Dystopia vs Utopia
We were asked to consider whether the four videos (‘Bendito Machine III‘, ‘Thursday‘, ‘Inbox‘ and ‘New Media‘) are examples of Dystopia, or examples of Utopia. Also, to think about examples of dystopia and utopia in popular films.
I had a problem with the question because I don’t think of Utopia and Dystopia as being necessarily separate nor exclusive.
As far as the videos are concerned I saw ‘BM III’ and ‘New Media’ as Dystopian, ‘Inbox’ as Utopian (sort of), and ‘Thursday’ as neutral (and therefore neither).
There has been some discussion about why it is so difficult to find Utopian examples. I suggest that stories need to have an element of believability in order to be successful. On the whole, we don’t believe in Utopia – as something attainable – and therefore it will always appear false. Utopia exists in the same way The Garden of Eden exists, as something we can never get (back) to, something beyond the reach of humans. Where a Utopian future appears to exist in a movie, it is usually revealed to be a mask that hides the Dystopia beneath – we find this believable.
One or two people mentioned ‘The Jetsons’ as an example of Utopia. However, it is a very blinkered version of the future, and makes me ask what your life is like if you’re not White and American.
Star Trek: I gave this as my Utopia example. This future Earth is a place where sickness, poverty and war no longer exist. However, so little of the story actually happens on Earth that this is a purely idealistic viewpoint that is never fully explored. We are also told that between now and this mythical future, Earth was nearly destroyed by advances in technology (Eugenics Wars and a nuclear World War III), so we are still being presented with a Dystopian future first.
A Star Trek future is clean and shiny, which is more appealing that the grungy future portrayed by some other films – at least we already know that we can make our technology look pretty.