Who Are the Bad Guys? Reflections on Dystopia

Dystopian civilizations have been on the brain lately. Don’t know why . . . Hmmm. Couldn’t tell you.

I’ve been thinking about how, in the books we read and the movies we watch, it’s always pretty easy to pick out who the bad guys are right away. And it’s pretty easy for people to agree on who the bad guys are, too.

Give a staunch liberal and a staunch conservative each an identical copy of The Hunger Games, and they can probably come to a consensus on who the villains are–maybe not why they are the villains, but hey, no need to ask for miracles here. (Actually, there are plenty of reasons to ask for miracles. Please send help.) Maybe The Hunger Games is too simplistic of an example. Fine. I’ve yet to hear a student or teacher of literature, regardless of their leanings, try to argue that the Firemen of Fahrenheit 451, or Big Brother of 1984 are good.

Then why is it, in the real world, which continues to look more and more dystopian every day, that we can’t come to the same agreement?

If you don’t mind me referencing the Wonder Woman movie, there was a part that particularly resounded with me for alas, I am young and idealistic and would love it if we could pin all the bad things in the world on one arch fiend and go about living at peace with one another. Like Diana, I think, we all falter when forced to face the fact that in everyone–including ourselves and our loved ones–there is a streak of evil. We are all the villains sometimes, just like we are all the heroes sometimes.

Outside of our favorite fictional universes, good and bad aren’t so cut and dry. Like everything else, they’re not a perfect binary. I’m not saying that everyone is so evil that there is no point in trying to make the world a better place. I just think that when we’re living in dystopia, a little understanding goes a long way.