I’ve watched movies since I was not much more than 8 years old. I grew up on TV shows such as the Twilight Zone, Thriller, The Odd Couple, Gilligan’s Island, The Honeymooners, and a long list of horror & sci-fi films, too many to name. Horror and science fiction were what fueled my imagination and taught me many life lessons. I quickly fell in love with dystopian films that allowed me to see, with crystal clarity, the sort of worlds I hoped to avoid. Each film gave its spin on a future world where the proletariat accepted his/her oppressive lot without complaint.
During my more than 40 years of watching dystopian films, there was an understanding that lived beneath the surface of my psyche. It was a known element that I never allowed to surface until only a few days ago. There is one primary thread that runs through every dystopian film and book ever created; 95% of the people in these stories believe that their way of life was normal. They did not think they were in a dystopia.
This realization hit me like an avalanche, consuming my thoughts and filling me with unexpected fear. I wanted to disappear from this place, because I realized that what we are currently living is a dystopia. But like the characters in the films and books, we are so steeped in the culture we don’t realize that what we’ve come to accept as normal, most certainly is far from the case. Like many dystopian films, those living in it defend it, often to the death. Isn’t that our present condition? A great majority of the population defends our current way of life, or feel powerless to change things. The handful that do see the glaring issues are typically ostracized or labelled as crazy conspirators.
Essentially, we are living the dystopias we believe ourselves to be far removed from, merely because the many films and books are deceptively made to seem worse than our current conditions.
Loot at Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, V for Vendetta or Cloud Atlas. Each culture developed an ideology that the people were either forced or tricked into adhering to, often through generations of miseducation, misinformation, disinformation or simply exclusion of information critical to making an intelligent assessment of one’s own social and culture condition. Although the ideology was oppressive and socially enslaving, all but a handful could see it. The one or few who attempted to change things were treated like criminals attempting to over throw a “free” and “democratic” government, not the evident dictatorship that it was.
How could the “troublemakers” not see that Big Brother was not only legitimate, but needed by the people? The people protected Big Brother. Big Brother kept peace and order, evidenced by the lack of war on their doorsteps. Life was orderly. Systematic. War was made in other lands in order to maintain the demands of Big Brother. The world would be forced into submission by those in power, because only their way of seeing the world was legitimate.
Our dystopia may look different and feel different, but it is, nonetheless.
I won’t list the things about this culture I find abnormal and abhorrent given that it would take far too much time. But much of how we live is contrived and illusions we’ve created that hinder us from achieving real and effective planetary and individual growth—physical or spiritual. As a collective, as an Earth village, we are not doing well.
Look around. Think about how we live and imagine a better way. I don’t want to give in to the false notion that this way of life is normal or all there is. Normal for who? I won’t allow someone else to create or recreate my sense of normal. Too much is going on for us not to see that something is terrifyingly wrong.
© zaji, 2016