- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
If Today Myopia, Then Tomorrow Dystopia
"Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world; where
none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept
the program. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your
perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through
suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept
trying to wake up from."
Utopia is defined as a perfect world and as Agent Smith (The Matrix) said: The perfect world was a dream the human race?s sub-consciousness would keep trying to wake from. Subconsciously, the human race knows that utopia is unachievable through the powers of men. Imperfection cannot ever bring about perfection. Dystopia, however, is the quintessential imperfection. Dystopia can easily be defined as a place where things are not well or as a wretched place that is not an ideal setting to live (Hermansson); or opposite utopia. In many dystopian arts, cliché³ manifest threads and fabrics stitched together which forge the sinister trench coat that is dystopia. Although the theme is not familiar, the concept is.
There are many versions of dystopia: metropolis buildings, corruption of governments, perhaps a post-apocalyptic terrain of nuclear debris; the list goes on. It is arts giving an eerie feeling that the future might not be as bright as expected; the art that made thinking about daily routine questionable and art that showed reality as we know it, a fabrication (The Matrix). That sensation sitting within society?s bowels is dystopia. Ultimately, dystopia is the world that everyone fears, and yet, unknowingly awaits. It is the grim reminder which utopian activists cling to for motivation and coercion.
Among the many cliché³ of dystopia, an important feature is the overwhelming impression of control. An incontestable truth is that human nature is to control. An example in literature of a human control is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World's character Mustapha Mond the World Controller for Western Europe, who is in charge of the mass production and designing of humans. Non-human control can be many things: from the Machines of The Matrix or even the watch worn by Herald Crick in Stranger than Fiction. With the response of oppression dire to the controller, one must choose between two paths a) submission and enslavement or b) resistance and becoming an enemy of the state. Although neither of these is a grand path, the more glamorous doesn?t seem the path of resistance as many films depict the resistance in tattered clothes and unstable housing, often building every day commodities from waste such as sheet metal, sign posts, etc. With impossible odds, the resistance struggles with their ambitious efforts to resist or to bring down the "system". Control is most often stirred at government. There are many forms of government: monarchy, dictatorship, democracy, theocracy, anarchy and more. All of these (except anarchy) could have great affects on a populace if corruption wasn't a disease rampant with many political leaders, not just in the future or present but in the past as well such as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Many times, because of oppression, a people will detach from the mother, or kingdom, and create their own domain as the pilgrims did from Great Britain or the Hebrews from Egypt. When oppression clutches a population in a vise, there will always be followers and resisters distinct only by one way: by the path they chose.
Soma, books, sex, television, and other numerous nouns have made drastic effects on dystopia. In several dystopian arts, they have been many things that are considered contraband or even outlawed, while others are excessive and extreme. Like in Brave New World the hallucinogenic drug soma and sexual activities are widespread unlike the film Demolition Man depicting the future without sex or harmful drugs and even swearing is illegal. A popular choice for excessive activity is violence. A large feature of a dystopia is violence: the fear of being punished, beaten and killed could silence anyone thinking to resist. In the video game
Half Life 2 a character undercover as a Civil Protection Officer exclaims, "They're starting to suspect" [For] "I've been down on my beating quota." Dystopia without some form of violence could be considered an M. Night Shyamalan film without a twist element. As Ronnow stated about what could be the excessive feature in a dystopian America would be weapons. With Trolley Square and Columbine, fear shall cause people to turn to guns for safety. Another example is Ray Bradbury?s Fahrenheit 451, where owning a book would earn severe punishments and the books would be burned. Another instance in Fahrenheit 451, are the large TV's expanding the size of walls within the "parlors", and probably within the Parade of Homes, which Mildred watches non-stop. "TV is the best and worst thing that has happened to society." (Ronnow). Throughout dystopian arts, excessive or outlawed substances and tendencies are further used to show how society today will affect society tomorrow.
Dehumanization is another feature of dystopia. In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, humans are grown in test tubes and "de-canted" with pre-engineered features. The workers, who wear khaki, are deprived of an X amount of oxygen to undeveloped their brain power. Some are constantly spiraling so their equilibrium will be precise only when flying in helicopters which are in constant movement and disorientation (Huxley). Another form of dehumanization is the virtual reality of The Matrix; where people live their lives in a dream realm. Then their body heat is harvested to power the machine race in the actual world (The Matrix). When huge buildings shadow the human race below dehumanization is present as a proportion. Tiny insignificant humans compared to over 100 floor buildings where people are not spreading away from each other but building on top of one another causing massive over population per capita. An example would be Soylent Green, which details the 40 million residents of New York City with limited food, so synthetic foods are created (Member of the Public).
"Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing? (Rollo May). As technologic communication becomes faster and faster and more convenient the actuality of speaking face to face shall deplete (Member of the Public). As any lover of literature would agree, reading increases a vocabulary. Vocabulary determines conversation. Like done in Fahrenheit 451, with books being exiled, ideas and vocabulary would lessen and in due time create a people that could be molded through their ignorance. Not to mention, current youth?s handwriting has gone from sloppy to indecipherable from either not reading enough literature or not being exposed to sufficient literature to decode what letters are supposed to look like. So therefore communication will end in either of two ways 1) people will stop reading books or 2) the need for formal communication will decrease until nothingness. Then if not until nothingness then society could learn to communicate in different ways even in a different language, a metropolitan language (Ronnow). In the past, as the Tower of Babel fell, languages centrifuged and scattered across the land but now in the future, ironically, languages could come together centripetally.
A set of processes leading to the integration of economic, cultural, political, and social systems across geographical boundaries; the definition of globalization and another key feature that would ensure a dystopian era. One aspect required in nature is diversity, globalization does not allow this. Globalization eliminates different cultures and politics and unites them beneath one roof of egalitarianism. As in Harrison Bergeron equality comes at a terrible price, the price of uniqueness. As seen around the world, languages are depleting and cultures dying as the old pass their stories to their young. What is most devastating is the non-acceptance of others beliefs and cultures due to bigotry or common indifference. Through centripetal forces cultures will blend together matching and mismatching taboo and normality until many unique and distinct ways of life shall become extinct and a new metropolitan culture will ascend.
Ronnow stated about dystopia, [Dystopia is] ?probably more thematic stating that our world is heading in a direction that maybe we don?t want it to go and why is that happening? I don?t think people ask themselves that. I don?t know if they don?t want to know the truth or they don?t know where to find the truth.? Another quote by Aldous Huxley says, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you angry." Why would the truth make someone angry? Does the truth hurt? Or does the truth shall reward freedom? There are many truths within the world: the sun will come out tomorrow, law of the harvest, and if life gives you lemons, squeeze them into somebody?s eyes, but a definite truth is that dystopia is inevitable. As written earlier, utopia is unachievable, but dystopia is not. But if that is so then what can a society do? Nothing? No, what needs to be done is to prolong dystopia with all strength. Ronnow gave three excellent scenarios that would prevent a dystopian era:
Case One: Education. ?Education [and] knowledge are power. Education? is the key to almost everything and ? the ticket out. [What kind of education?] Just a chance, a chance to go to school someplace and learn how to read? Education will solve many, many problems? (Ronnow).
Case Two: Giving Back. ?You just hope that people want to give back to their community? that?s the opposite of dystopia. ?I want to help the community become better? is the opposite of people who are afraid of things they don?t understand. (Ronnow)?
Case Three: Preserving Cultures. Passing along the beliefs of ancestors is crucial to stopping globalization. Acceptance and tolerance of others cultures without bigotry or indifference can extend a better world. As Theodore Roosevelt said, ?Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.? If everyone would give back to their communities? using these cases then communities would strengthen, cities would strengthen and states would and so on.
Numerous people think lightly of the dystopian theme when in actuality they should be engaged in defending our world from it. Ronnow said in response to the question: Are people slowly moving toward dystopia subconsciously, saying ?I think we?re all doing that because we like what we like. We like to use the things that make our lives more convenient.? Dystopia shall not be pretentious and boisterous as it parades into our society on an ostentatious float, but will sneak throughout the alleys of darkness and shadows leaking through the cracks of our society into the depths of our national soul. Like the works of the Devil dystopia shall come; subtly is most affective as are chisels upon a sculpture. Then suddenly Michelangelo?s David is finished and our values are distorted and the status quo askew. Utopia through man is naï¶¥ and impossible. Dystopia is most certainly achievable and in most ways inevitable. For dystopia can easily be defined as a place where things are not well and also as a wretched place that is not an ideal setting to live; opposite utopia. In many dystopian arts, cliché³ manifest threads and fabrics stitched together forging the sinister trench coat that is dystopia. In agreement with Ronnow, all good literature should teach us about being human. Reading about someone and their struggles helps us empathize and learn. Reading increases vocabulary, vocabulary is education and education can save us from dystopia. How we live today affects tomorrow. Shortsightedness cannot be a standard for divination. When dystopia arrives, do not ask who brought it. Do not ask what caused it. Do not ask why it came. Do not blame. Do not curse. Do not murmur. For the reason dystopia is here can only be found in one place: the mirror. And remember: ?Big Brother is watching?? (Orwell)
Demolition Man. Marco Brambilla. Perf. Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock.
Warner Bros. Pictures, 8 October 1993
Hermansson, Niclas. ?Exploring Dystopia? 26 Feb. 2008. < http://www.dystopias.tk/>
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Garden City: International Collectors Library, 1932
The Matrix. Andy and Larry Wachowski. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-
Anne Moss. Groucho II Film Partnership, 31 March 1999.
Member of the Public, ?The Dystopian Novel? 26 Feb. 2008.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: New American Liberty, 1949
May, Rollo. 30 Feb. 2008.
Ronnow, Patricia. Formal interview. 22 Feb. 2008
Snarkerati, ?Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time? 25 Feb. 2008.
Soylent Green. Richard Fleischer. Perf. Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connor.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) 9 May 1973.
Stranger Than Fiction. Marc Forster. Perf. Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson.
Crick Pictures LLC, 10 November 2006.
Roosevelt, Theodore. 30 Feb. 2009.
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. ?Harrison Bergeron? USA: Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1961.