Our world is not perfect. We have crime, natural disasters, homelessness, economic struggles, Honey Boo Boo, Fox News, and Christmas carols playing in mid-November. But it could always be worse.
We could be living in a dystopian future, like that presented in the upcoming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire or countless other books, movies, comics, games and even concept albums. The details vary but the litany of human horrors – mass starvation, random imprisonment and torture, forced prostitution, absolute corporate or government control of thoughts and movement – make your DVR not recording your favorite show, getting pulled over for driving 3 miles over the speed limit or other “FML” moments look like rare treats.
There’s one thing these imagined futures all have in common: they all suck. A lot. Still, even among the myriad of human miseries, there’s always some fun to be had (at least for someone). In the same way that hundreds of security cameras in London may cause worries about privacy but also provide a constant audience for spontaneous song-and-dance routines. It’s with this state of mind that we tried to look at the bright side of pop cultural dystopias that, despite how utterly horrible they really are, could be kinda fun – “fun” in a sarcastic sense, of course.
So before anyone gets all angry and pelts vicious comments about being sexist for mentioning The Handmaid’s Tale or racist for making sarcastic comments about Bioshock Infinite, remember we’re not being serious here.
The Hunger Games / Catching Fire
Oh, those poor people from the Districts? Who cares when here in the Capitol we can dye our skin turquoise, have hallucinogenic flying terriers and make snotty kids fight each other for our amusement?
Brave New World
No more forgetting someone’s name the next time you see them, saving for retirement or fretting about fulfilling your personal potential, and whenever you tire of secure employment in the perfect job, lifelong youth and endless recreational sex, just take a soma holiday. It’s what you were born to do.
In our world, there’s little to explore. Even less to call our own. In the black, there are whole unclaimed worlds. I can ride my horse through the docking bay of my spaceship onto my frontier claim while wearing a pretty floral bonnet, cursing in Mandarin and firing a laser pistol. And ain’t no damn soul gone tell me otherwise. Shiny.
Metropolis (Metropolis Suite I: The Chase, The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady)
Count us in for any dystopia with Janelle Monáe on center stage. A mixture of the 1927 silent film and the American civil rights era, turbulent times have always produced great music. Android repression and upheaval have never sounded so funky, yeah! Now shake what your maker gave ya, before it gets recycled.
Total corporate control, no crime, a brutal sport substitutes for war and population control, everyone is provided all the food they need and hey free Prozac but we just can’t ask any questions, ever. So where do we sign up? Oh that was a question. NOOOOOOOOO!
Sure there’s mass deregulated privatization, snipers at malls and weapons everywhere (uh, sound familiar?) but there’s mafia ninja pizza delivery and the Metaverse: a three-dimensional virtual city of night clubs, monorails and personalized avatars with impossibly constructed hair. Beats the hell out of your stupid Google Glass.
Children of Men
On the one hand, humanity is doomed, terrorists have become more rampant and Michael Caine is a weird, long-haired hippy. On the other hand, no more worries about birth control!
Behind on student loan or mortgage payments? Bad credit? No credit? Not anymore!
The Handmaid’s Tale
Sure, women will have it rough, what with the forced reproduction or infertility and constant paranoia of being exiled or hung by a hook to die, and we’ll all miss non-reproductive sex, but hey if you’re a sexist male pig of the ruling class you’ll be fine!
Roaming the war-blighted landscape while listening to Billie Holiday, sipping on irradiated soda and munching gecko meat, now that’s the life. And if anything horrible happens, just sleep it off. Stepped on a landmine and got your legs blown off? Take a nap! In one hour, you’ll be good as new.
Ghost in the Shell
Mental and physical augments, cool! Hey, how can do I say, “No, I’m allergic to shellfish” in Greek? Oh wait, I got it. Can you help me get those shoes off the telephone lines? Oh wait, I got’em. Gimme a hand moving this truck out of the w… oh wait, I got it.
Everyone gets to be perfect. Except Ethan Hawke. Natural-born sucker.
Who reads books these days? There are 500 channels of TV to watch and all the best stories are made into movies anyway. Besides, we can finally be rid of all copies of Twilight, The Shipping News, Ann Coulter books and unnecessary television tie-ins and video game novelizations. In fact, move over, we’ll burn them ourselves!
Community (Season 4, Episode 13: “Advanced Introduction to Finality”)
All right, so Jeff loses an arm, Troy needs an electrolarynx after eating a flaming Troll doll and Britta has an annoying goth hair streak, but there’s no Pierce and dark Annie is hot. Far better, there’s a chance that Season 4 never happened.
The replicants have it pretty bad, and almost all the animals are extinct, but all things considered, you gotta admit, life is pretty good if you’re a human. If you’re a human.
Yeah, there’s tons of shiny technology, holographic computers, self-driving cars and sticks that make people vomit but mostly I’d kill for a crime free society. Errr… I mean… not kill… wouldn’t ever… pleasedon’treadme.
Come one, come all (well not all but you know what I mean) to a place free of darkness and doubt. It’s paradise in the clouds! It’s literally Heaven! As long as you’re white, straight and Christian. You know, just like all real Americans, as defined by the Heritage Foundation.
I know I shouldn’t – ow – but I can’t help comparing myself to other people. –Is that a jet engine?— But now no one will ever be smarter, faster, stronger or more handsome than me again. I’d say more but this damn siren is giving me such a headache! GOD THAT WAS LOUD! What was I saying?
Y: The Last Man
Only man left in a world full of women. Yes, please.
Riding everywhere in a hover chair, fast food and drink dispensers, television screens affixed in front of you, machines to play tennis so you don’t have to and an army of servants to cook, clean and scoop your blubbery butt up if you fall out of your luxurious seat. Plus, at your high school reunion, everyone will be just as fat as you are. That’s the American dream.
I think every dystopian society is more “fun” for somebody. The problem is that it is for the selected few. The rest are unhappy but most will just keep their heads down and keep going. The society is only truly frightening when viewed by an outsider. That’s why we need dystopic novels. We need them see how things are in our own society.
You’re absolutely right, Grace, which is why this is mostly a satirical post as we obviously don’t think a world that’s fun for only the few is really a desirable thing. Come to think of it, “fun for only the few” sounds quite a bit like our world too, doesn’t it? 😉