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Dystopia: Definition and Characteristics

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Alison Bernat

on 3 October 2013

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Transcript of Dystopia: Definition and Characteristics

Dystopia: Definition and Characteristics
A futuristic, imagined universe in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control.
Dystopias, through an exaggerated worst-case scenario, make a criticism about a current trend, societal norm, or political system.
Characteristics of a Dystopian Society:
Propaganda is used to control the citizens of society.
Information, independent thought, and freedom are restricted.
A figurehead or concept is worshiped by the citizens of the society.
Citizens are perceived to be under constant surveillance.
Citizens have fear of the outside world.
Citizens live in a dehumanized state.
The natural world is banished and distrusted.
Citizens conform to uniform expectations. Individuality and dissent are bad.
The society is an illusion of a perfect utopian world
Types of Dystopian Controls
Most dystopian works present a world in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through one or more of the following types of controls:
Corporate Control:
One or more large corporations control society though products, advertising, and/or the media
The Dystopian Protagonist
often feels trapped and is struggling to escape
questions the existing social and political systems
believes or feels that something is terribly wrong wit the society in which he or she lives
helps the audience recognizes the negative aspects of the dystopian world through his or her perspective
Bureaucratic Control:
Society is controlled by mindless bureaucracy through a tangle of red tape, relentless regulations, and incompetent government officials.
Technological Control
Society is controlled by technology - through computers, robots, and/or scientific means.

Examples in film include "The Matrix", "The Terminator", and "I, Robot".
Philosophical/Religious Control:
Society is controlled by philosophical or religious ideology often enforced through a dictatorship or theocratic government.
A place, state,or condition that is ideally perfect in respect of politics laws, customs, and conditions.
In your journal, brainstorm a list of characteristics that describe a perfect society.

When your have finished, write the following statements in your journal. Next to each item, make a note as to whether you agree or disagree with the statement.
1. In an ideal society, everyone is equal.
2. It is better to be ignorant and happy than to be aware and upset.
3. Rules exist to help us live our lives properly.
4. It is alright to upset some people as long as you know what you are doing is best for society.
5. If you know you are right, you shouldn't listen to anyone else.

Please answer the following questions:
What illusion of a perfect society is depicted in the clip the class viewed? What is the society like in reality?

How are the members of this society being oppressed?

What kind of control is used to keep the members of the society oppressed?

What current trend, societal norm
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