Is It Time To Stop Making Dystopian TV Shows And Movies?

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Dystopian fiction is nothing new. For centuries, people have written about potential futures or alternate realities where things are much worse than they are now. Over the past couple of decades, these futures have made it into countless TV shows and movies. From Blade Runner to The Hunger Games, some of the best media has shown us what could be.

This trend has not slowed down over the past few years, with shows like Upload and Black Mirror hitting our screens. But has the time for dystopian media ended? After all, many people would say that the world we’re living in is bad enough!

Here is the case for dystopian media to be assigned to the past.

The terrifying future is already affecting our present

There is a lot of talk about climate change, both in a political and social context. Most of the discussion focuses on what will happen to the earth eventually. Unfortunately, a lot of damage has already occurred, and it impacts our daily lives.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, the city is sinking and some neighborhoods are already abandoned underwater. The Amazon has shrunk at an alarming rate, which is playing havoc with temperatures in South America.

Even in the US, we are feeling the effects. In many areas, private insurers do not cover flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has raised prices dramatically in the most high-risk areas, in the hopes of dissuading people from living in places that will soon no longer be viable.

This is similar to the requirements for earthquake insurance in regions likely to be hit by major earthquakes. The fact is that certain natural disasters are now not just a possibility, but an inevitability.

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In this context, do we really need more TV shows about post-apocalyptic worlds where civilization is decimated?

We’ve experienced more compelling stories

One popular theme of dystopian media is the idea of a worldwide plague killing huge numbers of people. In these dystopian futures, people turn on each other, governments fail to act, conspiracy theories abound, and all hope seems lost. Unfortunately, many of these stories are not nearly as interesting as the ones we have lived through.

Yes, the pandemic played out at a much slower pace than one depicted on a TV show or movie. However, part of the appeal of dystopian fiction was in the speculation over how people would act. Today, we know all too well how people would act because we have seen it. When a TV show depicts an unhinged president acting a certain way, we can compare it to real life. Usually, the real world scenario is way more interesting than what a writer concocted.

The simple reality is that most writers cannot come up with anything near as compelling as what we have already seen. If they try to do so in today’s world, it can end up coming off as a poor imitation.

Finding a middle ground

The idea of dystopian fiction is that it acts as a warning of what will happen if humanity goes in a certain direction. The problem today is that we have seen many warnings play out, and people still haven’t changed their behaviors. A TV show is not going to do what real life suffering could not.

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However, that does not mean speculative fiction is played out. There is a middle ground to be found, but it requires a bit more creativity. Screenwriters need to stop relying on shock value and darkness, and instead provide stories that none of us could have seen coming. Perhaps fantasy is so popular today because it has nothing to do with our real lives. This type of creativity may not reflect what we are going through, but rather provide an escape.

In a world that has already seen its fair share of disasters over the past few years, dystopian TV shows and movies are no longer necessary or desirable. It’s time we got a bit more creative about what we put on our screens.

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