Five ways Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Demolition Man’ predicted life after Covid-19: from no touching to video conferencing

The 1993 film was recently a trending Twitter subject thanks to its parallels to the modern day

American actors Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock on the set of <Demolition Man> directed by Marco Brambilla. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Unassuming tweets can often lead to trends.

Such was the case this week when Twitter users played a game of naming Sylvester Stallone films that are not Rocky, Rambo or The Expendables.

While these exchanges unearthed forgotten gems like 1987's arm-wrestling drama Over the Top and the utterly awful 1992 comedy Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, one film propelling the discussion to viral status was 1993's Demolition Man.

While the futuristic action-comedy was a moderate hit and starred a relatively unknown actress called Sandra Bullock (her breakout role in Speed was a year away), newfound attention was sparked after commenters noticed how the film spookily predicted the future.

The Marco Brambilla-directed film, in which cryogenically frozen cop John Spartan (Stallone) wakes up in a future world he can't fathom, joins the likes of other sci-fis such as 2011's Contagion and 1994's The Stand in making eerily accurate observations about the world we live in today.

Here are five ways Demolition Man got it right.

1. It is set in a traumatised world

Set in the fictional metropolis of San Angeles in the year 2032, the film depicts a society recovering from an environmental catastrophe.

In the film, a massive earthquake in 2010 unleashes an endless stream of diseases and viruses that renders the streets empty and destroys the restaurant industry.

In fact, one dining spot that remains standing – depending where you watched the film – is either Tex-Mex joint Taco Bell (for US viewers) or Pizza Hut.

With today's pandemic shuttering restaurants across the world and hushing once vibrant cities, Demolition Man's setting is more chilling than quirky.

2. A society that has lost touch

Decades before we were figuring out ways to deliver Covid-friendly greetings, Sly and co were doing it on screen.

To stymie the spread of disease, San Angeles banned all forms of physical contact such as kisses, hugs, handshakes, fist and elbow bumps.

The approved salutation, instead, can be best described as a flamboyant version of an air high-five.

3. The advent of Zoom

While video conferencing is a standard trope of sci-fi films, Demolition Man didn't use it as a gimmick.

The film features scenes illustrating how the format seeped into our everyday lives, from social calls to high-level government meetings.

4. TikTok is coming

A small and inconsequential scene predicted today's blurred lines between art and advertising, as well as how music is heard in bite-sized bits thanks to social media and video-sharing apps such as TikTok.

During a car ride, Spartan is miffed when the radio plays nothing but jingles.

"This is the most popular station in town," says fellow officer Alfredo Garcia, played by Benjamin Bratt. "(It's) wall-to-wall mini tunes; you call them commercials."

5. No party zone

To help combat the spread of disease, San Angeles instigated a series of health and safety measures that many of us would be familiar with. This includes outlawing unsanctioned mass gatherings and celebrations.

If that strikes you as too close to the bone, then remember it could have been worse: also included in the banned list are sports activities and eating meat.