A Future That Never Was: Indians Buy the Country Back in ‘Americathon’

Here’s something interesting we stumbled across in an article about Ten Movies that Accurately Predicted the Future: The first pick is a little-remembered comedy from 1979 called Americathon. In the film, set in 1998, the United States failed to pull out of the 1970s energy crisis; without gas, everyone must get around by bicycle and automobiles become useless. Well, not so useless—as the USA of Americathon teeters on the brink of financial ruin, its citizens have taken to living in their cars.

But even this is a fool’s paradise; the president (played by John Ritter) has kept the economy afloat by borrowing heavily from an ultra-rich lender who decides he wants his money back. To stave off foreclosure, the USA ends up putting on a telethon to try to save itself; as you can imagine the hijinks that follow are both zany and madcap. Appearances by Meat Loaf, Harvey Korman, and Jay Leno.

But back up: Who’s the lender who calls in the debt? No, it’s not China. It’s Sam Birdwater, leader of an Indian cartel that has grown staggeringly rich off its cash cow, an international conglomerate that has mushroomed from what was once a modest shoe company called Nike. Yes, in this parallel universe, it’s the Indians who extract poetic justice, threatening to reclaim the country over $400 billion (a lot of money in 1978, apparently).

We’re not suggesting you watch this movie; it’s a little difficult to make it through even this five-minute clip. But there is something priceless about Birdwater—Chief Dan George—announcing he’s foreclosing on the United States with the phrase “I’ve gotta eat too.”


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