J.J. Abrams' Pet Peeve: When Futuristic Stories Use Present-Day Jargon

Sunday sees the first episode of Almost Human, the android-cyborg buddy cop show from some of the peeps behind Fringe. Co-creator J.J. Abrams has been doing interviews to promote the show, and he brought up the biggest thing that annoys him in future-set stories: anachronistically present-day references.

Talking to Time, Abrams says:

I don't often kick my feet up and ponder what it'll be like 50 years from now, but I find myself — whether it's been working on movies like Star Trek or a series like Almost Human — I do find myself asking what do I believe about what could happen. Frankly, one of my biggest pet peeves is the use of certain phrases that I just can't for the life of me believe will exist five decades from now...

Even little things. If you read a story about a hard drive, it's like, There won't be a hard drive! I'm not saying there won't be a version of a memory cartridge or some obvious equivalent. If you're telling a story about the future, we're going to be bipeds, we're going to be wearing clothes, we'll live in structures, we'll consume comestibles, we'll inhale oxygen. They're all things we know we'll maintain. The truth is that almost every relationship — whether it's between people or people and their work — there will always be these analogous situations you can get. The thing that drives me crazy is when it's a literal connection to what exists now. When you think on a day-to-day basis how many little things we might say or refer to that if 30 years ago someone had said to you, "You know, I'll text you in 10 minutes," you'd be like, "What'd you say?" It would almost be like alien talk. You have to think in terms of practical dialogue. Producing a TV show or movie, there are just going to be certain phrases and terms that will be completely alien to us now, if we heard them from the future.