Dystopia – adjective    dys·​to·​pi·​an —  variants or less commonly dystopic
of, relating to, or being an imagined world or society in which people lead dehumanized, fearful lives : relating to or characteristic of a dystopia

I was clicking around Netflix the other day trying to find a movie that appealed to me. Since I like science fiction I naturally gravitated toward those. One of the most common words I saw in the descriptions was dystopian. Many movies were described in terms such as “In a dystopian world,” or “A dystopian tale.”

One of my favorite movies is Blade Runner, which I believe is the gold standard for dystopian[i]. Los Angeles is portrayed as a decaying derelict, although it does have many animated billboards flashing crass commercial messages. However, I don’t see the need for a plethora of depressing, hopeless dramas.

However, it is my opinion that creating a truly dystopian movie, in light of today’s reality, is going to be hard without it seeming like just another reality show. Everywhere you look—politics, business, international relations, medicine, etc. is, to put it bluntly, dystopian—as in fucked up. Otherwise, how can we explain the following:

  • Political parties that seem to believe that whoever tells the most lies wins.
  • Congress is willing to commit to expenditures, but when the bill becomes due, they balk at paying it.
  • One hundred fifty-eight years after the end of the Civil War, people still spout white supremacy and fly the Confederate battle flag (It is not the flag of the Confederacy).
  • Only about 7 percent of Americans have served in the military, yet we have too many people and groups claiming to be patriots or militias. In fact, over 71 percent of America’s youth aged 17-24 don’t qualify for military service. Only 1 percent are both qualified and interested in serving.
  • People actually believe that if a piece of information was on the internet, it must be true.
  • Although there were supply chain issues and inflation, some industries—including big grocery companies—are enjoying record profits, while poor Americans struggle.
  • Everyone decides that there is a huge difference between Us and Them. Notice how many groups add their own special color to the middle of the American flag as a symbol of that separation.

The sad part is that every one of these issues could be quickly resolved if people wanted to. Instead, far too many emphatically do not want to. Hence, Dystopia.

[i] The original author of the short story on which it is based, Philip K. Dick—who also wrote the stories that became Total Recall, Minority Report, etc.—died in relative poverty. How’s that for dystopian?

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