What’s the fascination with Dystopia?
I was looking for new reading material the other day and a realization dawned on me: there are stinkloads of dystopian books out there. The YA genre is stuffed with them, with titles like The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Enclave, Divergent, etc. It’s the new craze, now that wizards, vampires, Greed gods, goblins and Hobbits are old hat.
Adults have their own dystopia, with titles like World War Z, The Passage and the sequel The Twelve (which I am reading right now and thoroughly enjoy), and oldies like Lucifer’s Hammer and On the Beach. I read those last two in high school and they’ve stuck with me all these years. I was a child of the 80’s, so my dystopia was a war-driven post-apocalyptic one (usually nuclear) brought on the the mutual annihilation fears born of the Cold War. Mad Max, Red Dawn, Escape From New York, Terminator, etc.
What’s our fascination with the end of society or civilization as we know it? There are even TV shows about people prepping for large scale disasters, and the stigma that used to go with that has largely faded; people don’t seem shocked by the idea that others are considering the possibility that things could really head south. Hell, the state of Wyoming even commissioned a study to figure out how they’d get along in the event of a political or economic collapse that left the federal government powerless (or unwanted!). Might have to start looking into buying land out there… The recent zombie craze seems to indicate a growing cultural curiosity about the days after the world heads down the crapper. Until The Walking Dead on AMC, how socially acceptable would it have been to have a watercooler discussion about your plans to survive a zombie apocalypse? I personally have a plan in place and am totally prepared, by the way. Don’t come knockin’, that’s all I’m saying. 🙂
Do you wonder how you personally would handle the situation? It’s an insightful exercise to daydream about how you’d take control and hold everything together. We all want to be in charge of our own destinies, maybe even learn how to be a hero, but it’s probably not going to happen in most of our safe, uneventful lives. Now, though, if a plague wiped out half the population and the other half were barbaric cannibals, you could imagine with little guilt how awesome you’d look as you blew up/gunned down/beat senseless the chaotic hordes as you did your job to keep your family and friends safe. They say that adversity brings out our true character, that only under that sort of test can one find out who one really is. Wouldn’t we all like to believe we’d rise to the occasion, be honorable and badass at the same time, and that we were capable of being a worthy leader?
So, what movies/books did I miss on my list of dystopia/post-apocalypse material? Is there something really amazing out there that I should read or watch? Any suggestions appreciated, since I’m always looking for something new to consume.
Tags: author, cold war, dystopia, end of civilization, hunger games, lucifer's hammer, mad max, maze runner, on the beach, plague, post-apocalypse, prepper, Red Dawn, the passage, the twelve, Walking Dead, World War Z, writing, Wyoming, zombie
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