So many of our hit films show dystopias. This shows how we’ve changed.

Summary: America’s “can do” optimists have been replaced by a people who love visions of dystopias, and is governed by fears. Look at our hit films, mirrors of our true selves, to see this change. It explains why the reform of America has stalled, and what to watch to see when its time has come.

Earth in Space

Excerpt from “The Regrettable Decline of Space Utopias

by Brianna Rennix in Current Affairs, 11 June 2017.

Rennix is a far-left writer, Harvard Law Class of 2018, and Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Law Record.

“Sadly, utopias are presently out of vogue, as the tedious proliferation of dystopian fiction and disaster films seems to indicate. No genre is safe. “Game of Thrones” is the dystopian reboot of The Lord of the Rings; “House of Cards” is the dystopian reboot of “The West Wing“; “Black Mirror” is the dystopian reboot of “The Twilight Zone“. The slate of previews at every movie theatre has become an indistinguishably sepia-toned effluence of zombies, terrorists, and burnt-out post-apocalyptic hellscapes. Even supposedly light-hearted superhero movies now devote at least 3.5 hours of their running time to the lavishly-rendered destruction of major metropolises.

“There is clearly some deep-seated appeal to these kinds of films …. But my general feeling is that our fondness for dystopian narratives is a pretty nasty indulgence, especially for those of us who live mostly comfortable lives, far-removed from the visceral realities of human suffering. Watching scenes of destruction from the plush chair of a movie theater, or perhaps on our small laptop screen while curled up in bed, heightens our own immediate sense of safety. It numbs us to the grinding, intermittent, inescapable reality of violence in neglected parts of our world, which unmakes whole generations of human beings with terror and dread.

Enterprise-D

“Immersing ourselves in narratives where 99% of the characters are totally selfish also engrains a kind of fashionable faux-cynicism that feels worldly, but is in fact simply lazy. I say faux-cynicism because I don’t believe that most people who profess to be pessimists truly believe that humanity is doomed, at least not in their lifetimes, or in their particular geographic purviews: if they did, then watching a film that features the drawn-out annihilation of a familiar American landscape would probably make them crap their pants.

“But telling yourself that everything is awful, and nothing can be fixed, is a marvelously expedient way to absolve yourself of personal responsibility. There is, happily, nothing about an apocalyptic worldview that obligates you to give up any of the comforts and conveniences that have accrued to you as a consequence of global injustice; and you get to feel superior to all those tender fools who still believe that a kinder world is possible! It’s a very satisfying form of moral escapism. No wonder our corporate tastemakers have been churning this stuff out.

“And there’s no doubt that it’s often hard to make utopias seem dramatically sophisticated. Star Trek is renowned, even by those who love it, for being campy as hell. Moral tales in general are too often sugary and insubstantial. They’re suitable for kids, or maybe emotionally-stunted adults, but they’re not something to be taken seriously.

“We have come to view utopian narratives as inherently hokey, and preachy. But dystopias are, of course, their own form of preaching; they are preaching another hypothesis about humanity, which, due to moody lighting and oblique dialogue, has an entirely undeserved appearance of profundity, and the illusory farsightedness of a self-fulfilling prophecy. …”

——————– Read the full article! ——————–

This is a brilliant analysis of something I have written much about, as in We love scary stories. The reason why reveals a secret about America. Especially important is her description of how dystopias have replaced utopias in our fiction — doubly so in young adult fiction (e.g., The Hunger Games series, Maze Runner series, and the Divergent series). How does this affect our teens’ vision of their future? It cannot be good.

The Boomers’ love of dystopian fiction makes more sense. Our parents were not the “greatest generation”, but their accomplishments were awesome. From them we inherited high cards, which we have squandered. We leave America mired in foreign wars and slow economic growth, politically polarized, with massive government surveillance plus increasingly stringent codes controlling speech and behavior at schools and workplaces. Racial divisions are growing again. Inequality has risen back to peak levels of the Gilded Age.

We leave the Millennials a legacy of failure. We have made dystopia a possible future for America. That’s why we love The Force Awakens.

The first and last Star Trek series reveal our changed taste in futures

In the opening and closing sections of her article (not shown here), she discusses Star Trek as showing a utopian future — inadvertently showing one aspect of our problem. She gives recommendations, the first being “Make utopias popular again.”

“But we’ve seen a thousand narrative iterations of societal collapse: why not write some narratives about societal construction? What would a better world look like, at different stages of its realization — at its inception? Weathering early internal crises? When facing an existential threat? We should put more imagination into thinking about what this could look like, and how to generate emotional investment in the outcome.”

Rennix seems unaware that the original “Star Trek” (TOS) and the last, “Star Trek: Enterprise“, did exactly that. TOS describes the Federation, personalized by Captain Kirk, struggling to put its idealism into practice. Enterprise shows the birth of the Federation.

The three Trek series between these two were of all long duration, and mostly Leftist sermons. As a result Star Trek’s current audience is mostly on the Left (most people growing up in the last two decades have not even seen TOS). People on the Left hate both the first and last series, often passionately. They mock TOS. Perhaps attempting to mollify them, the Studio butchered the dialog when remastering it. They spurned “Enterprise.”

So we return to the original question. Why has American fallen in love with dystopias? Perhaps for the same reason that our leaders attempt to influence us largely through fear (as we see in the campaign to scare up support for policies to fight climate change).

Why do we no longer like stories about the long difficult process of building a better society? Perhaps because that requires work and responsibility for the nation, for the West, for civilization — two words we hate above all things. When that changes — and we enjoy stories about building utopia — perhaps the reform of America will become possible.

Fearful faces in the dark

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information about this see the posts about Star Trekabout fear, and these posts about fear

  1. Today’s conservative doomster warning (ludicrous but fun) — Paul Craig Roberts sees the End.
  2. Requiem for fear. Let’s learn from failed predictions to have confidence in ourselves & our future.
  3. Threats come & go, leaving us in perpetual fear & forgetful of the past.
  4. Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right.
  5. Collapsitarians and their doomster porn.
  6. A new survey reveals American’s top fears, showing our true selves.
  7. We love scary stories. The reason why reveals a secret about America.
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38 thoughts on “So many of our hit films show dystopias. This shows how we’ve changed.

    1. Nothing is written? No, everything is written but not everyone is reading it. People are attracted by dystopias for a good reason, they read the future all too well. Here are some of their visions:

      A society divided ever further by class, generation and gender, a loss of trust. Separated geographically and from human contact. An economy where anything that can be monetized or privatized, is.

      A state without privacy or space for protest, a surveillance and security state with a militarized police.

      A self-serving elite that exploits its middle and under class after it has run out of resources to exploit. Where human labor is increasingly replaced by machines or AI. A population of unnecessary people.

      A world full of despairing migrants and refugees with nowhere to go.

      Like

    2. KM,

      None of those things is unique in US history — or in US history. What is different about our time is that we see these problems, so much smaller than those previous generations of American faced and defeated — and whine about them rather than fight them.

      It is our passivity, apathy, and defeatism that is special.

      So I utterly reject your framing.

      Like

  1. FM-

    These fears are patterned throughout our history. For example, from the 1790’s-1800’s, Jefferson and Hamilton fought over aligning with England or France.

    Both published (either directly or through proxies) fearful accounts of choosing the others path. Some dystopias showed the return of Ceaser and monarchy. Others showed anarchy with mob rule.

    I’m not sure of the time that you are referring to when the US was led by hope rather than fear.

    Mike

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    1. Mike,

      Entertainment is a mirror — one of the few we have — to our views of the world, both for us and past generations.

      Look at the history of one genre — science fiction. Defined by hope and optimism. Starting in the 1970s it turned dark, and (with swings) stayed so.

      Look at young adult fiction (few Horatio Alger stories today), or TV shows, etc. Compare them to those of times when the US faced real existential threats — the Great Depression, WWII, the Cold War.

      The evolution is visible, obvious, dramatic.

      Like

  2. A true Trek fan loves TOS. I’m surprised by and disagree with your comment that those on the left hate TOS and Enterprise. Sure the series in between those bookends might be more properly leftist, but TOS was a pioneer for many leftist ideas, something I think many of us appreciate. It aspired to show humanity at its best. As far as Enterprise goes, I like Scott Bakula as an actor but he didn’t work for me in that show, and so I faded from it. But I’d never say I hate either. And I’m definitely a person with more leftist hopes than conservative ones.

    I’d love to find more utopian stories like those from my youth. I’m tired of the dystopian fiction and video entertainment. I was a huge walking dead fan and just got fed up with the never ending misery on that show (and terrible writing) and quit watching last year. I had watched, waiting to see the people start to rebuild. I was hoping the show wasn’t just zombie special effects and violence p-rn and would be about how humans band together in times of crisis. But it’s stuck in its dystopian element and to me isn’t worth watching anymore.

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    1. gbutera,

      Of course, I don’t have surveys to support my conclusions. But I’ve read a great many articles about both TOS and Enterprise — hence my conclusions. They don’t apply to each individual, but are intended as summaries of overall opinion.

      As for TOS, the modern Left’s dislike, even hatred, for it is visible in the way the studio butchered them when remastering them. How many other classics had radical cuttings when remastered?

      Like

  3. This is a excellent statement of an argument that I’ve been trying to make to others for years, with little success; a society’s entertainment affects the future much more than we admit, and the Boomers’ selfishness about their entertainment has done more harm than we realize. Entertainment does much to shape the future adult.

    Consider the changes in characters like Superman and Batman, who in the Boomers’ formative years were presented as helpers of people in need, confident in themselves and their life choices to use their abilities in humanity’s service.This is why those characters endured when others faded away. But the Boomers insisted that the characters ‘grow up’ with them, and we now see Superman as whiny and self-absorbed, and Batman as vicious, emotionally damaged and paranoid. It’s no wonder there was such mourning at the passing of Adam West; he represented a ‘Bright Knight’ who took Batman’s responsibility to help others seriously.

    The same is true of TOS. Today’s creators forget, if they ever knew, that the biggest star of TOS was not Shatner or Nimoy, but the Enterprise itself, which drew more fan mail than any of the actors did. People saw the ship as representing the better future we could build, using technology to help humans to improve life for themselves instead of just for military purposes [don’t forget the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the world faced nuclear war, was only four years in the past]. So they wanted to know more about the Enterprise and the technology aboard her. TOS inspired many to become scientists and engineers, and some of modern technology was created by those trying to make TOS’s technology into reality.

    That’s changed, too; many now see technology as the scourge of humanity even as society has become more and more reliant on it. Star Trek’s later producers cheerfully created and blew up one Enterprise after another, turning a symbol of a bright future into just another disposable space battleship. Meanwhile, the creators of the latest Star Trek: Discovery series have proclaimed that the new show is “a family and workplace show, with science fiction laid over on top”. Now, in the same setting where we looked to the stars, we have turned totally inward. What that says about us is not very good.

    Entertainment does indeed have long-term consequences. At its best, it inspires us to be better. In the crises ahead, the strength we should have built into ourselves to face them may not be there – and who will we look to inspire us?

    Like

    1. Paul,

      Thank you for that insightful comment! Esp about the role of the Enterprise in the series!

      I agree that the evolution of Batman is a fascinating display of America’s loss of self-confidence. The original concept was of Batman as a vigilante — a common response in America’s history to overwhelming disorder (albeit one with a mixed history of success and horrific evil). He buys time for Gotham to regenerate itself as a great city, as a shield behind which people like Commissioner Gordon can work.

      Contrast that with the new dark Batman. A bitter old Batman, seeing that his life’s work has been a failure — turned to methods he originally rejected — fighting with no hope of success in an irredeemably corrupt society. I hope this is the last generation of Batman stories, as they have become toxic for the young. Or perhaps this myth will be re-interpreted again for a new generation, restored to its roots — able to again inspire children.

      Like

  4. this assertion really requires a statistical analysis to be convincing.

    a few seconds of thought and research reminded me about literally scores of dystopian films beginning as early as the 1920’s (dr. mabuse and metropolis) and continuing ever after, including such efforts as modern times, on the beach, fahrenheit 451, clockwork orange, the day the earth caught fire, invasion of the body snatchers, the mad max series, logan’s run, no blade of grass, the 10th victim etc. etc.

    after 60+ years of watching movies i have no sense that the proportion of utopian/dystopian films has changed substantially over the decades. can you provide some meaningful statistical analysis to support this contention?

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    1. Jay,

      “this assertion really requires a statistical analysis to be convincing. ”

      You must not read much film criticism and comparative literature commentary. Almost nobody doing this has the resources to do that.

      “reminded me about literally scores of dystopian films beginning as early as the 1920’s”

      This is among the oddest and most generic of critiques: “that’s not new.” Few things in society are new. History consists in changes of magnitudes and frequencies. It is a reading FAIL. I didn’t say this was a new genre. I said what is unusual is that it has become so prevalent among the big hits — esp among the young adult films which used to be more optimistic in outlook.

      “after 60+ years of watching movies i have no sense that the proportion of utopian/dystopian films has changed”

      Wow. Well, OK then.

      Like

    2. Jay,

      A second, and smaller point. Dystopia: “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”

      Films like the later Batman series — in which Gotham is an irredeemable cesspool are depressing. Films like 1984 and Clockwork Orange describe dystopias. I would put disaster films in a separate category. They are more like horror films or funhouse rides. I doubt that many people are depressed by films about atomic devastation (“Mad Max”), a viral plague (“A Blade or Grass”), alien invasion (“Invaders of the Body Snatchers”), and the many many monster films (“Godzilla”).

      Horror films are both scary and depressing when the horror is likely. Such as the early Cold War films about nukes. For example: “Day the Earth Caught Fire” (1961), “On the Beach” (1959). By the mid-1960s that became increasingly unlikely (easily seen in the presentation of Soviet agents and officials as reasonable people, similar to our own). The Berlin Airlift and Cuban Missile Crisis scared everybody, and produced a radically cooling of Cold War hostilities.

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    3. Correction:

      “Almost nobody doing this has the resources to do that.”

      My info on academia is out of date. Computer databases, such as IMDB, might allow academics to do such studies. My impression — which might easily be wrong — is that now they’re obsessed with race-gender studies, rather than this kind of analysis.

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  5. “magnitudes and frequencies”–two fundamental statistical concepts–can not be established by anecdotal evidence no matter how aggressively stated. and, if you will read my response a tad more carefully you will note that i said nothing about what’s new or not new. i merely pointed out that your assertion of an increased frequency of dystopian films requires, ipso facto, a statistical assessment to be convincing to anyone who is not already convinced.

    baseball fans can argue all day about whether mays was a better player than mantle but, as any baseball fan knows, it all starts with the statistics.

    finally, there have been many statistical studies of film genre, content, casting, etc. you can find them quite easily.

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  6. FM,

    “Why do we no longer like stories about the long difficult process of building a better society?”

    Perhaps because this is the work most needed and entertainment about it feels like work? Like the professional athlete who doesn’t enjoy a casual ‘relaxing’ game. Who wants to relax by working?

    Also something to consider, the people who make America’s films are not the people who are the targeted audience. Could it be that America’s film makers are despondent? They have been enjoying a golden age.

    Interesting material.

    Like

    1. Cake88,

      That’s a thought-provoking comment. Off the top of my head…

      “Who wants to relax by working?”

      That would be an optimistic analogy — if it applied. The pro athlete does not like to watch what he does during the day. But Americans don’t work at reform (unfortunately).

      “Could it be that America’s film makers are despondent?”

      Now that’s an interesting idea, well worth thinking about. More broadly, are Leftists in general more despondent that those on the Right.

      Like

  7. I’d be curious what your thoughts are on the, for lack of a better word, “juvenilization” of adult media. By this, I mean all the children’s and young-adult literature that grown men and women are voraciously consuming (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, super heroes to a lesser extent, etc.) and, most cringe-inducing of all, trying to use as a lens for viewing the current political landscape.

    Seriously, when I see political pundits on social media talking unironically about the rise of Trump in terms of Dumbledore and Voldemort, I almost feel like we deserve to become serfs for the ultra-rich.

    Like

    1. ch1kpee,

      “what your thoughts are on the, for lack of a better word, “juvenilization” of adult media.”

      That’s on my list of things to write about. Look at the films of the 1950s and 1960s about adult themes. “Mogambo” (1953). “Hatari” (1962). “Night of the Iguana” (1964). “A Thousand Clowns” (1965).

      Now we get exciting film about gender-benders and thrilling films of the Socialist Realist School (ideological lessons for the the unwashed). Plus endless films about comic-book heroes (or heroes should be in a comic book).

      Why is this? I have not the faintest idea. Do you have any ideas?

      Like

  8. Batman has always, at his core, been about a rich guy beating up poor scum. He’s the revenge fantasy of the middle and upper classes against the nasty poor people. The best antidote to that sort of classest crap is savage parody, like the “Private Eye,” from the late 80s comic “Marshal Law.” When we see a Batman-type using his young wards for organ transplants and uttering lines like “I’ve pissed on you all….and told you it’s raining” and we cheer to a working class guy realizing the vigilante he idolized is a sadistic parasite and he chucks him into a meat grinder in a major Hollywood film, I think we will be closer to breaking the apathy that grips our nation. I would love to see Superman return to his roots as “one-man Wobbly squad” and start murdering war profiteers by chucking them over the horizon again, and trapping a mine owner and his clueless socialite friends in his own deathtrap of a workplace to create some sympathy for his employees.

    Say whay you want about the Hunger Games (I made it through about 10 pages of the first novel, and my reaction to the movie was “I liked this better when it was called “Battle Royale.”), it seems to inspire the best in my high school English students, as does the rest of the genre. These stories make them feel like they can fight and win. I should probably read more of these types of books, but I read enough journal entries about them to make me feel very familiar with the plots.

    “We” and “1984” (a book that was a childhood favorite of mine, but now I must admit it’s just a rewrite of the former, and possibly plagiarism) have been considered classics for many decades now. Many of my students consider “The Purge” as near documentary. The need for dystopias is indeed scary, but I think it is notable that the current strain now popular and aimed at young adults almost always shows “the good guys” winning. It’s things aimed at a wider audience, such as “The Walking Dead,” which seem determined to make the idea of long range optimism a sad joke. High school students certainly watch and read that franchise, but the more hopeful things are much more popular.

    Last time I posted here, you rightly chastised me for whining about problems instead of working for change. Would you care to offer some optimistic and intelligent reads for high schoolers that they would find palatable? I’m thinking about putting “Starship Troopers” on the syllabus this year as a good jumping off point to discuss civic duty and the role of the military. Seriously, my students could probably use a break from the unrelenting darkness that seems to dominate the tone of many of my selections. (My favorite poem is Poe’s “Alone.” I made my kids read Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model” also.)

    I grew up on TOS, and it’s still the best of Star Trek as far I am concerned. It’s the relentless and stunningly oblivious sexism which renders it camp, not the optimism. “Turnabout Intruder” is a sad and hilariously dated joke for me now.

    Thanks as always for me making me think, and not just pandering to my preconceived notions. When my two month pay hiatus is over, I will show my appreciation in a financial manner.

    Like

  9. Batman has always been the embodiment of middle/upper class revenge fantasies against the lower classes. He’s a rich guy who beats up poorer people, with the occasional upper class egghead twit thrown in, and the Joker as the ultimate evil sociopath who justifies vigilante tactics as the only hope against a tide of criminal evil. In the 80s, the ultra dark parody comic book “Marshal Law” had the titular character realize his childhood hero, the Private Eye, was a rich sadistic sociopath who harvested the organs from his young wards to stay young while committing hideous atrocities in the name of “fighting crime.” I think a film version is in order to purge the “Death Wish” Batman. Gotham seems a perpetual dystopia on screen, but we have yet to see the character himself shown in a truly distopian/deconstructed way in film. Maybe if the dark Batman was rendered ridiculous, we could get back to a less toxic hero. Sometimes the only way out is through.

    I am a high school teacher, and dystopias are quite popular with my students. However, I think it is notable that the majority of young adult dystopias, such as “The Hunger Games,” show “the good guys” winning! It’s the classic (e.g. “We” and “1984”–I used to count the latter as a favorite, but now I’m torn as it was largely plagiarized from the former) dystopias and those aimed at a broader audience (“The Walking Dead” ) which offer no hope at all. Many of my African-American students do seem to consider “The Purge” as a documentary, though, and who can blame them? Much of the young adult dystopia trend may be due to the fact that nerd culture is many times more acceptable among the young than it was in my day, the 1980s, (I would have killed for a manga/comic book section in my high school library like we have at the media center where I teach now) and dystopias have always been very popular in science fiction.

    The last time I posted here, you rightly blasted me for whining instead of working to make things better. Well, I try at my job to do my bit. Could you help a brother out on picking out some titles that are both intelligent, optimistic, and palatable for high school students? I am probably going to give “Starship Troopers” a try this year as it showcases some great ideas on duty, even if I disagree with many of the other ideas in there. Seriously, my students could use a break from my tendency to pick readings with very dark tones. My favorite Poe poem is “Alone,” and I made them read Lovecraft last year. They would appreciate some rays of sunshine.

    Thanks as always for making me think and not pandering to my ego. I try to emulate your style (while keeping my own politcal beliefs out of the classroom–80% would probably guess wrong if they tried to guess who I voted for in the last election) when Iam teaching.

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    1. I grew up on TOS, and it’s still my favorite of the franchise. Its not the optimism that renders it camp, it’s the omnipresent and completely oblivious sexism. “Turnabout Intruder” comes across as about as pathetic as any MRA screed of today to me now.

      Like

    2. Christopher,

      It’s so much fun to mock how people of the past fail to live up to our standards. But we too will be so judged by our descendents. Unless, of course, they grew wise — and realize the folly of mocking those on whose shoulders we stand.

      Like

    3. Shakespeare wrote centuries before Star Trek, had views about women that would “fail my standards” about sexual relations just as much as the 1960s, and none of what he wrote seems as stupid as “Turnabout Intruder.” Heck, the ancient Greeks treated women as near property, and I have never read any Greek drama as stupid on male/female relations as dumb as “Turnabout Intruder.” The story has the bitter reek of a man who was humiliated and bitter in his relationships with women, and that is not unique to any era. Much as the whole show suffered from Roddenberry’s tendancy to use female cast members as a personal harem and see them merely as sex objects, which shows up in everything from the costumes to the dumb valseline clouded close ups. The same tendencies turned Voyager and Enterprise into instant camp in later seasons (e.g. “Seven of Nine” and the “decontamination chamber/neural massage ” scenes). Its often painfully obvious when a male writter is either 1) totally unable to deal with women as beings with actual drives apart from pleasing a man, 2) a perpetual loser in the game of love who writes out perpetual revenge fantasies with lead male character as author avatar. Yes, I have read your screeds on the subject of emasculated men, but I thought Castle sucked from 30 seconds in, so they didnt really register with me. Watch better shows. They exist.

      None of this stops me from enjoying beautiful women on TV and film. I plan to read the Ian Fleming James Bond novels someday, and I am not an easily offended PC snowflake. I find some of Heinlein’s attitudes towards women antiquated, but they don’t come across as dumb-all his female characters seem real. Star Trek veered toward bimbots alot, even despite having a great female writter (Dorothy Fontana), and many shows still do. Being of a past era is no good excuse for bad writting and portaying women merely as empty shells waiting to be completed by the male gaze. Even hideously sexist societies have managed to create believable female characters in their fiction.

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  10. And one last thought–keep in mind most Golden Age comics were bought by adults. And most of them were total pablum. It wasn’t until TV got big that comics became kiddie stuff. Adult pablum moved to the small screen, and superheroes were hard to do on early TV, as the old Superman show shows. Now the small screen is the place for serious stories. I would put “The Wire,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Sopranos,” and “The Leftovers ” up against any of classic Hollywood in terms of storytelling, and the cinematography is often on the same level as well. The acting is better, or at least more appropriate for the medium than classic Hollywood acting, when actors were still doing “stage acting” which was exaggerated so as to let the people in the back row know what the character was feeling, even though it was totally unnecessary for the new medium.

    It still cracks me up, though, when even my “toughest” 11th graders express their love of Disney fims. Yeah, me and my nerd friends watched “Duck Tales” in high school, but that was strictly on the down low. Its just way more acceptable to be nerdy now.

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    1. Christopher,

      “keep in mind most Golden Age comics were bought by adults.”

      Your evidence for that statement?

      “It wasn’t until TV got big that comics became kiddie stuff.”

      Nope. From an article in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

      “When producer William Dozier was approached to put a Batman show on the air {in 1965}, he did research by reading stacks of Batman comics. He recalls the painful experience of being seen in public thumbing through these issues: “I felt like an idiot. So I read all these things and thought they [the network] must be out of their minds. It was all so juvenile. Then a very simple idea struck me and that was to overdo it. If you overdid it, I thought it would be funny to adults and yet it would be stimulating to kids.”

      Like

    1. OMG, I actually posted “do your own research” on a public forum? I’m a regular Rationalwiki.org reader too…

      I might have been feeling a bit testy after hours of yard work, then accidentally erasing my initial reply to your post that I worked on for about an hour.

      Next time, I promise to post a link to my assertions first thing, OK? Lord, any of my students could be reading this. I have an example to set.

      Again, keep up the good work, and thanks for keeping me sharp.

      (And some of “The Wire” and “The Leftovers” does compare well next to the Immortal Bard. And I stll get a kick out of TOS.)

      Like

  11. Fabius, in reply to your question about Lind’s Victoria, seriously a very good work, IMO. I bought it to study. As a companion book I also got “4GW Handbook” by Lind and LtCOL Gregory Thiel USMC.

    Reading Lind’s “On War” articles and you was what convinced me of my foolishness and error in thought.

    On another note, just saw the recycled revamped King Kong, Skull Island. Totally new story, no remake. This one takes place around 1971-72 during Vietnam draw down.

    This one has “deep Hollywood lesson”. Very interesting parallel.

    Enjoyed the movie. Won’t spoil it by giving detailed review. I think you’ll like it because there is definately 4GW thinking in dialog of 3 characters.

    You, Mr Lind and COL Chet Richards along with the rest of FM Blog have made me a better person and citizen.

    Like

  12. Not convinced.

    Dystopias have always sold. Either in print or film. If there was ever a generation that *should* have been wildly optimistic, it would have been the one that was making films during the 50’s, 60’s and even into the 70’s. But we all need something to worry about. When I was young it was imminent nuclear war and pollution of air and water.

    Pessimistic scenarios were de rigueur, Dark Star, Alien, Soylent Green, Silent Running, Phase 5 (worth a look if you’ve not already), Omega Man, The Forbin Project, Planet Of The Apes, The Day The Earth Caught Fire, Crack In The World, Them!, even Logan’s Run, Star Wars, WestWorld and The Parallax View…

    Don’t get me started on the liking for nihilist film endings a-la Electra Glide In Blue, Easy Rider.

    UK science fiction (in particular) was dystopia mad. Moorcock, Aldiss and Ballard leading the charge. UK TV had Doomwatch telling us that science was leading us down a path of disaster, and no series of Dr Who was complete without a wrecked society or three. Blakes 7 too (also worth checking out)

    It infected everything. I suspect we’d have seen far more on film, but it’s incredibly difficult to do convincingly at reasonable cost without digital effects…

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    1. Steve,

      “Dystopias have always sold.”

      You appear to see this as a binary question. It’s not. There have always been dystopias. But it seems that the number of them that is unusual today, and especially their prevalence in young adult fiction.

      Also, many of the films you list are not dystopias. Just because bad things happen in a film, that does not mean that the society in the film is a dystopia.

      • “Alien” is about an encounter with bad aliens, who are defeated.
      • “Crack in the World” is about a science project that goes wrong, and is fixed.
      • “Them” is about an outbreak of giant ants, who are defeated.
      • “Westworld” is about an amusement park gone bad.

      Like

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