Dystopian Futures (Turned Political Rant)

It was a strange experience to read the Divergent trilogy at the same time as watching The 100 at the same time as listening to the audiobook Cinder. All three give far-future versions of earth, and there are disturbing similarities.

Every future earth has divisions of people: people who are judged better or worse than each other, people who are categorized as equal or inferior. In the Divergent trilogy, the Erudite faction criminalizes the Abnegation faction; then the Factions faceoff with the Factionless; then people are separated into Divergent and Non-Divergent, and judged on their genetic material.

In The 100, there are people on the council and people who are not; people who are allowed to live, and people who get floated. The 100 is a group of criminal youth who get jettisoned to earth while the rest of the population is still orbiting in space. Once The 100 start getting a feel for the planet, they come up against Grounders, Reapers, and later, Mountain Men. The Mountain Men call Grounders “savages,” and the tone is very reticent of WASPy comparisons like “heathens” versus the “civilized” western folks who are bent on colonizing and erasing anyone who doesn’t share their “civilized” western culture. (That’s mainly my take on Britain and America, the colonization part isn’t in the show so much.) But even from the first episode, Octavia and Bellamy are seen as Other because they are siblings in a time when strict population control means no one is allowed to have more than one child.

In season two (the season I just finished) Clarke faces a group who seem friendly enough on the surface, but she suspects they’re hiding dark secrets. Meanwhile, the adults from the space stations are trying to treat The 100 like kids again, even though The 100 are the ones who know the most about how to live on the surface.

And then there’s Cinder. Our main character is reviled for being cyborg, or part machine. She’s also poor instead of rich, and tomboyish (mechanic with grease stains) instead of aspiring to be more princess-like (silk gowns and pearls and such). There’s a planetwide prejudice of Earthens harboring hatred for Lunars. And there’s a class difference between Cinder as a member of the kingdom and Kai (her love interest) as a member of the royalty.

If you’re interested in dystopian futures, check out this cool blog post that talks about Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games and more. And, of course, watch the new Mad Max movie. Because it is fucking awesome.

So. Our modern literature and our modern media (all aimed at teens, in the above cases) teach us that difference doesn’t make us less-than, and prejudice is wrong and stupid. In fact, we’ve really been saying it since forever (in literature and media that goes way back). Judging people based on the color of their skin or the customs of their culture is ignorant, short-sighted, and only leads to suffering. It feels like Everybody should know this by now. So how the fuck do we end up with a guy like Drumpf as our president, who literally embodies everything wrong and evil and gross in our country? We The People are (supposed to be) better than this mess. I wish we’d start acting like it.

Jobe

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