Jon Bois’s 17776 or What football will look like in the future is an online fictional narrative about three space probes that observe the people play a new and improved style of football in the year 17776. In this time life on earth has changed dramatically due to humans being immortal. This story is an example of a text that focuses in the idea of immortality. In the text Jon Bois mentions that the people prefer to live both a simple and fun life by playing football instead of advancing in technology due to having infinite time. With immortality people prefer to live a simple life because exploring the universe would be a waste of time. As Jon Bois writes, Humanity could have advanced if it wanted to. In fact, it did. Almost everything you thought they would invent, they did. Flying cars, buildings that build themselves, jets that can take you from Arkansas to Paris in five minutes. You don’t see any of those things because people didn’t want them (Bois Chapter 12). What is interesting to point out about this text are the images of vehicles that appear on the page which were created during the 70s, 80s, and 90s in Chapter 12. The images of newspaper articles about the voyager vans appear in black and white which symbolize the humbleness of the people living in the future. The purpose of the images is to show that humanity still remembers their past life long before they became immortal because there is no purpose living on earth without scarcity. The text portrays immortality as a negative idea because humanity at any moment will experience boredom.
One of the major examples in the text that portrays immortality as a negative idea is the way the story What football will look like in the future is first introduced. The story starts with space probes Pioneer 9 and Pioneer 10 sending messages to each other through space. What is interesting is that it took approximately one year for them to receive and send each message which a normal human being would never tolerate. One of the formal aspects of the text is the background image of an extended calendar that begins during the year 17743 and ends in the year 17776. The messages of both space probes appear in a certain day of the calendar. The purpose of the calendar is to test the reader’s patience to see if they are taking their time spotting and reading those messages clearly instead of just skimming or scrolling down the page. As Ian Crouch writes in the article, titled The Experimental Fiction that Imagines Football-Obsessed Americans In the Extremely Distant Future, this chapter will also cause the reader to become confused, I hesitate to give much more of a description of this odd, captivating story, because the first chapter, titled ‘Please answer me,’ puts the reader into a dizzying state of incomprehension (Crouch 2). It is said that boredom will then make immortal people experience insanity, like Pioneer 9, a machine with infinitely greater patience than a human being did in the beginning of the story after waiting for an answer from Pioneer 10 that almost took a year to receive (Bois Chapter 13). This might lead to the idea that at one point humanity will experience insanity because if one non-living organism went insane in the first chapter of the story, it is logical that a human being would too.
In this story the reader is introduced into a new and advanced style of football. This new style of football prevents humanity from getting bored. For example, Jon Bois mentions that football strengthens humans both physically and mentally, And now boredom is their only enemy. And they get up in the morning and fight it every day of their eternal lives. Recreation and play sustain them. Football sustains them (Bois Chapter 7 video 1:57-2:06). With immortality the people had to change the rules of football in order to make things more difficult for everyone. In the future, football games last for thousands of years where players have to constantly travel hundreds of miles in order to catch a football. The formal feature of the text in this example is scale which is shown in gifs. The gifs throughout the story demonstrate the replays of all the movements the players make throughout the open field. The gifs give us a sense of what large vs small is like in this world. With immortality the people can play football for thousands of years without getting bored because each football game for them is different. The gifs also give us a sense that humanity is insane of playing a dangerous game of football that involves coming face to face with tornados and playing in places where a normal human being would never do. There are also the gifs from older football games that appear in black and white before the change from mortality to immortality took place. The gifs from football games in the past and in the future give us an opportunity to witness how our minds change in order to continue living in a world where being immortal is an issue.
For the people living in this world, playing football means everything. As Miguel Sicart writes, Like literature, art, song, and dance; like politics and love and math, play is a way of engaging and expressing our being in the world (Sicart, 5). In this fictional world immortal people tend to enjoy football more than mortal humans because never in the story mentions anything about rival fans causing a lot of caos or fights before, during, or after a game. The people play football in order to have fun; however, not all football games in the future are enjoyable. For example, the Garbage Football Podcast in Chapter 6 focuses on bad games,
So as a result of these dimensions…ok, a standard old football field is about twice as wide as it is long, right? Well, if we do the math, and we did do the math, it turns out that the field is 43, 878 times as long as it is wide. And Thuy, what made this game different from other long-distance game is that…you know, when you have a field that covers 1,300 miles it’s probably good idea to have lots and lots of players? Ideally, a few hundred? We can agree on that? We can agree on that! They did not. They kept it to standard football rosters. 11 players offense, 11 players defense. Which is completely insane (Bois Chapter 6).
What is the difference between a good and bad football game? The text again shows us the feature of a scale in this chapter. The gifs and images show what a football field of a bad game looks like. A bad game to the podcast commentators is a game where there is no balance because not enough players are in a field that is very wide and long. The gifs and images give us a sense that humans are willing to play football in difficult circumstances because that is their nature in this world. Changing of the rules can make a game good or bad depending on the choices the person in charge makes. In the podcast the commentators mention that the only way to have a good football game, is by adding a bit of reality. For immortal humans changing the rules of football can be a positive thing because a difficult game will prevent them from getting bored. It is important to know that opinions from the people on a subject change throughout history. A football game in the future can be labeled as a bad game for normal humans because they feel that playing a game for thousands of years is insane. The complete opposite can be said for immortal humans because a short and easy game of football will become boring to them.
Jon Bois’s What football will look like in the future also shows us that not everything in the future is portrayed as being immortal. For example, the Livermore Lightbulb is considered to be the only death in the story after it was crushed by a 500 football. The Livermore Lightbulb can be considered as a living organism because it was a valuable object that reminded humanity of their past. As Jon Bois writes, Perhaps in a more fearsome age, an age of illness and warfare and cosmic debris, we would not have room in our hearts to care for such a little bulb. But we are living in an age without loss. This is a sorrow we have forgotten how to experience (Bois Chapter 19 video 0:44-0:54). The formal feature of the text in this example is the structure of Chapter 19. It is a video tribute to the Livermore Lightbulb where Pioneer 10 takes the time to remember the history and legacy of the bulb. In the beginning of the video we see green text that is surrounded by a black background. The image of the video changes from the dark background into the background of the earth. We can also hear the audio that is somewhat frightening with a combination of a bell sound that is made in order to pay respect to a loved one that passed away. The Livermore Lightbulb is the perfect example that not everything in the future will last. For example, the sorrow that the people experienced for the bulb was something they thought was not going to happen again, The bulb lived, to us, and life deserves to be immortal. It will live on in our memory, where it will perhaps find more happiness than it ever did hanging out from a ceiling (Chapter 19 video 0:54-1:02). It took approximately 15,000 years for the light in the Livermore Lightbulb to go off. The lighbulb also had the same age as the people living in this story which is impressive. The death of the lightbulb can represent certain changes to the rules of football in the future in order to avoid a similar tragedy because play is also considered troubling. As Sicart writes, Play can be dangerous too: it can be addicting and destructive and may lead to different types of harm??”physical injuries, lost friendships, emotional breakdowns (Sicart, 3). The people experienced emotional breakdowns after the tragedy because the Livermore Lightbulb was the oldest functioning electric object that had life in the universe.
Another moment in the story that shows that not everything in the future is portrayed as being immortal is when Pioneer 9, in an unexpected moment, was about to shut down due to low battery. In the first chapter of the story it is revealed that a huge amount of power or energy was needed for Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 9 to send a message when there was limited communication. What is interesting to point out about the structure of the text is the way Jon Bois decided to show this moment in the video to the reader. The video starts normally until an image of a low powered battery appears on a black background. At this moment the reader would have panicked for a few seconds with the thought that their own electronic device was also going to run out of power. It is one of the biggest fears in this generation where technology is mostly used to complete important assignments for school and job or be in contact with a loved one. At this moment the background soundtrack stops playing until the green colored text of Pioneer 10 and the yellow colored text of Juice appear to inform Pioneer 9 to not panic. The soundtrack of the music also changes and the image of the earth as the background reappears. This moment lets the reader know that only humans are the only ones that are given the opportunity to live forever and not non-living things like the space probes and the Livermore Lightbulb. The battery in this example represents life and without it the space probes would not be able to function. What is interesting to point out is how did Juice transfer some battery charge to Pioneer 9 if all three space probes are millions of miles apart from each other? Why don’t the space probes have unlimited power or energy?
In chapter 20 there is a connection between immortality and the belief in God. The formal feature of the text in this example is shown through images and biblical scriptures from two flyers that the character named Tim gave to the football player named Eddie Krieger at the end of an interview. During the interview Tim asks Eddie Krieger the following question: Would you like to know God personally? (Bois Chapter 20). Eddie Krieger does not believe that God exists but admits that he may be wrong like he has been in the past. One of the flyers contains a biblical scripture from Philippians 4.8 stating, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable??”if anything is excellent or praiseworthy??”think about such things (New American Catholic Edition the Holy Bible, Philippians 4.8). This describes that if the people living in this world decide to follow this advice, they will live eternally in peace. The second flyer has a strong image of a person that is going to cross the bridge. The left side of the image contains the phrases Sinful Man and death with the addition of two biblical scriptures. The phrase Sinful Man describes the persona of the individual crossing the bridge after dying. The first biblical scripture from Ephesians 2.1 states, You also, when you were dead by reason of your offenses and sins (New American Catholic Edition the Holy Bible, Ephesians 2.1). The second biblical scripture from Romans 6.23 states, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God, is life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord (New American Catholic Edition the Holy Bible, Romans 6.23). Both biblical scriptures claim that in order to have eternal life one must believe in God. The structure of the bridge in the middle part of the image is the cross where the Son of God, Jesus Christ, died in order to save everyone from all sin. The middle part of the image also contains three biblical scriptures. The first biblical scripture from ST. John 3.16-18, 36 states,
For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God did not send his Son into the world in order to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged; but he who does not believe is already judged, because he does not believe in the name of the only-begotten Son of God…He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; he who is unbelieving towards the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him (New American Catholic Edition the Holy Bible, ST. John 3.16-18, 36).
The second biblical scripture from the Acts 16.31 states, And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy household’ (New American Catholic Edition the Holy Bible, the Acts 16.31). The third biblical scripture from Ephesians 3.12 states, In him we have assurance and confident access through faith in him (New American Catholic Edition the Holy Bible, Ephesians 3.12). All three biblical scriptures mention that God is the reason why everyone has the opportunity to live eternally in heaven, but only if a person decides to let God enter their life. The right side of the image contains the phrases HolyGod and eternal life. The final and only biblical scripture in this side of the image describes heaven. The biblical scripture from ST. John 17.3 states, Now this is everlasting life, that they know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ (New American Catholic Edition the Holy Bible, ST. John 17.3). A person must believe that the only individual that is capable to grant them eternal life is God and no one else. All of these biblical scriptures and images in the flyers support that this theory ties in with the idea of immortality because the people who believe in God believe that in heaven a person will have eternal life. A person in heaven is granted a new life which explains why the people living at this time cannot remember what caused them to stop aging.
Chapter 14 is also considered to have a strong connection between immortality and the belief in God. The formal feature of the text in this example is the structure of the chapter itself. For example, the title of Chapter 14 is An Answered Prayer which the word prayer is one of the most important terms that all people who believe in God should know and practice. A person prays in order to ask God to take care of another person’s issues or their own. It is a way for people to be closer to God and seek for his help. The video starts with an important quote from Pioneer 10 describing the thought of humanity after becoming immortal. As Jon Bois writes,
Struggle??”true, unfabricated struggle??”is a cocoon they have shed. Humans are beings of the land and sea who have refused to cast themselves into the cosmic zone. Exploration and conquest are meaningless. They have achieved their final form, and they are resting in an eternal moment. They are creatures of play. They will be creatures of play until the end of time (Bois, Chapter 14 video 0:00-0:40).
The phrase They have achieved their final form refers to humans finally being able to become immortal after many years of study and scientific experiments. What is ironic is that the people didn’t discover the cause that would take them to immortality, instead immortality was given to them. In this story humanity still doesn’t know the reason why they became immortal. One theory is that God might have given them immortality by changing the earth into Heaven because heaven is the afterlife. The phrase They are creatures of play explains why humans at this time prefer to play football instead of doing something else that might seem more important to a normal person. The video then shifts from Pioneer 10’s message into an audio of a football game. The video’s background image of the earth changes from dark to light which can represent the afterlife because in heaven there is no darkness. At the end of the video the background image of the earth then disappears and turns into complete darkness. This can represent the struggle that humanity will always have to deal with every single day in order to not experience insanity due to being bored.
Jon Bois’s What football will look like in the future is an interesting online fictional narrative that goes beyond one’s imagination. It is one of a few online fictional narratives that focus in a topic that might be difficult for part of the audience to understand because not many people enjoy watching or playing football. Jon Bois does a great job with the delivery of the story by adding humor and not just focusing in football. Many people have compared Jon Bois’s work with a popular web comic known as Homestuck. It is a tale about a boy and his friends that play a game together.
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