They say no one can predict the cultural trends of the future, but that’s nonsense. Anyone with half a brain saw yo-yos and fidget spinners coming from a mile away. (Hint: the next big toy combines slime, spinning action, and EpiPens.) Here are some more predictions you can hang your tiny fedora on.
- The Rules Diet
Most are familiar with the strict guidelines of the Paleolithic and Whole30 diets, but did you know dieting is going to get so much worse? Ever-changing — and seemingly arbitrary — rules will be the defining characteristic of the Rules Diet. Get used to no-salt Sundays and an entire week of barley cakes. Plus, extremely exotic recipes like the Laotian grilled bat will soon be making their way into your meal planning.
Prepare to Jackson Pollock your living room with junk and kitsch! It was fun to pretend we all liked the off-white walls and succulent décor of minimalism, but the maximalism to come will bring into vogue what everyone craves: lots of stuff. Remember Hummels, foil wallpaper, and towering stacks of old newspapers around the home? It’s all coming back, baby! And then some.
Cryptocurrency is so 2017, but never fear, affluent elites: Lithgowcurrency is the next big thing. This will be a virtual currency that exists only in the mind of acclaimed actor John Lithgow. The value of each LithCoin will be as stable as the enduring popularity of the 1987 hit comedy Harry and the Hendersons, and LithCoins will soon be as universal as Lithgow’s English accent is convincing.
- Poison Ivy Wrestling
Kids these days will do anything for YouTube views, and the next trendy stunt will be grappling in toxic flora for 15 minutes of fame and 9 days of skin rash. Sure, it’s unpleasant, but a lack of foresight is the defining feature of YouTube “vloggers,” and the winner can opt out of the next online challenge: quiet pursuit of a noble goal.
- Filtered, Treated Water
Raw water had its day, but the new fad will be avoiding giardiasis and other parasitic complications that come along with drinking “natural spring water.” It’s a simple process, and we’ve been doing it for decades: filtration and fluoride treatment. The best part? It’s much cheaper than 60 dollars per jug and probably isn’t carrying E. coli or Hepatitis A.
Future fashion trends are nearly impossible to predict, but bustles are definitely coming back in a big way. This time for men. Soon enough, you won’t be able to find a romper or a tracksuit without this Victorian-era frame on the derrière. The hottest stars will be flaunting bustles with their most dramatic pageboy haircuts.
- Communal Tax Filing
Sharing space for life and work is a special feature of Millennial culture. That’s why young people will be lining up for a hip hangout to itemize their deductions and calculate alternative minimums. Of course, there will be gewürztraminer flowing — it will be the new rosé.
- 2D-printed Memos
Once you ride in your self-driving car to your wooden skyscraper office during your “tech hiatus,” internal communication will be transformed. Just imagine receiving the information you need on a paper-thin, organic screen delivered straight to your squatting desk. I’ve seen the future, and it’s faintly familiar.
- Thoughtful Satire
Of all the future trends, no one saw this coming: internet satire devoid of needless snark. The next crop of humorists will be charitable and discerning in their amusing observations. Cynics beware! Irony may be dead, but benevolence is going to have a major moment. A brief, beautiful moment.
Read “Can Anyone Really Predict Pop Culture Hits?” by Cable Neuhaus for more on trendspotters.
When I heard that John Lithgow was cast to play Winston Churchill in the new Netflix series, “The Crown,” I had to wonder. Lithgow as the legendary Prime Minister? The short and rotund Sir Winston hardly resembles the tall, slim Lithgow. The show, written by Peter Morgan, who also wrote “The Queen,” is a serious drama about the royal family and I knew he wouldn’t entrust the role to an American actor on a whim. Then I watched John on screen. He’s properly paunchy thanks to some padding under that waistcoat. Add a dead-on English accent and a stubby cigar clenched between his teeth, and it’s an amazing transformation. I got to congratulate John personally. He towers over me and had to lean down to give me a kiss on the cheek. As he bent way over I said, “Ok, you are more than a foot taller than Churchill – How did you handle that?” His eyes twinkled and he replied, “I relied on a special acting technique. I just kept telling myself, think short!”
Jeanne Wolf: You’ve often said that your life is a lot of lucky happenstance. How much does luck play into your life and how much does all your hard work, your talent?
John Lithgow: Well, luck plays into it of course. Actors just never know what’s coming along. You depend so much on bright ideas that other people have for you because very often they think of things you would never think of yourself. I would never cast myself as Winston Churchill but when Steven Daldry cast me as Winston Churchill, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
JW: Fears and all?
JL: I trusted him. He’s a director that I’ve always wanted to work with. I knew Peter Morgan created the series. I just figured, “Well, if you want me, I may be scared of this but I’m certainly not gonna say no.”
JW: I have to know at which point you looked in the mirror and said, “Why did I ever say yes to this? What am I doing? How do I pull this off?”
JL: You know, in my career, I am fortified by the fact that the work that I’ve done that has been most satisfying to me, I have been scared to do. It was other people’s bright ideas that kind of took me aback. I went over to England and started working with the actors of “The Crown,” none of whom seemed to have the slightest problem with an American playing Winston Churchill, much to my surprise. My confidence grew and grew and grew. I collaborated with all these wonderful people—costume and makeup and dialect coaches—in every area.
JW: Did you have a cigar coach?
JL: I needed no coaching with the cigar. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to smoke good cigars. Just like in America, you’re only allowed to smoke these kind of dreadful, vegetable cigars on set, but I made it look like I enjoyed it.
JW: Yes you did. You know, as the series begins, we don’t get a picture of him that reminds us of the statesman that we all have idealized. Even his colleagues think they’re going to take over for him. Do you think that’s part of his trick that he didn’t let everyone see what he was seeing or see what he knew?
JL: Well that’s an interesting question. I think Churchill was so completely himself to a fault. He hadn’t the slightest problem with offending people or making enemies. He had a sort of reckless courage about his own convictions. It’s what made him incredibly unpopular until he became incredibly popular and his whole career was made up of those highs and lows and it was usually his bulldog personality which accounted for both.
JW: Did he know that they were practically making fun of him and trying to get him kicked out? Did he sense that? Was he enjoying it?
JL: I think both. I think he was threatened and I think his response is to fight back. He was a man with tremendous insecurities, a propensity for depression, and a sense of constant impending defeat and yet he fought back in all sorts of ways – and fascinating ways! He fought off depression by sitting outdoors and painting landscapes. He was a man full of conflicts, contradictions, and colors.
JW: Let’s talk about the moment where he has to speak to the radio audience and tell about the king being dead and all of a sudden, he looks different and sounds different. You understand what they meant for charisma with this strange guy and you understood how he commanded the room and the nation. Can you talk about his genius and can I use the word ‘charisma?’
JL: Of course! I think that’s wonderful that you took that away because it was certainly our intention. This was a man who was destroyed with grief at the loss of the king and fear of whether or not the monarchy would survive and he knew that if he failed in that speech on the radio then he was a goner. He knew that his rivals in the Tory party were counting on him to do a bad job. He did a magnificent job and I think it is that wonderful duality – a man who appears so defeated and so frail and incompetent suddenly being so much more than competent.
There’s something about British royalty, say what you like about the whole idea of a monarchy in the modern day, it’s got some sort of mysterious importance to the whole British experience. That’s why it makes such incredible drama. You can’t quite define what that importance is but you know the stakes are very high. Can this young girl be a queen at a moment when British society is in economic rubble post war? Do they really need a queen? Half of them don’t want it anymore. Churchill believed so fervently that they have got to have a strong sovereign. He’s the only Victorian left standing and he takes it upon himself to turn her into a great queen.
–Jeanne Wolf is our West Coast Editor