TROPE OF THE WEEK: I hate my dystopic job!
Living in the hell-hole that is a dystopia – no matter if it’s
capitalist or communist – means that your characters hates their job.
They were forced into this position, but the government has been in
control for so long that there’s no means of fighting it, so no one
tries. Despite everyone hating their job, however, no one ever tries to
rebel against even this small facet of the world. Well, not until your
story begins, at least.
Why this can be bad:
This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. While of course the dystopic
government doesn’t want its people to rebel and may use fear to control a
populace, fear can only go so far. After all, the characters in the
dystopia also tend not to have any happiness or leisure outside of work,
either, and if they do, then it’s not anything significant. History
shows that unhappiness is the driving force in revolution, so if your
people can’t even be happy in their jobs, they’re not going to stay
there very long. That unhappiness will feed into other parts of their
lives, and before long, that dystopia is out, even if it’s just replaced
by a different one.
How you can fix it: For the most iconic examples, Brave New World and 1984 handle these issues in very different ways.
BNW diffuses any unhappiness in the populace’s work lives by pumping
leisure time full of drugs to keep citizens languid and content. If you
can’t make your people happy at work, you can at least make it happy outside of work, right? Oceania of 1984,
on the other hand, tries to grant some kind of fulfillment to its
people (or we can infer that, at the very least). Winston, who is the
most angry at and hateful of the government, manages to find pleasure
and satisfaction in his government-assigned job rewriting history,
despite hating that the government rewrites history. He finds an aspect
of it fun, and so while he’s angry most of the time, there’s a bit of
joy that can be found in his everyday life.
Bottom Line: A
government, even a dystopic one, wants its people to be happy because a
happy people will not rebel. Amend your world as needed.
Picture: Screencap from Dystopixelia by Kvantpant.