Redefining “Dystopia”

In my first blog post, I defined dystopia as the concept or practice of intentionally utilizing extreme conditions of control to oppress individuals for the purpose of creating a “perfect” society. Although I believe that this is an appropriate definition of a dystopia, the learning activities of this course have definitely made an influence on my general knowledge of dystopias, inspiring me to expand on its meaning. With that being said, after a semester of analyzing dystopian novels and films and dystopias of the past and present, I’d define dystopia as an oppressed society that lacks individualism and liberty and lives in constant fear due to the extreme conditions of control and oppression put in place by an oppressor. For example, the theocracy enforced by the orangutans in Planet of the Apes demonstrates their use of religion to control the rest of society. This dystopian society portrays one of Iris Young’s five faces of oppression: powerlessness. Chimpanzees and gorillas are ultimately powerless against theocracy as they are restricted of their speech and of the truth. Furthermore, this method of oppression and control indicates the fear that the chimpanzees and gorillas live in. In addition to Young’s “Five Faces of Oppression,” Sigmund Freud’s “Civilization & Its Discontent”contributes to my understanding of a dystopia and can also be applied to this dystopian film. Freud’s views on the sexual development of infants are used to promote individuality and to encourage going against the norms of society. In Ape City, it is evident that the chimpanzees are unable to act on their individuality as they are restricted of their actions and of their speech. In order for individuality to be preserved, Freud states that it is crucial to overcome the government that is responsible for putting it in danger. Although the chimpanzees didn’t really have the opportunity to topple the theocracy by the end of this movie, their efforts in attempting to go against it by supporting the truth indicate their opposition of their oppression. Dystopian novels and films like Planet of the Apes address some of the ongoing issues of our current society and brings to light the endless possibilities of what our future could hold. I think it’s important to discuss our knowledge of dystopias in order to raise awareness and prevent the world from getting more worse than it is now.

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