Monday, August 18, 2014

The End of the World and how I saved it

                        
by The Urban Blabbermouth
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Lately, I have been reading a lot of Dystopian novels--so much so, that I am now tired of it.  For those who don't know, Dystopia is a genre of sci-fi/fantasy where the world ends by some disaster, a plague, zombies, or government run amok, and the world can only be saved by a teenage girl.  Light reading indeed.

The Hunger Games trilogy was the most popular book of this genre in 2013.  Basically children killing children for material gains. It was made into a movie that did very well.  The Divergent series looks to be the most popular dystopian novels for 2014.

I am tired of dystopia because the stories are the same--just change the disaster and the name of the teenage girl.  Worse, I have started to dream dystopia.  Last night, I dreamt that the lady who sits next to me at work and I were chased all over the country by zombies and we were losing.  Most disturbing.  If I were to interpret my dream, I would say that it's a work thing.  Think senior management as zombies and you can figure out the rest.

What puzzled me for a long time is why is dystopia so popular? Why is a story where very bad things happen, where children die needlessly, where life is so bleak, and where the future is horrible, selling better than any other books except romance novels?  Finally, it came to me.  The answer, and I don't know why I am so dense not to see it before, is that the dystopian readers identify with the heroine.  The readers think that they have all the hero traits and are as brave, resourceful, and as competent as the heroine.

I should have known that.  As a kid, I read and watched Superman, Batman comic books and movies and all the other super hero books and movies because I thought I could one day be like them.  One day, some strange chemical would spill on me and I would become a super hero.  I would save the world, save everybody I knew, plus get the girls.  As an adult, at least for us old guys, Superman was replaced by James Bond, super spy.  There is still lots of Superman in me and that is why I was reading dystopian novels.

Imagine me as a teenage girl heroine.  Not likely.  My mind is better at fantasy than that.  I converted this teenage girl into, well, me.  I did keep her bravery, confidence, and strength but made her into a man.  I suspect that Freud would have to much to say about that.

The curious thing is why do I and all the other readers of dystopia think that we would be the heroes.  In dystopian stories, only a handful of people have the hero traits.  The rest of humanity fails miserably, suffer and die for it.  Where in our lives have we exhibited these hero traits that would cause us to think that we are hero material?  Have we stuck our necks out and saved a victim from some mean nasty mugger?  Have we stood up to the bureaucracy of government?  Have we marched in a protest for what is right?

Perhaps, it is more subtle.  Perhaps the hero traits are there buried in us and have never had the chance to emerge.  All we need is a disaster for our hero traits to come out.

Hell no!!!  Let's not take the chance.  Let's skip the disasters, let's stick with reading dystopia and imagining ourselves heroic.