Dystopian futures have often been depicted in science fiction. George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and the more recent Hunger Games trilogy from Suzanne Collins are just a few well-known examples of a dystopian fiction. Dystopian novels and films have long been a popular part of sci-fi. As humans, we know that darkness looms within us, and human-built societal structures can either bring out the best or the worst in us. Anything we as humans build, after all, are reflections of ourselves. Those flawed systems benefit a select few at the expense of others. Personal liberties are curtailed in a myriad of ways, whether it be through a restriction of speech, of personal belief, of political power, of personal relationships, etc. In a dystopian society, poverty is often a fact of life, as those in power keep a majority of wealth for themselves.
Though I could perform an in-depth analysis of each kind of dystopian society portrayed in fiction, I would instead like to contemplate why people enjoy reading about them or seeing them depicted in film. Often times we indulge in fantasy to escape the real world, but dystopian fiction is hardly the type of fiction that promotes escapism. Perhaps reading about such a stark existence may help you to appreciate the things you have, but there’s something more to our love of these bleak scenarios.
Maybe we are intrigued by fictional dystopian societies because our world has its own history of them, and that kind of darkness that exists in our past intrigues us. Perhaps we simply like the see the hero or heroine of the story stand up against incredible odds and triumph. Who doesn’t like to see an underdog succeed, or at the very least, put up a brave fight until the bitter end? Perhaps it gives us hope to see that, no matter how bad things get, the better nature of humanity still shines bright.
Which elements of various dystopian futures do you see in today’s society? Why do you think dystopian stories captivate readers? What would you count as a dystopian society, taking into account that said society is creating a comfortable existence for some?
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