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We have 3D printers in our schools and some might even already own one in their home. We print plastics and more recently metals, but the next step, which has already been breached, is printing food.

Imagine a world years from now that already replaced the manufacturing industry with printers. Global greenhouse gas emissions from livestock had huge consequences, the world population was continuously growing, and malnutrition continued to tear apart third world countries. So they took the next step in the 3D-printing revolution: 3D-printed food.

3D printed Carrots

Carrots printed from a 3D printer.

Every family who can afford a 3D printer owns one, maybe even two or three. They can be found in place of food shelters, and in factories where diverse machinery was once present. And everything is automated; resources are distributed and used more carefully under supervision and regulation, reducing waste but also reducing choice and creativity. Malnutrition can be treated easily with artificial proteins created by the 3D-printers, which is one of the reasons the switch was made, but the machines don’t exist in all the places they need to, and don’t work in all the places where they do. In regions where poverty still rages, the public printers break down from overuse or misuse, and sometimes are left empty of resources to print with.

Where regular 3D printers print with plastics, the "Foodini" uses real food ingredients to create edible products.

Why pay continuously for a chef when you can just buy a printer once? 3D printers replaced chefs in the kitchen, making the cooking process quicker and less wasteful.

In addition to the unsolved hunger and malnutrition in poorer areas, the agriculture industry is dead, along with many other manufacturing jobs that people once held. Farmers are something that only exist in history books, along with chefs and factory workers. Farms are deserted; livestock was banned years ago because of the mounting implications on the earth’s climate, and it’s pointless to put labor into a crop that can now be artificially created by a printer for less money and more convenience. Unrest is increasing in and about poverty-ridden areas; if they can’t print their food and farms are non-existent then they literally have nothing to eat. But these are problems of people that remain mostly unheard. While it was argued in the beginning that the switch would help them, it was in part for them, the printing revolution has moved away and beyond that now.

Image result for empty factory

Factories are left empty, as products can now be manufactured locally or even in homes from 3D printers.

Image result for deserted farmland

Farmland is left unusable by the changing climate and replaced by the printing industry.

With a focus on the good things: the fewer wasted materials and resources, longer life spans due to easily replaced product parts, less transport, and fewer unsold products, it seems reasonable, even a good idea then to advance printing once again. It was a quick transition from printing plastics to metals and from metals to food and artificial proteins, so why not take it one step further? Imagine the possibilities if we began to print living tissue. Imagine all the people it could help, how many lives it could make better. If only it would help the people that need it most.

Image result for 3d printing tissue

No ear? No problem. Just print yourself another.

How do we learn everything we know about specific dystopian societies?

We live through the main character, gaining their perspective on the situation; everything we know is what they know or think they know. This would indicate that the creation of the protagonist of a dystopian work is very important, and many details must be taken into account. This realization then led me to ask the question: why are the vast majority of dystopian protagonists female?

In my research paper, “Female protagonists make differences in dystopian worlds as well as our own”, I examine how authors (and screenwriters) of dystopian works use a female protagonist as a mechanism to challenge stereotypes and expectations of young women in our societies, thus empowering them and encouraging them to not conform. My research delves into the female protagonists’ skills and capabilities, love triangles within YA dystopia, and real-life activism.

Female protagonists in dystopias are equipped by the author with an array of skills and qualities that help her fight for her cause. Her capabilities communicate “girl power”: an attitude of self-assertiveness and political insight, and this image of the character aims to dissolve any degrading stereotypes of women, as well as cultural expectations of women to stand down or conform to society’s perception of “beauty”.

Love triangles seem to come hand-in-hand with female protagonists in dystopias. Are the authors writing love triangles because they sell well? Maybe. Is that the only reason? Definitely not. Have you ever wondered what the point of a love triangle is? What they accomplish? My paper investigates the use of the love triangle, and how it allows the presence of choice for the female protagonist. Furthermore, her choice often represents a much bigger decision, such as whether she will sit back and watch, or throw herself into the action.

Finally, the effects of the female protagonists in dystopia can be seen across the world. Leadership camps inspired by Katniss have popped up, and protests using symbols from dystopian novels.

Female protagonists in dystopia are empowering for young female readers, and insightful and correcting for any reader with a perception shaped by society’s expectations and standards. These fictional women are contributing to the author’s underlying messages, and this certainly makes them stand apart from those in regular young adult fiction.

Lionsgate needed to sell “The Hunger Games”. How did they get people to come to the theater when the film criticizes our very own behavior? They marketed the storyline and the characters.

Forget the message, forget that what the PR team is doing is the very thing the books are warning of, and just focus on the foreground of the story. Create posters of sample citizens from each district. Show snippets from the peak action scenes in the film. Throw in a tender moment between Katniss and Peeta. Between Katniss and Gale. Depict the characters as fierce and defiant individuals in the movie posters.

“The Hunger Games” is special in that it had a large following of the book series before the movies. This allowed Lionsgate to skip a few steps; there was already an existing fanbase that would easily be attracted to the films. Personally, I like to see visualizations of books, whether it’s simply the book cover, fan-made art, or an actual film. These real-life depictions make the books and their components seem more tangible. The posters shown below were created for the existing fans. These are characters that they’ve already read about and that they’re curious about. To those who had not yet read the books, these posters didn’t hold as much significance.

Movie trailers and posters aim to spark interest in people that are not already fans, in addition to re-captivating the excitement of existing fans. The trailers carefully weave together scenes from the films that will ensnare the most viewers. It’s difficult to derive the main message of a dystopia from movie trailers because the focus isn’t on criticism. It’s on introducing the characters and action that they’re involved in, which is what tends to convince the audience to go see the film anyways. It’s much more likely to hear, “Oh, that movie looks really cool, we should go see it” than, “Wow, I think this movie is going to convey a really provoking message and critique of human society, let’s go see it”.

“They just want a good show, that’s all they want,” Gale says in “The Hunger Games” movie. I can’t help now but think that it’s a bit disturbing. That is exactly what we want out of the films, and we don’t see any problem with it, thanks to the presentation on the market, and propaganda of our own.

Works Cited

Barnes, Brooks. “How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Fever.” The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/business/media/how-hunger-games-built-up-must-see-fever.html.

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

What is dystopia?

I think of dystopias as imagined societies created and shared in order to critique and/or caution readers of certain trends, norms, or social and political systems that the author deems as dangerous or undesirable. This is evident when dystopian works from different centuries or ages are compared to each other as observed in The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature by Gregory Claeys. The focus of the critique transforms as different social trends and norms come into place along with the new century. Admonishment of certain political and social systems changes with the current systems as well, for example, capitalism being critiqued in times of economic struggle or failure.

The authorities in dystopian societies create their dystopia as a solution to an issue or crisis that they are approaching or experiencing. These “solutions” paint a negative perspective of society as well as humankind on a fictional canvas. Dystopian societies often follow ridiculous rules and norms that may seem specific to that dystopia, but actually embody much broader aspects that are applicable to our current, non-fictional world. An example of this is in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. While the Capitol insists that the games are to keep peace (and to keep the people of the Capitol entertained), their actions actually translate into a general warning of government power and oppression.

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Combining dystopia with another genre doesn’t change my definition as the combination serves to focus the critical spotlight, illuminating the concept or behavior that the author most disagrees with. For example, a dystopia combined with the sci-fi genre critiques humans’ use of technology, often dissenting our efforts to mechanize and genetically engineer many aspects of our lives. Dystopias paired with the romantic genre are reproachful of repression of emotions. They might consist of a system where the citizens are all participants in a giant, computerized match-making program as observed in the dystopian novel, Matched by Ally Condie. The system might even prohibit or obstruct the citizens from expressing or feeling love.

Bringing dystopian literature into the YA field brings significance to the genre. Opening the younger generation’s eyes to the world of dystopia allows them to consciously and subconsciously absorb messages about society and humanity. Of course, other literature besides dystopia in the YA genre relays messages, but much stronger and deeper critique is provided through dystopia. The often shocking or disturbing worlds of dystopia are more captivating and can convey provocative concepts without being too philosophical to keep young readers’ attention.

Whether you’re actively looking for something that will change the way you view society, or just want something to sit down and enjoy, dystopia fiction will leave you with something to ponder.

Works cited:

Claeys, Gregory. The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York, NY, Scholastic, 2008.

Condie, Ally. Matched. New York, NY, Dutton Books, 2010.