Negative Utopias (Part I)
It's Never Too Late for the
End of the World as we Know It
When I was a kid I always assumed the world would
end in my lifetime. I was too young to be raised with the "Duck
and Cover" civil defense drills, but old enough to grow
up with NPR liberal antiwar fiends claiming that nuclear war was
a statistical inevitability, since NORAD was misidentifying space
junk as possible Russian first strikes on an almost daily basis.
As a result, I discovered
Sartre, black clothes, and Punk Rock. This was
1970's Punk Rock, not the trendy urban rich kid punk so common
these days. We didn't really know we were punks until people that
looked like us started showing up in the media, pretty much around
the same time as the Sex Pistols were breaking. Cool. After all
our nihilism, self-abuse, and calculated anti-social behavior, we
were suddenly an in-crowd. The evil MBA-birthing 80's and the Reagan
administration pretty much supported our belief that the end was
near. Then it happened...Reagan taunted Gorbachev with his famous
challenge, and the Berlin Wall came down. How could you be a Punk
if there was no Berlin Wall, and no sense of impending nuclear holocaust?
My life became pretty positive around that time. I stopped wearing
black so much, my hair color stabilized, and I slowed my drug &
alcohol intake to socially acceptable levels. The end of the world
seemed a distant spectre, as the internet dissolved international
barriers and our randy, upbeat Democratic leadership shone a positive
(if naiively so) light on the future. Life was so laid back that
former KGB and CIA agents formed tourist
Then after eight ecstatic years of deficit reduction,
crazy mad venture capital, and internet bubbleness, Al Gore did
the unimaginable. He jammed the stick up his ass, and a smirking
Bush snatched away what should've been a shoo-in Democratic victory.
Enter the Evil
Warlords assembled from three greedy, militaristic, and corrupt
Republican administrations. September 11. Al-Quaeda. Anthrax. Afghanistan
& the Taliban. Iraq. The Beltway Sniper. North Korea. The "Axis
of Evil". Enron & Andersen. In just two years, the world
had become a cesspool of terror, danger lurking around every corner.
Act. WHAT THE HELL? WHO FLIPPED THE CALENDAR BACK TO 1984?
And that sort of brings us to the point.
1984. While perusing the local video store recently, we noticed
the film 1984 was finally out on DVD. Having been too whacked on
drugs to remember much about it from its original release, we rented
it. Most disturbing. That Goldstein
guy sure bore a striking resemblance to Osama bin Laden (or
any other evil enemy du jour), at least in principle.
Orwell's 1948 classic remains an uncannily accurate
view of a dark future controlled by an oppressive double-speaking
government. We watched with shock & awe as our civil liberties
continued to erode in the hands of the current administration, and
that dark despondent feeling descended over us once again. Maybe
the world will end in my lifetime. Whether it does
or not, there are plenty of movies and books to fan the flames of
our sense of futility. They all fall into a genre occasionally referred
to as "Negative Utopias". For awhile, Charlton Heston
seemed to have cornered the market on stuff like this with such
gems as "Omega
Man", "Soylent Green", and the entire "Planet
of the Apes" series, but in fact the genre transcends cheesy
sci-fi, and includes twentieth century classics like Huxley's "Brave
New World", Bradbury's "Fahrenheit
451" and Orwell's "1984".
We'll add links below as we add reviews in the genre
of negative utopias and dystopia:
A Boy & His Dog
Brave New World
City of Lost Children
A Clockwork Orange
A Handmaid's Tale
The Omega Man
of the Apes
The Truman Show
Provided we don't all contract small pox...