The year is 2020. Fragments of some fundamentalist religious groups, including some Muslim, Christian Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, and Scientologists, have banded together to form a powerful voting block. They see the year 2020 as symbolic, metaphorically related to perfect vision, hindsight, and foresight, as well as a way to turn people back toward spiritual thinking after the fade of the turn-of-the-century influence.
They believe that the world, especially the US, has become too preoccupied with appearance - vanity. Nearly everyone has plastic surgery to the point that faces have a plastic "botox" like appearance, and bodies all look standard. Hair has been almost universally replaced by implants of certain quality. Over 75% of new marriages have a contract that requires the person to undergo plastic surgery to get a certain look, and then maintain that look through future plastic surgery. Divorce is routinely granted on the grounds of appearance. Age identifiers in the body have become almost nonexistent - an 80-year old looks identical to a 30-year old.
Most of the appearance and plastic surgery have to do with sexuality. The result is that not only is sex rampant across the population, a wave of unwanted pregnancy has flooded the child adoption system. Children are now warehoused, and there is talk of putting many into a coma until the adoption situation is improved. Many people can't afford birth control (current hormonal drugs went through a long-term health risk evaluation and were replaced by much more expensive drugs), and abortion has been illegal in all states since 2011.
This is a typical commercial for cosmetics: Eternal Youth cosmetics - Microporous Plastique by Monterey
The fundamentalist voting block convinces legislators in three states, Alabama, South Dakota, and Florida, that the emphasis on appearance has grown intolerable and too destructive to society, and that to deemphasize the influence, mirrors must be banned.
So legislation is enacted that bans mirrors in all public places, and in residences. Only physicians are allowed to have mirrors for medical purposes. There is a moratorium on plastic surgery except for medical emergencies. Patrols are set up to go from house to house removing mirrors from bathrooms, purses, vehicles, etc.
People can no longer see themselves, so they have no idea what they look like. They have difficulty putting in their contacts, so many return to glasses. Makeup gets smeared or not used at all. Some have others put their makeup on, and fix their hair. One woman cries in anguish on TV, "I'll never see my pretty face again!"
One possible direction for the story to go in is that people can't see to put in their contacts, back up their cars, and remove zits and smudges. But soon everyone seems more human and approachable as everyone is shown as less than perfect, and relationships become based on less superficial things and blossom. Imperfection is seen as essential to help us all become more tolerant and see beyond superficial values. Looking shabby becomes chic.
Another possible direction is the futility of making laws (like Prohibition [ban on alcohol]) to regulate human behavior. People go to extremes to see themselves in mirrors. They go to stores to glance at themselves in windows, they look at themselves at night in their home and car windows, they go boating on the lake so they can see their reflection in the water. The courts are flooded with lawsuits about the constitutionality of the laws and the effects (accidents, divorce). The government retaliates by requiring windows to be covered with curtains, and other reflective surfaces to be painted or backlit. People then start putting dark objects behind clear plates, so they have a temporary mirror. However, the fundamentalists are satisfied that they have made enough of an impact.
Both directions in the story can bring out excellent characterization, plot, and insights into the human condition. And each direction can be a plot or subplot that interacts with the other to help develop the plot.
Futuristic stories are interesting ways to escape the mental restraints of current limitations in our culture, such as current laws. They ask, "What if?" and can explore the question freely. While the stories are interesting by themselves, they can also be used as a device to explore issues, and then bring the story back into current times and restrictions with the new insight.
Examples of futuristic stories include: Fahrenheit 451, A Handmaidís Tale, 1984, Death Becomes Her, Solyent Green, and Equilibrium.
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