The Game Remains the Same: The New Relevance of ‘The Running Man’

It is 2017. America has become a dark dystopia wherein the most popular entertainment is reality television that revels in the suffering of others. A police state presided over by the most powerful man in the world: a game show host. As you read this, ask yourself, am I describing the plot of 1987’s The Running Man or Wikipedia’s current entry for the United States?

Plenty of science-fiction movies have conjectured about distant futures, and for every off-base flying car prediction, there is a Running Man. In the movie, America is a place where commerce and entertainment are the new policy and religion respectively.

Richard Dawson plays Damon Killian, the host of the most popular, human-hunting game show The Running Man and a dark parody of his own stint as the beloved host of The Family Feud. The film begins in the distant future of…our present. It is an America where the President has an agent and you can’t trust anything you see on the news.

It is striking on downright prophetic this silly little Schwarzenegger vehicle turned out to be. It was penned by Stephen King, under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, and although much of the story was altered in a film adaptation, it remains the prolific writer’s most prescient work.

To put a fine point on the chilling (not an ice pun, we promise) oracular quality of the film, one of its most troubling elements is how the depicted government slut-shames Maria Conchita Alonso’s character for having “two, sometimes three, sexual partners in a single year.”

Look at the reaction of the Murdoch-owned newspaper running nude photos of Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor Who, and ask if we have culturally evolved past these deplorable institutionalized gender relations.

On this week’s Junkfood Cinema podcast, Brian and Cargill are joined by Night Attack’s Justin Robert Young as they run down the greatness of 1987’s The Running Man. Download the episode and prepare for a thorough examination of crime and PUNishment in 2017.

We are very pleased to announce that Junkfood Cinema is now part of the Blog Talk Radio network! You can find all our archived episodes there, you can still catch our new episodes via your favorite podcatching service, as well as continue to read our lead-in articles right here on FSR. Support us on Patreon, why not?

On This Week’s Show:

  • Appetizers [0:00–5:14]
  • The Main Course [5:15–1:04:42]
  • The Junkfood Pairing [1:04:43–1:12:47]

Brian Salisbury :Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.