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All posts by Kristof Kovacs

Climate change is a pressing issue of our time, if not the single most pressing one. It is easy to ignore because it is creeping up on us slowly, progressively. The primary propagators of this problem, large firms and governments, choose profits over our own well-being. The secondary issue is educating people about global warming. This is hard since society has no real way to relate to it today.  This is where the media comes into play. TV shows, movies, and books give their audience a means to relate to the issues they discuss. When We Wake just does that with climate change.

The reader is plopped into a dystopian Australia, on an Earth where global warming has run rampant. Where there used to be land, there is now an ocean. The gaping hole in the ozone layer does not filter the sun’s rays, so people live underground. Meat has become a luxury good, since cattle produce harmful greenhouse gases. Coastal Sydney has been swallowed by the Pacific Ocean These are all projections for our own world. At this rate, in fifty years, this will be planet Earth.

But the climate change doesn’t just pertain to temperatures and weather patterns, but also to the political climate. A lack of regulation due to international competition has led to distrust amongst the world’s nations which means tighter border controls, and a rise in racism. Unfortunately, early traces of this can already be seen today. Flagship nations such as the USA, Russia, and China are ignoring climate regulation in fear of falling behind the others on a competitive level. Brazil and Australia are already falling behind the Paris Agreement, and President Trump is debating withdrawing the USA from the agreement altogether. It is easy to see how such “competition” could lead to the level of political pressure present in When We Wake.

While I was aware of all the issues and projections of climate change, When We Wake is the book that made it feel real. The world was immersive and believable and I believe it is an eye opener to anyone, no matter how well versed they are on the topic of global warming.

Works Cited

Healey, Karen. When We Wake. Auckland, N.Z., Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, 2015

We have all read and discussed 1984 in depth plenty of times; however, it is interesting to look at how it shaped us as a society.  Joanne W.’s prezi, The Cultural Impact of 1984, does just this; specifically, it explores the effects 1984 had on our pop culture. She does this with a slideshow of direct examples from various sources, spread across movies, TV, music, advertising and art, comic books, video games, and books. The slideshow itself is made up of seven columns of varying heights, one dedicated to each of these categories. She includes pictures and a detailed explanation of how each of these works relate to 1984 to emphasize her point. An example of this would be how the logo of the Batman: Arkham City video game is like an inverted INGSOC logo and how the antagonist often gives propaganda speeches through big televised screens. In the end, she uses all these sources to argue that people look towards 1984 for inspiration and social guidance to deny the control and to embrace their individuality. 

This prezi is a very efficient resource because it not only shows the effects of 1984 to help us understand how it affects our world, but also provides us with a plethora of dystopian worlds to explore. These worlds are mostly built on Orwellian totalitarianism, so they help us better understand how government control can affect us in different ways. Some examples are Equilibrium, 1985, Brazil, V for Vendetta, and Half-Life 2. Each of these works has its own backstory and reasons for the totalitarian government ruling; but they are all united under 1984’s legacy.

I personally want to use this source to show how 1984 has affected us as a society and to highlight how deep our opposition to these Orwellian conce
pts flows. The sheer amount of references in this presentation really shows us how much a dystopian work can affect the way we think of a concept such as government control.

Works Cited

W, Joanne. “The Cultural Impact of 1984.” Prezi.com, 20 Apr. 2015, prezi.com/97efdev5igwx/the-cultural-impact-of-1984/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2017.

The best part of reading a dystopian novel is that it’s like stepping into an alternate future for our world. Novel to novel, that future changes, one more terrifying than the other, more plausible than the other.  The direction we as a world and as a society are taking does not bode well for the coming generations. Global warming, overpopulation, pollution, and scarcity of food resources all promise a dystopia as the earth’s fate. If we do not act in time, any dystopian world built around these concepts can become our reality.

In When We Wake, 16-year-old Tegan Oglietti is an avid supporter of climate control, who gets shot at a protest, only to wake up one hundred years later in a dystopian Australia. Global warming has run rampant, sea levels are at an all-time high, the ozone layer has a gaping hole in it, so people live underground to avoid the sun’s glare, meat is expensive and rare because the cattle population had to be controlled, and human fecal matter is used as fertilizer. None of these are new concepts, this is our future unless we change the way we handle this problem. In the book, the borders and immigration rules are extremely strict, suggesting political stress between nations, possibly over this issue of global warming.

I wonder if our own society faces a future like this, where political pressure forces nations into not taking action, resulting in global warming reaching such heights. And more importantly I’m intrigued by how dystopian novels have influenced our own world. Did 1984 raise awareness to government control? Did Brave New World influence the way we think about biotechnology? Are books such as When We Wake educating the public about the dangers we face? And if yes, how? I’ve understood that literature is a reflection of our society and vice versa for a time now; however, I never considered how important dystopias could possibly be to avoiding the downfall of our world.

Works Cited

Healey, Karen. When We Wake. Auckland, N.Z., Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, 2015.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. London, Vintage Classic, 2014.

Orwell, George. 1984. Leicester, Charnwood, c1949, 1982.

To this day, we still use propaganda to influence the public in every political race and war. While widely accepted as a shameful and distrustful thing to do, this negative stigma is not enough to bring down such a powerful institution. The fact of the matter is that the public can be thought of as a mass, and by targeting the dominant opinion of this mass, you can persuade (or strike fear into) the heart of a society.

In most dystopian worlds controlled by a totalitarian government, propaganda plays a central role in keeping said government in power. In novels about overthrowing this government, propaganda is also used to inspire the oppressed society into a rebellion. This is especially prominent in Mockingjay where the Capitol and District 13 are both fighting to control the nation of Panem. District 13 uses Katniss to inspire the districts to rebel while the Capitol continues to scare them into submission. But President Snow fails to follow his principle of “controlling the hope” when he underestimates the willpower of a nation too long oppressed. Slowly but surely, the rebels win over every district, cutting off the Capitol’s supplies and winning the war. However, while District 13 and the Capitol use textbook perfect examples of propaganda in Mockingjay, the Hunger Games themselves are also a work of he Capitol’s propaganda. “Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. “Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do.”” (Hunger 19). The fact that the family, friends and district of the tributes are forced to watch as they are slaughtered just drives home the point that Capitol is making. Don’t cross us. Like this, the Districts are kept in line, under Capitol rule. That is until the hope inspired by the Mockingjay prompts them to rise up.

Works Cited

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2008. Print.

Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. Scholastic, 2010. Print.

Dystopia. A perfect world with an imperfection. The societies living in most dystopias are aware that their world is imperfect, however it is beyond their control to fix it.  A common dystopian storyline proceeds like this: world heading towards perfection gets disrupted by big event(war, Armageddon, the Earth running out of resources, etc.) only to overcome said event through a skewed ruling system. This fragile and rigid ruling system is then challenged by the protagonist, who often attempts to overthrow it by becoming a voice for the oppressed society. While a very broad and general outline of what dystopian literature is, this analysis sheds light on what sets it apart from other genres. The concept of an imperfect society is key to a dystopia, so a book featuring such a society must be dystopian, right?

Well not really. See this definition of dystopia starts to break down when the author creates a world beyond this imperfect society. Let me clarify. In a fictional world where the Earth is perfectly normal except for a post-apocalyptic United States, is someone living in Italy, living in a dystopia? Surely, this war doesn’t affect them, so is a book detailing their daily lives dystopian? What about a sci-fi novel set in space where a couple of the planets are run as dystopian society? Why would this be classified as dystopian? Well it shouldn’t be.  A dystopian novel disregards what is happening outside of it’s society, because it isn’t important. In the Hunger Games, the reader isn’t told what is happening in the rest of the world. It is assumed that there is no life outside of the capitol-district system. In the end, this is what defines a dystopian novel to me. A dystopian world, and a story pertaining only to that world. However, this makes it easy for genre’s to overlap dystopian literature.

A similar overlap happened between adult dystopias and children’s literature. The fusion of those two created YA dystopias. The politics is usually subliminal in these worlds. For example, the the tension between the districts and the Capitol is a secondary theme, hidden behind the shocking premise of children murdering each other. This makes it easier for younger audiences to enjoy these works, while still capturing the attention of older readers. This has shifted the dystopian genre to where a larger message/political critique is hidden behind a simpler, bigger problem.

 References

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2008.