Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century may be a fun ’90s Disney Channel movie, but some of its futuristic sci-fi technology matches 21st-century life.
In 1999, the Disney Channel released a “stellar” original movie called Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. Zenon Kar and her family live in a space station that orbits Earth in the year 2049. Zenon moved to the station from Earth so that her scientist parents could continue their research in anti-gravity. Her home is in space and she has only heard bad things about Earth. But when trouble strikes with an investor, Zenon’s parents send her to Earth to keep her out of trouble.
While on Earth, Zenon tells her new friends what life is like in the “future.” Funny enough, now that it’s been 21 years since its release, Disney predicted a few items and issues that are perfectly in line with 21st-century living.
In 1999, speaking to loved ones through a video program was unheard of. Skype wasn’t invented until 2003 and FaceTime wasn’t created until 2010. Zenon was able to speak to her friends and parents via “videograms” and the program was strong enough to carry a signal from Earth to space! At the end of the movie when Zenon saved the space station, she videograms Greg so that he could watch Proto Zoa’s concert live.
9 Everyone Relies On Computers
In most ’90s movies and TV shows that take place in schools, most of the characters are taking notes with pen and paper. It was rare if someone other than the teacher had a laptop on hand. But in the Zenon’s classroom, everyone took notes on their own personal computer. This is obviously something that’s done regularly today.
Seeing Zenon and Nebula working and researching with computers inspired children (at the time) to be as futuristic as they were. It was a hopeful part of childhood.
8 Life On Earth
Zenon moved to the space station when she was five years old. There’s not much about her childhood on Earth that she remembered besides summer rainstorms. Her parents filled her head with horrific stories about their experience. From earthquakes to mugging, it all seemed so scary. Zenon and her friends agreed that in 2049, those on Earth are only motivated by “money and self-defense.” Earth is filled with germs, speeding trucks, and natural disasters, according to Zenon. She’s not entirely wrong.
7 Holograms Are As Real As It Gets
Holograms are the fascinating way people can watch or learn from a person that’s not technically there. Using state-of-the-art equipment, there are ways to bring back those who have died in the form of holograms.
There’s been a Tupac concert via hologram. There’s also been a Whitney Houston hologram. Even more recently, Kanye West gifted Kim Kardashian West a hologram of her father for her birthday. The teacher in Zenon teaching via hologram was iconic and definitely made it one of the coolest parts of the movie.
6 Teen Jargon
To prove that Zenon and her friends in the space station were truly out of this world, Disney exaggerated the differences between life on Earth and space. Zenon and her friends wore futuristic clothing and unique hairstyles and ven used different verbiage than teens on Earth.
However, teens these days also have a language all on their own. There are plenty of abbreviations and shortened words that the youth say today that adults are still scratching their heads over.
5 Parental Controls
When Zenon is sent to Earth to stay with her aunt, she tries video calling her best friend Nebula to catch up and vent. The only problem is that her tablet isn’t connecting to the space station. A program popped up on Zenon’s tablet that warned her that the only calls she was able to make were to her parents.
This was essentially a parental control that kids today are all too familiar with. Whether it’s an app or website, parents are able to set up controls so that their children can only do or see specific things.
4 Stress Helmets & Stress Chambers
When Zenon stresses her mother out, she puts on this odd cap called a “stress helmet” and walks away to cool down. Zenon’s dad warned Zenon that her mother has been relying on the stress helmet and stress chambers too frequently because of her behavior.
While our stress helmets aren’t helmets per se, we do have plenty of accessories and gadgets that can help de-stress us when needed.
When Zenon is video-calling her friends and family, it’s not done on a phone but on a tablet. Tablets didn’t come out until 2o00, which means Zenon and her space station were beyond their years. In one scene, she’s even using the tablet to watch the press conference with the space station’s commander. So, not only is her tablet capable of calling people, but it’s also able to pick up live feeds. It’s an underrated feature in the movie.
2 The War On Preservatives
What do people in space eat? Zenon tells her aunt and friends that they can only eat what they can cultivate. She’s never had a pizza or hamburger before. Food on Earth was completely foreign to her. She said up in space there’s no dirt and no preservatives. Preservative talk wasn’t necessarily trendy in 1999 but in 2020 it’s a big topic of discussion.
1 Computer Viruses & Password Protection
One problem that Zenon continues to have while in space and on Earth are password-protected gadgets and computer viruses. On the space station, most rooms and important functions are protected by security doors and passcodes. When she tried to break into the disc that she stole from Mr. Lutz, it gave a virus to poor Andrew’s computer.
Today, many labs and important rooms are guarded by passcodes and locks. Computers and programs work the same way. In fact, because of all the password-protected information, hackers are only getting brighter so they can better infiltrate systems.
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