dystopias

6

[literature meme] • ½ genres

A dystopia is a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Dystopian societies appear in many sub-genres of fiction and are often used to draw attention to real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, economics, religion, psychology, ethics, science, and/or technology.

Yet with the upcoming release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, poised to be the biggest film of the year, it’s just as worthwhile to consider what these films don’t seem to fear. While recent dystopias warn youth about over-reliance on computers, totalitarian rule, class warfare, pandemic panics and global warming, very few ask audiences to think deeply about sexism and racism.

Which is strange. If the United States were to truly transform into a totalitarian state, or suffer an environmental catastrophe, it’s safe to say society’s deepest divisions wouldn’t magically disappear overnight. These dystopian adaptations ask their young audiences to imagine that race and gender issues have been partially overcome in the future, while general human suffering has somehow increased. The results feel false, and undercut the films’ attempts to comment on the present day.

2

Literature Meme: 2/3 Genres

  • Utopian/Dystopian society

The utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal society, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction is the opposite: creation of an utterly horrible or degraded society, or dystopia. Many novels combine both, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of two possible futures. Both utopias and dystopias are commonly found in science fiction and other speculative fiction genres, and arguably are by definition a type of speculative fiction.

The word utopia was first used in direct context by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 work Utopia. The word utopia resembles both the Greek words “no place”, “outopos”, and “good place”, “eutopos”.

Dystopia is defined as a society characterized by a focus on mass poverty, squalor, suffering, or oppression. Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world. Dystopias usually extrapolate elements of contemporary society and are read by many as political warnings. Many purported utopias reveal a dystopian character by suppressing justice, freedom and happiness.

The Dystopian Society

imaspectrum asked you:

Could you write about dystopian societies please?

What is a Dystopian Society?

  • An oppressed society masqueraded as a utopia through authoritative or authoritarian control in an imagined universe that are sometimes meant to address current social, political, or otherwise societal trends and issues in subtle ways.

What is Not a Dystopian Society?

  • An apocalyptic (ex: World War Z) or post-apocalyptic (ex: The Walking Dead) society or world that takes place during or after a massive disaster that caused the full collapse of a society or region, often resulting in “the end of the world”.

Characteristics:

  • Heavy control of the population through force, propaganda, fear, or other means set in place by the main power and its subordinates, often for the reason of keeping the society “perfect” and safe.
  • Strictly defined and sometimes segregated social ranks or systems in which it is almost impossible to move up.
  • Dehumanization for the sake of promoting humanity or society.
  • Characters are fearful of each other, other societies, or the central power and may be afraid to talk about it in fear of persecution.
  • Limited rights and strict laws that are said to be put in place “for the greater good” or to promote society.
  • Often futuristic
  • Massive conformity and ridicule against nonconformists by authority and/or by the general population.
  • Other extremes of oppression based on a multitude of factors, often certain traits or characters people are born with or common human activities (ex: dating or reading).
  • A central power that is praise, truthfully or out of fear, by the population.
  • High surveillance.

In a dystopia, the protagonist is often the character who feels out of place, is ostracized for some reason, or who realizes the issues of their society and dares to speak up about it. However, a secondary character may also introduce these ideas to the protagonist. These characters are rarely in positions of power and often start out as ordinary citizens who can easily be replaced. The trick with these characters is not to make them preachy when they speak out about certain societal aspects.

The antagonist is most often a character or a central power of some kind. However, the antagonist can be both thus making more than one antagonist.

Other common characters and archetypes include: 

  • The Reluctant Citizen (often the protagonist) - a character who is a typical citzen, but who finds faults in the society.
  • The Faithful Citizen - a character who is a typical citizen and who is faithful to the society
  • The Law Enforcer - a faithful citizen(s) or authority character(s) who acts as a lesser antagonist by enforcing societal norms and laws
  • The Catalyst - a character who helps the protagonist have an epiphany about the society and turn against it
  • The Outcast - a character, sometimes the protagonist, who is a nonconformist whether by choice or not
  • The Tyrant/Dictator/Leader - the central power

The majority of dystopian societies start from war, disease, or natural disaster. Within those reasons, there may be a history of an apocalypse and a post-apocalyptic society before organized societies took place after the disaster.

More:

Books:

You gotta remember, and I’m sure you do, the forces that are arrayed against anyone trying to alter this sort of hammerlock on the human imagination. There are trillions of dollars out there demotivating people from imagining that a better tomorrow is possible. Utopian impulses and utopian horizons have been completely disfigured and everybody now is fluent in dystopia, you know. My young people’s vocabulary… their fluency is in dystopic futures. When young people think about the future, they don’t think about a better tomorrow, they think about horrors and end of the worlds and things or worse. Well, do you really think the lack of utopic imagination doesn’t play into demotivating people from imagining a transformation in the society?
—  Junot Díaz, Art, Race and Capitalism

I thought with all the love going around for the Dystopian Genre I would put together a list of SOME of the books, movies, and TV Shows in the genre 

Books

  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (x
  • Catching Fire  by Suzanne Collins (x)
  • Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins (x)
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth (x)
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth (x)
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth (x)
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner (x)
  • The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (x)
  • The Death Cure by James Dashner (x)
  • Prequel The Kill Order by James Dashner (x)
  • The Host by Stephanie Meyer (x)
  • The Prince by Kiera Cass  (x)
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass (x)
  • The Elite by Kiera Cass (x)
  • The Guard by Kiera Cass (x)
  • Matched by Ally Condie (x)
  • Crossed by Ally Condie (x
  • Reached by Ally Condie (x)
  • Annabel Delirium 0.5 by Lauren Oliver (x)
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver (x)
  • Hana Delirium 1.5 by Lauren Oliver (x)
  • Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (x)
  • Raven Delirium 2.5 by Lauren Oliver (x)
  • Requiem by Lauren Oliver (x)
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (x)
  • Pretties Scott Westerfeld (x)
  • Specials by Scott Westerfeld (x)
  • Extra’s by Scott Westerfeld (x)
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry (x)
  • Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (x)
  • The Messenger by Lois Lowry (x)
  • Son by Lois Lowry (x)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (x)
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (x)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (x)
  • The Road by Cormac Mccarthy (x)
  • Fahrenheit 451  by Ray Bradbury (x)
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (x)

Movies

  • Hunger Games (x)
  • Catching Fire (x)
  • A Scanner Darkly (x)
  • A Clockwork Orange (x)
  • Blade Runner (x)
  • Children of Men (x)
  • The Matrix (x)
  • The Matrix Reloaded (x)
  • The Matrix Revolutions (x)
  • Minority Report (x)
  • Elysium (x)
  • Serenity (x)
  • RoboCop (x)
  • Planet of the Apes (x)
  • V for Vendetta (x)
  • Total Recall (x)
  • I Am Legend (x)
  • Cloud Atlas (x)
  • WALL-E (x)
  • Looper (x)
  • 2081 (x)
  • Oblivion (x)

TV Shows

Firefly

Season 1 Episode 1 (x) Season 1 Episode 2 (x) Season 1 Episode 3 (x)
Season 1 Episode 4 (x) Season 1 Episode 5 (x) Season 1 Episode 6 (x)
Season 1 Episode 7 (x) Season 1 Episode 8 (x) Season 1 Episode 9 (x)
Season 1 Episode 10 (x) Season 1 Episode 11 (x)  
Season 1 Episode 12 (x) Season 1 Episode 13 (x
Season 1 Episode 14 (x

Fringe

Season 1 Episode 1 (x) Season 1 Episode 2 (x) Season 1 Episode 3 (x)

Season 1 Episode 4 (x) Season 1 Episode 5 (x) Season 1 Episode 6 (x)
Season 1 Episode 7 (x) Season 1 Episode 8 (x) Season 1 Episode 9 (x)
Season 1 Episode 10 (x) Season 1 Episode 11 (x)
Season 1 Episode 12 (x) Season 1 Episode 13 (x)
Season 1 Episode 14 (x) Season 1 Episode 15 (x)
Season 1 Episode 16 (x) Season 1 Episode 17 (x)
Season 1 Episode 18 (x) Season 1 Episode 19 (x)
Season 1 Episode 20 (x)  

Season 2 Episode 1 (x) Season 2 Episode 2 (x) Season 2 Episode 3 (x)
Season 2 Episode 4 (x) Season 2 Episode 5 (x) Season 2 Episode 6 (x)
Season 2 Episode 7 (x) Season 2 Episode 8 (x) Season 2 Episode 9 (x)
Season 2 Episode 10 (x) Season 2 Episode 11 (x)
Season 2 Episode 12 (x) Season 2 Episode 13 (x)
Season 2 Episode 14 (x) Season 2 Episode 15 (x)
Season 2 Episode 16 (x) Season 2 Episode 17 (x)
Season 2 Episode 18 (x) Season 2 Episode 19 (x)
Season 2 Episode 20 (x) Season 2 Episode 21 (x
Season 2 Episode 22 (x) Season 2 Episode 23 (x

Season 3 Episode 1 (x) Season 3 Episode 2 (x) Season 3 Episode 3 (x)
Season 3 Episode 4 (x) Season 3 Episode 5 (x) Season 3 Episode 6 (x)
Season 3 Episode 7 (x) Season 3 Episode 8 (x) Season 3 Episode 9 (x)
Season 3 Episode 10 (x) Season 3 Episode 11 (x)
Season 3 Episode 12 (x) Season 3 Episode 13 (x)
Season 3 Episode 14 (x) Season 3 Episode 15 (x)
Season 3 Episode 16 (x)  Season 3 Episode 17 (x)
Season 3 Episode 18 (x) Season 3 Episode 19 (x)
Season 3 Episode 20 (x) Season 3 Episode 21 (x)
Season 3 Episode 22 (x

Season 4 Episode 1 (x) Season 4 Episode 2 (x) Season 4 Episode 3 (x)
Season 4 Episode 4 (x) Season 4 Episode 5 (x) Season 4 Episode 6 (x)
Season 4 Episode 7 (x) Season 4 Episode 8 (x) Season 4 Episode 9 (x)
Season 4 Episode 10 (x) Season 4 Episode 11 (x)
Season 4 Episode 12 (x) Season 4 Episode 13 (x)
Season 4 Episode 14 (x)Season 4 Episode 15 (x)
Season 4 Episode 16 (x)Season 4 Episode 17 (x)
Season 4 Episode 18 (x)Season 4 Episode 19 (x)
Season 4 Episode 20 (x)Season 4 Episode 21 (x)
Season 4 Episode 22 (x)

Season 5 Episode 1 (x) Season 5 Episode 2 (x) Season 5 Episode 3 (x)
Season 5 Episode 4 (x) Season 5 Episode 5 (x) Season 5 Episode 6 (x)
Season 5 Episode 7 (x) Season 5 Episode 8 (x) Season 5 Episode 9 (x)
Season 5 Episode 10 (x) Season 5 Episode 11 (x)
Season 5 Episode 12 (x) Season 5 Episode 13 (x)

The Walking Dead

Season 1 Episode 1 (x) Season 1 Episode 2 (x) Season 1 Episode 3 (x)
Season 1 Episode 4 (x) Season 1 Episode 5 (x) Season 1 Episode 6 (x)

Season 2 Episode 1 (x) Season 2 Episode 2 (x) Season 2 Episode 3 (x)
Season 2 Episode 4 (x) Season 2 Episode 5 (x) Season 2 Episode 6 (x)
Season 2 Episode 7 (x) Season 2 Episode 8 (x) Season 2 Episode 9 (x)
Season 2 Episode 10 (x) Season 2 Episode 11 (x)
Season 2 Episode 12 (x) Season 2 Episode 13 (x)

Season 3 Episode 1 (x) Season 3 Episode 2 (x) Season 3 Episode 3 (x)
Season 3 Episode 4 (x) Season 3 Episode 5 (x) Season 3 Episode 6 (x)
Season 3 Episode 7 (x) Season 3 Episode 8 (x) Season 3 Episode 9 (x)
Season 3 Episode 10 (x) Season 3 Episode 11 (x)
Season 3 Episode 12 (x) Season 3 Episode 13 (x)
Season 3 Episode 14 (x) Season 3 Episode 15 (x)
Season 3 Episode 16 (x)

Season 4 Episode 1 (x) Season 4 Episode 2 (x) Season 4 Episode 3 (x)
Season 4 Episode 4 (x) Season 4 Episode 5 (x) Season 4 Episode 6 (x)
Season 4 Episode 7 (x) Season 4 Episode 8 (x) Season 4 Episode 9 (x)
Season 4 Episode 10 (x) Season 4 Episode 11 (x)
Season 4 Episode 12 (x) Season 4 Episode 13 (x)
Season 4 Episode 14 (x) Season 4 Episode 15 (x)
Season 4 Episode 16 (x)

****All links work as of April 25th****