How I Define Dystopia Now

At the beginning of the semester, I defined a dystopia as “a society that controls and governs what people have access to, what they look like, and what they are allowed to say.” Although I still believe that is a dystopia, I think that it is more of an example of dystopia rather than a definition. Now I would define a dystopia as a real or imagined society, usually created around a traumatic event, where at least one group of people are suffering by the government or another group of people.

If you look at most dystopian films are books, they are created after a traumatic, once in a lifetime event. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the Republic of Gilead was created after the U.S government was overthrown. Likewise, in Brown Girl in the Ring, the novel takes place in Toronto after the economy collapsed. While it is possible for a dystopia to be created without such events, it is a lot more likely for it to be created in response to those events. When a society is at its lowest it is more susceptible to be taken over by dystopian ideologies.   After this semester, I no longer thing of dystopias in an extreme view. Most movies and novels create very extreme forms of dystopias that make it difficult to believe that real world dystopias do exists. This is why I mentioned that dystopias can be real or imagined in my definition. I also do not believe that an entire society have to be suffering or oppressed in order to be considered dystopian. As long as at least one group in a society is oppressed, that society can be called dystopian. Their suffering should not go unnoticed just because it may be the minority. Not all dystopian societies have controlling governments, some are lawless. These societies can display the characteristic of the Hobbesian jungle depicted in the song “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. They are living in a world of chaos and oppression and trying to escape the animal like tendencies of man when there is no government.

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