This Article was written by Saoirse Cunningham-Watson year 9
‘The Hunger Games’, ‘The Maze Runner’, ‘Divergent’. These are all examples of dystopian fiction. Dystopian Fiction is a genre of fiction that is set in an alternate future universe where there is some form of social inequality. Google defines dystopia as, “An imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice”. In ‘The Hunger Games’ you have the fact that children are being sent into an arena to fight to the death; the main character fights against the government in an attempt to terminate the games. Now of course we are not being forced to kill each other but are there other aspects of dystopian worlds that are similar to the world today?
Firstly let’s look at a simple one: Poverty. One of the most distinct aspects of dystopian fiction is the fact that there are huge class divides between the rich and the poor. The poor people is the majority of the population with most of them wearing rags in plain colours. Meanwhile the rich are living in complete luxury with not a care in the world and having everything they want and need. They have designer clothes, huge, exclusive parties, live in luxurious apartments and houses and earn more money than they know what to do with. Sound familiar? If not then let me explain. Celebrities. They earn an enormous amount of money and spend it on themselves, they wear designer clothes and when we see them wearing “normal clothes” we wonder why they’re not wearing more expensive ones. They have exclusive after parties that only the rich and famous are invited to, they live in mansions and even if they live in an apartment they’re usually a couple million at least. Isn’t it scary seeing how similar a real life group of people is to a fictional class of people? If not then it should, not only that but what about the poor? Guaranteed not everyone else in the world is poor like in dystopian fiction but the ones who are, are just like the dystopian class.
We have spoken about the rich. Now let’s speak about the poor. In dystopian fiction the poor are represented as people who can barely afford to eat, who live on scraps and wear scraps as well. They wear rags that are pretty much threadbare and are in desperate need of a wash. They’ll usually die of hunger and malnourishment. If the people try begging for money the law enforcement will arrest them. If you are caught begging in Dubai you could be imprisoned for up to three months and fined five thousand dirhams or one of the two penalties. How does that work? You have to beg for money so that you can eat but if you’re caught you have to pay five thousand dirhams which is money you don’t have.
Now a big one…North Korea. A country that is literally isolated from the rest of the world and doesn’t release data or news about what’s happening inside. Sound familiar? In dystopian fiction the government doesn’t release any data to the outside world or to its people. They don’t want their people to know what’s going on because they don’t want to create panic or cause a revolution. Similarly in WW1 and WW2 when censorship was introduced. This was when the government wouldn’t release information about what was going on because they didn’t want to scare people and they didn’t want the enemy finding out that they were struggling.
Before a dystopian story begins the country is usually faced with a revolution or a war which changes society for the better or worse. The world today has faced two major world wars (WW1 was nicknamed the war to end all wars). The world has also faced a lot more smaller wars, not necessarily less damage but less known. These wars have changed the world and how people operate because of them. In dystopian stories there are also cold wars. The US Cold War was a war that lasted around 45 years. It was USA against the Soviet Union and their allies. One of the reason it ended was because the Soviet Union disbanded.
A big part of dystopian fiction is how the government don’t allow certain songs or books to be sold. They would have the police make sure that no one is listening to it or reading it. The punishment if you got caught was usually death however if you were rich you would most likely be able to pay your way out of a punishment. How different is that to todays world? Not too different actually! 11 episodes of The Simpsons have been banned for various reasons. 20 films have been banned in the USA. Most recently Saudi Arabia banned “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” because they wanted 12 seconds of footage removed. Disney refused so the film was banned in Saudi Arabia and around four other countries including, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and China. It was banned in China because briefly during a scene there is a newspaper that is against the Chinese Communist Party.
Did you know that Kinder Eggs are banned in the USA? A chocolate egg with a toy inside, meant for children. Banned. It’s because the chocolate has a toy on the inside which is banned by the government. Of course people aren’t killed if they’re caught watching these banned films and tv shows but it’s crazy to know that things have been banned in one country but are fine in another.
We are made to believe that dystopian fictions are these terrifyingly dark worlds which are completely different to ours but when comparing them we can see that there are a lot of small similarities that we don’t even notice. There is a strong reason to believe that the world is more dystopian than we think. Going back to how Google defines dystopia, “An imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice” The world today is definitely struggling with social injustice. For example how women don’t have equal rights and still don’t earn equal pay; discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement. This shows how our world is similar to dystopian ones. Even if it’s just because of the way we ban a song it makes our world more similar than different to dystopian worlds.