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DOSSIER Science-Fiction: glasses of power!

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sci-fi glasses

In popular culture, glasses have sometimes been objects of inestimable value. More correlated to fashion than to simple equipment in the second half of the 20th century, they had the opportunity to offer some surprising assets. Magical, technological or downright devastating, sci-fi glasses have sometimes gone a long way. This quirky file presents them to you.

Glasses and science fiction: an obvious link and a difficult start

Glasses took a while to enter the forecourt of science fiction. Early works placed more futuristic emphasis on means of transportation. Rockets, supersonic planes, flying vehicles… At a time when war is constantly in people's minds, when empires are still trying to expand, you have to show your muscles. It was only several years later that the glasses would have a powerful echo in popular culture. Indeed, when the glasses begin to flood the market, they are exclusively a medical device. Above all, they are intended for those who have vision problems. Opposite, the heroes and fighter pilots have a view close to perfection. Having to have corrective glasses is more like being in the "weak" camp.

From the moment when optics were liberalized, when fashion took hold of them, in a country — the United States — which was the first to embark on the big consumption, to have a so-called "middle" social class, to give new impetus to international trade shattered by years of war, the status of glasses and their wearers will change.

The highlighting of models that will travel around the world, such as the Aviator model from Ray-Ban , will reinforce the seductive power of glasses, before tackling a much greater power. Always coming from the United States, the famous comics will launch a recipe which, to this day, is still working at full speed. Very often, the heroes of these comics are people damaged by life. In the first years after World War II, the comics of the DC franchise begin to experience a flourishing success, with heroes like Superman and especially Batman, science fiction heroes without magic power, but with very high equipment. stolen. It was at the height of the Cold War, in the early 1960s, that another franchise, Marvel Comics , put forward other American heroes, with painful pasts and whose condition will make it possible to protect citizens.[ =]

Heroes "like the others"

Science fiction no longer only gives pride of place to the powerful. Ordinary kids are, through the vagaries of life, mourning, accidents, transformed into almost invincible heroes. Thus, the intelligent but insignificant student Peter Parker becomes Spiderman after being bitten by a spider and decides to protect the population after the assassination of his uncle. The young "failure" Matt Murdoch, who became blind following an accident, turns into DareDevil while succeeding in a great career as a lawyer…Even the wealthy Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, with their lives all mapped out, will see their destiny change. The former watches helplessly as his parents are murdered while the latter becomes a mutilated Vietnam veteran.

These biographies, which use the same narrative scheme, have therefore made it possible to launch a new category of heroes. These, if they still use armor or supersonic vehicles, also have equipment considered part of everyday life. Among these equipment, the glasses play a fundamental role, and offer unlimited power.

Glasses ahead of their time, which become weapons or show reality

Thus, science fiction has appropriated the elements of our daily life by adding exceptional characteristics, often with a remarkable head start. This is the case with glasses. Take the example of Iron Man. Its glasses, called EDITH, are both a security, defense and tactical intelligence system in augmented reality. EDITH is the name of the AI housed in the glasses and grants its user access to Stark Industries' global satellite network as well as an arsenal of missiles and drones. They are controlled via an augmented reality interface, as do today's smart glasses. Voice commands and hand gestures allow the user to command the AI and access its many features.

In X-Men, young Scott Summers is a mutant who possesses considerable optical power, but needs to be channeled. For this, he has special glasses that he is obliged to wear, otherwise he would suffer unbearable pain. When decked out in his X-Men garb, he has a visor "strewn with ruby-quartz crystal powder, consists of two flat, lengthwise mounted lenses that can retract outwards. inside, allowing the emission of its ray with a variable size. The visor mechanism is controlled by a system of two miniature electric motors with a button on the side, which automatically lowers the visor when Cyclops wants to use his power. He also has triggers located in the palm of his gloves. To ensure constant safety, springs maintain pressure on the visor." This optical device therefore becomes a deadly weapon. Science fiction and glasses are more incompatible.

But it's not just comics that have turned glasses into objects of power. In the film "They Live" (Invasion Los Angeles) by John Carpenter, a man discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world as it really is. And it is not a pretty sight! Indeed, the real world is ruled by extraterrestrials who have enslaved the population using constant subliminal propaganda. A dystopia that has become a cult that aims to be a critique of capitalism and excessive advertising. The glasses play a central role here since their power makes it possible to show a cold and distressing reality.

In the Cyberpunk work "Johnny Mnemonic", society is driven by a virtual Internet, which has created a degenerate effect called "syndrome of nervous atrophy". The hero is a data conveyor who uses virtual reality headset-like goggles. Here again, the anticipation is strong, in the use of headsets as well as in the fight to prevent the pirating of personal data. Still relevant therefore.

A laboratory of the future?

It is not uncommon for people to highlight the ability to anticipate popular works. In the case of glasses, we see that the inspiration can be great (this is the case of the smart glasses of Iron Man) or completely offbeat (as in the case of Invasion Los Angeles). Anyway, we can analyze that we like to make our everyday objects extraordinary objects. If fiction very often surpasses reality, can the latter be able to surpass it? Spectacles and science fiction go hand in hand anyway.

For the moment, nothing is less certain, as the human imagination has no limits. But it should be noted that, very often, we try to turn a handicap into a strength. And glasses, long annoying, can also offer this possibility.