filter.

    The first time someone mentioned anything like this asthetic to me was a friend recommending I see the film "Napoleon Dynamite" where they use cassette tapes and drive those distinctly early 80s vans.

    Another example of this is several skits on "Tim and Eric's Awesome Show Great Job!"

    • Puppeteer and Cloudcuckoolander David Lied Hart holds a giant VHS cassette with a "VHS for sale" sign nearby.

    • Uncle Muscles show sketches feature 80s and 90s icon Weird Al Yankovich, and feel like a warped version of a bad 80s cable access show. The "special effects" look like they were ripped right from old Genie analog editing consoles.

    • One sketch is made to look like an ad for a Midi file organizer.

    • One sketch is made to look like an ad for "The Internette"(all contained on one CD!) and reeks of this trope. You have to see it to believe how deep into this trope it really is. (season 2 episode 8)
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    "A Punk Punk variant either exchanges the basic technology for that of another historical period or mixes in another genre."

    Punk Punk index page
  • July 22, 2012
    electronshock
    Come to think of it, A lot of the humans tech in Mass Effect is this. It's past Raygun Gothic, but not really smooth like Ipod either. It's kind of just that stark plainness combined with geometric shapes, just like described.
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Both Napoleon Dynamite and The Royal Tenenbaums are like this, deliberately.
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Twin Peaks might count: early nineties, but had a very mid-eighties aesthetic, taking place in a rustic small town.
  • July 22, 2012
    Diask
    There is already a trope called Retro Universe, which is about modern day settings with retro style.
  • July 22, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    And again, Evangelion is not an example. Those were not regular cassettes used, but mini cassettes, which actually were expected to be the next big thing. So it's just Tech Marches On in the case of that show.
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Agree with Diask: any deliberate examples of this are probably Retro Universe. Wes Anderson movies for example.
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Furthermore I must emphasize one more time that this has nothing to do with Punk Punk and if launched will need a better name.
  • August 6, 2012
    electronshock
    Notch's upcoming game 0x10^C has this as a setting; its spaceships have 1980s style computers, and seem to follow this asthetic.
  • August 7, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    Can we change the laconic to something like, "Outdated future portrayed by the Eighties and Ninties." And I think this should be about that aesthetic (which is in like every sci-fi made in that time), whether it was deliberate or not. I don't see a difference, really.

    I like cassette in the name, and I get why 'punk' shouldn't be in it, since it has nothing to do with the punk movement. Maybe Cassette Futurism?
  • August 7, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^That could work.
  • August 8, 2012
    peccantis
    ^^ to go with Steam Punk, Diesel Punk, etc.
  • August 8, 2012
    arromdee
    If Cassette Punk isn't an existing term (and I don't think it is), we need to either find the existing term or get a more descriptive name. I think Retro Universe mostly covers it.
  • August 9, 2012
    fruitpork
    I've modified the trope a bit, and updated some examples. Any title ideas?
  • August 9, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Change the name. This has nothing to do with Punk Punk or related tropes. Cassette Futurism would be fine.

    It's not Retro Universe, since that usually applies to works supposedly set in the Present Day (and also deliberate examples)
  • August 10, 2012
    unfound
    @fulltimeD: Sorry, but you missed the boat to complain about the naming conventions of ----punk by a few decades. "Steampunk" is used to refer to works featuring steam technology and aesthetics even if it lacks a "punk" attitude. Adding -punk at the end just means you're using some improbable technological aesthetic from the past or elsewhere in a genre mashup. Cyberpunk is the only one that is expected to hew to "punk" in style.

    If it helps, "Tape Punk" sees a decent amount of usage to describe the aesthetics of '60s/'70s/'80s computers and machines. Google it.
  • August 10, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    The difference is that punk-punk stuff takes a deliberate alternate path or emphasis in their technology (steampunk emphasizes steam power, clockpunk clockworks, biopunk, bio-engineering, etc.) This isn't about taking Casette technology and running with it, it's basically just what the eighties and there-abouts envisioned the actual future to be (Like Zeerust was what they envisioned the future to be in past eras) and while it has turned out to be incorrect, the aesthetic is still used to bring to mind those original works that used it, for stylistic or nostalgia purposes.
  • August 11, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^^ Steam Punk gets that pass by already being an existing term of art. Tvtropes didn't name it.

    Also, you're wrong. Desert Punk hews closely to Punk Punk. So does Diesel Punk.
  • August 11, 2012
    unfound
    Okay, if this is meant to describe Zeerust of works made in the '80s, then it's not a Punk Punk subgenre. I was thinking more in terms of more recent works with retro in mind. In that case, this has nothing to do with "punk" whatever.
  • August 11, 2012
    LobsterMagnus
    • Star Trek The Next Generation occasionally comes off like this.

    • Terry Gilliam's 1985 science fiction movie Brazil. In this case, the technology looking quite outdated even may work in favor of the dystopian atmosphere the movie tries to convey in the first place.
  • August 11, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Live Action Television

    Babylon Five featured lots of curved CRT screens disguised as flatscreens.

    Space Above And Beyond also had lots of CRT screens (not disguised) as well as C Ds and other mid-nineties tech.

  • October 27, 2012
    StarSword
    By the way, the Wiki Word you're looking for is Turn Of The Millennium, not The Nils.

    Video Games
    • The Fallout franchise uses this aesthetic deliberately, creating an Alternate Timeline where the transistor was never invented and society's development froze in The Fifties (until the Great War), with nuclear technology the only thing really advancing. As a result, the cars are powered by nuclear reactors but use Fifties styling, data is stored on magnetic tapes, and all the computers have vacuum tubes, phosphor-dot monitors and no graphical user interface.
  • October 27, 2012
    Earnest
    You can pothole in Ascetic Aesthetic into "tendency for stark plainness" in the op.
  • October 28, 2012
    Chernoskill
    Cyberpunk 2020 is the future, but somehow it's still the 80s... Rampant narcissism, Yuppies strait out of Wall Street, big hair and even worse fashion styles (from today's perspective), a suspicious lack of cellphones... Even the rulebook clearly states the mantra "It doesn't matter how good you are at something, as long as you look good doing it!", a.k.a. Style over Substance.
  • October 28, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy features things as complex as human memories recorded on tape. Not to mention that three megabytes of hot RAM is apparently valuable enough to kill for.
  • October 28, 2012
    LeeM
    • Max Headroom, the TV movie and subsequent series. Even though it's the Trope Namer for Twenty Minutes Into The Future, there's no flat-screen digital HDTV, no internet, computer graphics have a distinctly pre-Windows appearance and TV shows are still recorded on tape.
  • December 22, 2012
    fruitpork
    Any objections to me launching this? Bump
  • December 22, 2012
    MorningStar1337
    ^I'm pretty sure you need 5 hats first
  • December 22, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • Johnny Mnemonic has an internet that resembles this. Though the computing technology was updated a bit from the Sprawl verse short story in that Johnny's implant has a capacity of 80 gigs rather than the hundreds of megs in the original that was written in the '80s (as opposed to the '90s).
  • December 29, 2012
    Chernoskill
    Fallout doesn't belong here, it's style is Zeerust and obviously has nothing to do with the 80s or 90s.
  • December 30, 2012
    KarjamP
    ^^^ Five hats it is! :P
  • February 3, 2016
    PhoagleShangus
    Would Logan's Run and future San Dimas from Bill and Ted qualify? Also, the Imperials from the Original Trilogy are probably a version of this aesthetic, being zeerust-y but too shiny to be Used Future.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=r43opzegrqt2fduudhj3wcga&trope=CassetteFuturism