Monday, July 21, 2014

Three Core Beliefs Dystopian Stories Demonstrate in the Human Race


I've done posts before about why the dystopian genre is so prevalent today. This was brought up for me again recently when I watched (or re-watched, rather) The Walking Dead series with my mom. After a particularly dark, disturbing episode, she commented about how many movies/TV shows/books deal with the end of the world, and why that is. I told her I thought that we, as a society, were trying to prepare ourselves. She agreed, but wondered why. 

Will our society eventually degrade into a post-apocalyptic dystopia? I think it's a definite possibility, if we keep doing the way we currently are, but why is that? Well, let's use a couple of lines from a Schwarzenegger film.

"We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean." 
"It's in your nature to destroy yourselves." 
"Yeah, major drag."

(Anyone know that film?)

Anyway, my point is that, even if our society doesn't ever hit the point of The Hunger GamesCormac McCarthy's The Road, or The Walking Dead, (we'd need zombies for that) I still think we are trying to warn and prepare ourselves for the worst. We know it's in our nature. And we see the degradation of our society all around us. Even if it's just on an unconscious level (and I'd argue it's not so unconscious) we are trying to tell ourselves something: That the making of a dystopia is all around us.

The problem is that most of us don't know what to do about it. Our world is fast becoming a global society, which isn't bad in and of itself. But the second it starts to go off the rails, it's just too big and daunting an animal to tame. No one knows where to start. 

The dystopian stories we tell serve to show three very important core beliefs:

1) That things aren't as bad yet as they could become
2) That we have to hit rock bottom before we can rebound (most dystopian stories start at rock bottom, after all)
3) That once we get to the bottom, we'll have no place to go but up

This shows that, at our core, most human beings are logical, level-headed, determined, and retain their hope that we will always be able to rebound from anything we get ourselves into. 

And that gives me hope in our future. No matter how dark the dystopian story-telling gets. :D

Why do you think we're telling so many dystopian stories these days?


  1. Terminator II.
    Those are definitely some of the reasons. I also think because on the whole, a lot of people are losing hope.

    1. I agree, Alex. I think we all need reassurance that somehow, things will get better in the end.

  2. One of the classic exceptions for me is Brave New World. Though it's arguable whether it's a dystopia or not. It's like The Hunger Games but the bread and circuses are spread out a little more evenly. So maybe it's just a weird future novel. The person it's a dystopia to John, who comes from outside. Then it's all kinds of messed up!

    1. You know, I saw a TV movie version of Brave New World, and I actually liked the story a lot, though I'm not sure how true to the book it was. It's on my TBR list. One of the classic dystopias I've never read, but really need to. Thanks for input, Keith.

    2. Oh happy to be of service. Classic dystopias--I'd throw I Am Legend and The Time Machine up there, too, at least they influenced how I think about what humanity's future might look like. Richard Matheson's original zombie story has an odd sort of optimism that's lacking in The Walking Dead.