Matched

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Dystopian novels are often trying to teach a lesson. Young adult dystopian novels are teaching lessons about dating and love. The millennial generation has an unromantic attitude with high expectations, and specific dystopian books such as The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Matched present situations that act as warnings.

My presentation will discuss the main sources of evidence for the research essay. In The Hunger Games, love is manipulated as a source of entertainment and a form of political propaganda. The Giver concerns a society with a lack of feelings, and such a society is the opposite of human nature. Emotions are what makes us human, and removingfeelings essentially reduces us to empty shells. In Matched and The Giver, the Matching Ceremony and the Matching of Spouses are identical processes that select ideal life partners for the citizens, which accurately reflects the formulas used by dating sites.

The attitudes towards romance in the dystopian novels often are a part of a bigger picture, and they reflect certain values the authors feel are important. Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, is highlighting the manipulation of love as entertainment and propaganda. It is important for readers to acknowledge the importance of the ability to recognize the difference between fake and authentic portrayals of romance. The author of Matched, Ally Condie, and the author of The Giver, Lois Lowry, are both emphasizing how ideal life partners are not truly perfect, and how a life without emotion is not one worth living.

 

The topic of romance in dystopias is important, since today’s society tends to emphasize on social lives and relationships. The social construct of a society can greatly impact lives, and dating is an important part of our social lives. In the context of dystopia, romance and dating can greatly shape the way a society is set up.

The human being is a rational entity, running off the presence of order and structure. This is reflected on every society that we construct, whether in literature or in actuality. Specifically looking at dystopias, the complex division (or lack thereof) of power is central to its ability to control and manipulate its constituents. The role that each part of the governing body plays seems to always be facilitated by some means – usually technology.

In Matched, by Allie Condie, the government has attempted to eliminate all sources of uncertainly and disorder – down to each person’s time of death. Had anyone seen anything remotely condoning of rebellion, they are instructed to take a memory erasing pill. They have anxiety medication at their disposal. They are told where to live, what to work, and who to love. This, of course, is all made possible by the progression of technology, in surveillance and in medicine. Cassia, the curious but naïve protagonist, find herself being watched more than the others when she falls in love out of script; infractions for holding hands in a “secluded” mountain, and shrinking meal portions as punishment. While the surveillance that goes on in Matched is very direct (government supervised dates!), that that happens in Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is done more remotely. Every keystroke, every step, and every place visited is logged by the DHS in attempt to keep a tight chokehold on its citizens for “safety”. Gait recognition, internet spies, and classroom cameras are all made possible by the speedy progress that technology has undergone.

It’s interesting to think of alternative outcomes of these stories had the technology not been there. For one, Marcus and the X-netters could not have defeated the DHS without their hack-savvy techniques.; however, the excessive surveillance would have never been possible without it. In Matched, the disposability of these different “pills” facilitates the mental control that the Officials have on the people. This created an entirely different dynamic than the one that exists in Little Brother, since digital technology doesn’t hold as big of a role for the “people” party in Matched.

Technology and its ability to facilitate oppression and control is unquestionable; ethical fears of privacy and control are huge barriers to such progress in our current society. But for the fictional worlds that authors have created for us (perhaps in warning?), the potential that technology holds for this kind of future is frightening. The physical technology that is used in YA dystopias is not far off from what is currently feasible. My research interest lies in the realm of technology’s role in oppression in YA dystopian novels, and how these roles cross with what is currently happening today with the collection of Big Data, the internet, and public surveillance.

BIG DATA: an introduction by IBM

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Works cited

  1. Allen, Justin. “ Little Brother Is Watching You · Corporate America Leverages Telematics.”Forwardslash /, 21 Feb. 2015, forward-slash.in/2015/02/21/little-  brother-        watching-you/. Accessed 19 Feb. 2017.
  2. Big Data.” IBM Big Data – What Is Big Data – United States, 14 Nov. 2016, www.ibm.com/big-data/us/en/. Accessed 19 Feb. 2017
  3. Condie, Ally. Matched. Penguin Group, 2010.
  1. Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tor, 2008.

For my independent reading, I read Matched by Allie Condie and while reading the YA Romance Dystopia, a lot of questions came up. However, one of the most prominent questions that kept popping up in my head was “Why do these people trust the ‘Society’ so much and why do they let the ‘Society’ make all of their decisions for them?” Throughout the novel, I kept finding more and more people who simply went along with what the ‘Society’ instructed them to do, and without question. I think the reason why this came as such a shock to me is because growing up, my dad always taught me to question everything and trust my own instinct versus others’ instruction.

To go back a little bit, I’d like to explain what the ‘Society’ is and its large role in Matched. The ‘Society’ is the form of government that exists in Matched and it controls its citizens through constant monitoring and constant control over what they do. They decide who marries who, who does what, and everything else you can think of. However, the characters are deceived by the ‘Society’ and are convinced that they have some power over what they choose to do, when the reality of the situation is that it is only an illusion and the ‘Society’ truly makes all of the decisions.

This concept is so bizarre and intriguing to me because I feel that it is totally possible in today’s world. I feel like with all of the technology that exists today, it is so easy for people to be wrapped up in technology that they don’t realize if they’re being monitored or not—or if they do, they simply don’t care. Because of this, I plan to research how technology affects people and how it can numb people to the concerns of constant surveillance. Ultimately, the role of technology and surveillance in dystopian novels is what interests me the most and that is why I’ve chosen to write me research paper on this topic.

 

Works Cited:

Condie, Ally. Matched. Penguin Books Ltd., 2012.

I’ve noticed a trend in several Dystopias. All the societies are trying to create a perfect environment to live but they all have a similar flaw. The Hunger Games has the games to prevent further rebellion and have a peaceful society. In Matched, couples are paired up and jobs are assigned to create an organized and structured society. These are just a couple of examples, yet in both cases, the needs of the society are given priority over the needs of the individual.

If I were to define a dystopia, I would describe a world very similar to ours. However, one key difference creates an imagined place where everything has been tainted in a negative way due to this one key difference. In The Hunger Games and Matched the clear differences are child sacrifice and arraigned lives respectively. On a deeper level, these imagined places compromised the possibility of a pleasant society when the needs of the individual insignificant when compared to the needs of the society. Thus, my definition of a dystopia is an imagined place where individual needs are held insignificant by society.

But what about combining dystopia with another genre such as Romance. I still think the definition works, but the additional genre gives a different lens for readers to see the dystopia. For example, in Matched the romantic connections throughout the story are constantly in a state of struggle. The cause of the struggle is the societal rules on matches and assignments. There is no room to consider an induvial’s wants, needs, passions, or love. Those become insignificant in a romantic dystopian world. For Sci-Fi, it is very similar. You could have aliens, lightsabers, and powerful female roles (looking at you Leia and Ray) but still be in an unpleasant dystopian world. In Star Wars a totalitarian empire is seeking to control and rule the entire galaxy. For those who do not like that, they become the rebels and become the enemies to society. Although I do not fully consider Star Wars dystopia but you can see the point. When you add another genre to a dystopia you will have the same underlying issue but will see it in a different way.

If you focus on a certain age group, such as young adults, I do not think the world within the novel loses the core issue stated in my definition. A slight tangent to think about after my definition: if a dystopia places the needs of the society over the needs of an individual, how should society and individual needs be related to each other?

 

The basic idea of a dystopia is a utopia gone awry. Usually, the people of influence within the dystopia manipulate the citizens into believing it is utopia through means of propaganda or media censorship. While the totalitarian government which most dystopias inhabit can appear perfect at first glance, upon further review it is easy to see the flaws in the society.

When another genre is added to a dystopian novel, the underlying warnings or agendas of that novel are not necessarily changed, but instead another facet is added to the ever-complex idea. For example, a sci-fi dystopian gives the reader a terrible glimpse into a future where scientific discoveries aren’t regulated. Often, this advanced technology is used to instill fear, control, and further the power of the government.

Apocalyptic dystopias are slightly different than Sci-Fi dystopias because, while sci-fi dystopias use futuristic technology to ensure compliance, apocalyptic dystopias tend to offer protection more than anything. For example, in Divergent the worst thing that could happen would be to become factionless, and without the aid of the government

Romantic dystopias are interesting though. Because dystopias diminish the individual’s control, instead the government oversees almost all aspects of a citizen’s life. Therefore, love threatens the government’s control because it is unregulated and threatens the absolute power of the government. In dystopian books, such as Matched, the government has gone so far as to determine who their citizens are to love. Therefore, minimizing the threat of individuality by lack free choice. Delirium by Lauren Oliver, goes one step further in that the government tries to prevent love all together. One of my favorite books, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, has a similar approach, but instead of just withholding the feeling of love from their citizens, everyone is completely drugged, devoid of any emotions or individual thoughts. While this works well in preventing conflict and keeping the government intact, it is certainly no way to live.

A dystopian young adult novel has a younger demographic, so the content of the book can’t be quite as graphic as that of a book like the Handmaid’s Tale. However, because the author cannot be explicit, darker plots are often mentioned in passing at and left to the reader’s discretion. For example, in Mockingjay, Finnick Odair admits that he was sold for prostitution by President Snow to the horror of many readers. However, instead of explaining or exploring that story any further, Suzanne Collins is restricted by the young adult demographic and only mentions it once.

 

Citations:

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/finnick-odair/images/38065329/title/finnick-gif-mockingjay-part-1-fanart

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/divergent/images/37886565/title/factionless-fanart

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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.