New series idea: Let’s Talk About… This series, as with my previous post about shlock, will talk about certain topics that deserve serious discussion. The topics will be totally random. This time around, since The Giver is coming out this Friday (expect a rant video if the movie is as bad as it looks) we’ll talk about dystopias.
Dystopian societies aren’t anything new. One of the first dystopian novels is George Orwell’s 1984, which practically every high school kid has read for class or will. If you never had to read this book in class and you live in Canada, America or any of the British countries, you went to a poor school. This book pretty much defines dystopia: a corrupt society where people live in fear and there’s no hope for change.
From this book there have been a ton of dystopian novels. Some of the more prominent ones are The Giver, The Hunger Games, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451. There are plenty of others, but they’re too many to list.
The big question is why do writers bother writing them and why do us readers bother to read them? It all boils down to fiction imitating life. What that means is that a lot of these books (the good ones anyway) take a scenario that society is afraid of and make it reality. Going back to 1984, that book shows a country where the government is so powerful that all residence is dealt with promptly and easily. Basically, a communist scare. Hell, Animal Farm shows what a communist society looks like. Granted it’s from the point of view of an Englishman living in a parliamentary democracy, but Orwell had plenty of knowledge with “reds.”
The Giver is a different kind of dystopia. This type is where people are ignorant of this fact and accept whatever the government tells them. Hell, here everything is regulated from the clothes people where, what job you have, how many babies are born and what you have for dinner. It’s total control but the masses accept it because they don’t know any better.
As you can tell, many of these book curb off of the idea of living in a repressed society such as communist or a totalitarian state. This fear does not just stem from those two types of governments. People feared succoming to the Roman Empire thousands of years ago. Today there is a fear of sucoming to terrorism or North Korea ( even though the North Korean military is woefully small that they have to rely on China if they start a war.)
As you can see, this genre is there as a warning of what might become. It’s basically telling people “hey, love your freedom? Stand up for it before things get really bad.” Yes, there are plots in them, but the message is the same no matter which book you read. Think of them as books that make you really think about what you have and how easily it is to lose it. Of course, most of the time stuff like this only happens due to people wanting it to happen because they though they were getting a better deal than what they had. I’ll stop right there because I don’t want to get any more political than that. This IS supposed to be a light-hearted blog after all.