What is a dystopia?

A dystopia is a fictional concept of a society where the majority of individuals are oppressed under the rule of abusive and controlling authorities in order to maintain the sustainability of a declining environment. A great example of a dystopian society is present in the movie Snowpiercer. In this film, the last known survivors of Earth’s second ice age have to live out their days on a luxury train that runs continuously around the world. However, the train is divided into sections based on class where the poorest individuals reside in the tail end and the richest individuals reside toward the head of the train. This ultimately showcases the terrible living conditions of the low income society from being in overcrowded spaces to eating protein bars made from insects. The characters in the tail end also revealed how there was a time when they would kill one another, including babies, and resort to cannibalism due to starvation. This demonstrates the Hobbesian Jungle theory of humans being inherently selfish and Sigmund Freud’s theory about humans innate aggression. Under desperate situations where ones livelihood is at stake, humans will turn towards their instinctual behaviors and do anything necessary in order to survive. The film continues to reveal Young’s five faces of oppression by the use of extreme violence, exploitation of children, and the prevalence of discrimination of individuals based on hierarchy. Thus, dystopian elements in societies are more common than people realize, especially in the advanced technological, mass consumerism, and war-driven world we live in today. As mentioned in the “Dystopias Now” article, science-fiction dystopias today serve as a mere image for younger generations to realize the potential dangers that could become realistic if changes are not made to promote the sustainability of life and environmental safety. Nevertheless, dystopias advocate the importance of eliminating injustice, oppression, and discrimination in hope to killing the societies they predict. 

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