Dystopian Fiction: Why Is It So Appealing To Our Society?

While watching the movie series The Hunger Games and The Divergent series with my wife, I had the question why are these types of movies and fiction so appealing to society? The question brought up a conversation I had years ago with one of my college professors about dystopian fiction and we talked basic information about the genre. For those who do not know, the definition of dystopian fiction is a genre of fictional writing used to explore social and political structures in a dark, nightmare world. Dystopian fiction usually is described as having characteristics such as death, war, oppression, and despair.

In most dystopian fiction these things happen in the story. Propaganda is used by the government to control the people of the society. Information for the people, independent thought, and freedom are restricted by the government. The people who live in society are under constant surveillance. The citizens have a fear of the outside world because of the leader or leaders of society. An illusion of a perfect utopian world is painted by the government or leader of society. Our society finds dystopian fiction appealing and the genre through all forms is very popular. Here are some possible reasons as to why dystopian fiction is appealing to our society.

Attracts Readers Of All Ages

While most dystopian fiction literature is directed to children and young adults, it also attracts older readers. Readers that like all types of genres could possibly like dystopian fiction and many age groups have been drawn to reading the genre. Books like The Hunger Games series, The Divergent series, The Matched series, The Giver, and George Orwell’s 1984 are popular read books by kids from eleven years old to older people in their sixties. Almost anyone from any age group can pick up a dystopian fiction story and read it. They can understand the story, find interest in it, relate to the characters, and be hooked by the well-written literature that most dystopian fiction books are.

Honesty About Real-World Problems

Dystopian fiction is often very honest especially about real-world problems that are currently going on in our society or were going on in our society at the time a book or movie came out. This genre draws on aspects of our own world, mirroring elements of society, the environment, religion, politics or technology, and presents a world very familiar to ours. Often times that can be quite scary, but it’s necessary for literature and films to be honest because not everything is fairy tale happy endings. Even though we are reading or watching about what happens in these stories rather than actually living through the horrible things, these things are an extrapolation of our current troubled world.

Dystopian fiction is an honest depiction of what can happen because we know that politicians, military, and corporate moguls are capable of doing awful things as we have seen in the real-world. They say honesty is the best policy so to our society the genre is appealing and popular even if the truth sometimes hurts.

Mankind’s Wandering Mind

Dystopian fiction is appealing because it causes our society to have a wandering mind and to ask questions about our future. The genre makes people in our society think about what would happen if our world got messed up really badly. Would mankind lose all of our humanity? Could our society break up into groups or factions? Would people commit crimes and injure each other? Or would humans go straight to killing each other just to survive instead of helping each other survive? Dystopian fiction brings up many topics and causes people in our society to think about the possibility of these horrible futuristic outcomes while also comparing them to the way we live now.

People Relate To The Characters

Dystopian fiction is appealing to our society because people can relate to the characters in books or films. The main character or protagonist often feels trapped and is struggling to escape the world they live in. They often question the existing social and political system the government over them has set in place. The protagonist usually believes or feels that something is terribly wrong with the society they live in. They also help the audience recognize the negative aspects of their world through their perspective.

Our society relates to the characters because some people in the real world do feel the way these characters do about our own society. People in the real world feel trapped, they question the system our governments have in place over us, and people do feel like there are things wrong with our society. People that read or watch dystopian fiction put themselves in the character’s shoes because that’s where they feel they are in the real world.

A Warning For The Future

Often times dystopian fiction is appealing to our society because it can be a warning for the future. People in general and in our society look to find a way to prevent our world from perishing. One resource they look to is dystopian fiction as this genre acts as a warning for our society. It shows us different things that can happen if we don’t change our ways, what can happen if we go down a certain path, and it tries to warn us to be better as a society. Dystopian fiction oftentimes gives us the worst-case scenarios of the future of our world and makes them familiar to us to scare us. In hopes, the writers of dystopian fiction want to try and wake up our current society to avoid those scenarios from eventually happening in real life.

For instance, in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm, the last line says “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but it was already impossible to say which was which.” It warns that even though the people overthrew the government, they still became just like them and it warns us not to become the same as the past rulers.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the genre dystopian fiction, it’s obviously appealing to people in our society and very popular. The reasons are understandable as dystopian fiction attracts all kinds of readers, it’s honest about real problems, it makes people wonder, people can relate to characters, and it could be a warning for the future. Dystopian fiction is usually good writing and is definitely worth giving a try the next time you want to read something or watch a movie. Our society could definitely learn some things from the different forms of dystopian fiction and the genre should continue to be on the rise in popularity in years to come with people worrying about the future.

Do you read dystopian fiction? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyGrace12.

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