The dystopian genre is able to capture interest because it is in human nature to want to picture the worst. A dystopian narrative is depicted as an imagined place, usually in the future, where everything is unpleasant or bad. This idea of a dystopian world has been used to entertain people, convey messages or alter opinions. An unpleasant futuristic world is often viewed as a far-fetched idea, this future, however improbable it may seem, appears to be an imminent possibility in today’s society. Across most dystopian stories, connections are able to be made not only between each piece but to the world beyond the text. This is often because a story requires key elements to become dystopian, many of which come from taking an aspect of today’s society and amplified in the future. In most dystopias, an oppressor has gained power by manipulating the individual resulting in the group becoming unaware of the oppression which they are under. Another of these elements is the underlying group of people who are under the oppression, resulting in the story following an individual that is against the oppressor. These connections are able to be seen in four dystopian pieces; From Sand to Sand by Andrew Campbell, Nineteen Eighty-Four By George Orwell, Minority Report directed by Steven Spielberg and the song 2+2=5 by Radiohead.
It is through the inability of the individual to critically question their reality that the population is able to be controlled. Through this control, the state is able to subjugate and entrap the people of From Sand to Sand and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although the two pieces vary in many ways, including the manner that the state controls the people, one with physical barriers, the other with mental, both societies have successfully made their populations obedient and unable to challenge authority. The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four does this through security and technology. The communist totalitarian state monitors and surveys their population in attempts to discover what a person is thinking of, leaving them nothing “except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.”. From Sand to Sand achieves the same goal of control through the use of physical barriers. The warlords of this world have created “large gate(s) made entirely from iron and fire, supposedly unclimbable” to contain people, forcing them to “compete for life or become food” due to the lack of resources. Without the lack of attention from the populous, the control the state has over the people would not have been possible. In the universe of From Sand to Sand, the world has fallen into a state of disrepair due to the amount of control the state has over society.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, however, appears to be able to be salvaged and destroy the control the state has over the people, only to find out that “So long as they [the population] are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”. In both pieces, the inability of the population to question society and challenge their leaders has caused the world they are in to be overtaken by an all-powerful state because the individual will “simply swallowed everything” and allow themselves to be imprisoned by their leaders.
Although each society within these texts is under oppression, with Nineteen Eighty-Four depicting a future where the state has already been able to impose authority, Minority Report presents the viewer a future where the world is able to be salvaged by the soon to be oppressed population. Despite the society in the movie being unaware of the control they are allowing the state to obtain, the protagonist is able to critically think about the system being implemented after being accused of precrime, the action of committing murder in the future. It is soon realised that this system is easily manipulatable and able to be controlled by the state. Much like in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the population have given away their privacy in exchange for protection but have unknowingly given away their freedom. The overexposed shots in every scene with the public symbolising how exposed the public is under the surveillance of the state. Whilst the two dystopian stories are different both have a very similar form of control through surveillance over the population, which can be seen and symbolised by the eye. The eye can be seen often throughout the movie, it is shown in a non-threatening way and used to symbolise how in “the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king” representing how in the land of the blind, the blind being population that refuses to see and look the issues within society, and the person who can see and watch is all powerful, relating back to Nineteen Eighty-Four where the one eye is a camera and the blind are the prolls, unable to see the oppression they’re under. Nineteen Eighty-Four shows the after effect of allowing the authority to take control while Minority Report shows the tipping point between staying free or being oppressed. By paying attention to the issues, the protagonist is able to prevent the dystopian future the world they live in was on track to become.
The song 2+2=5 represents how similar society is today compared with the societies within the pieces. The three previous texts differ in many ways, but all have an underlying group or population that is being oppressed by the authority, 2+2=5 is able to connect to all three pieces through the use of the population being oppressed in the song. The song is sung about today’s society and how we, the listener have “not been payin’ attention” to the issues that are present in today’s society. This is the same with Minority Report as the populous has not paid attention to the actions of the man in charge of the Pre-crime unit and ultimately almost caused to the installation of a controlling authority. In Nineteen Eighty-Four “It is too late now because [they] have not been payin’ attention” and the single partied totalitarian state has been able to take control. The party has so much control where they are able to say that 2+2=5 if our world is taken over by a single authority there’ll be nothing that can be done so “I’ll stay home forever where two and two always make up five”. The song eventually connecting to the final piece From Sand to Sand as there is no way to fix the world any more and “It’s the devil’s way now there is no way out”. The song is able to connect to each piece by showing the listener how easy it is to lose control over our society and for a dystopian future to become real.
After reading and studying dystopian literature significant connections are able to be made between most dystopian pieces and to the world around us. In each piece the people are misled and misinformed to believe a lie, it is through this forgery that the population is able to be oppressed. Once these connection have been found, an individual is able to discover how immanent a dystopian future may be for the society we live in today. It is the critical questioning of today’s society that is able to prevent the collapse of the society we live in into an unpleasant dystopian world.