I blame the Watchmen for this one. Yes, I am referring to the new television series on HBO that is a sequel (of sorts) to the movie that came out in 2009 that was created from the graphic novel that came out in 1986. I won’t go into detail about the series but I will mention that is remarkably bleak containing bleak imagery, bleak stories, bleak characters and even a fairly bleak sex scene. Some would say, and have said that it’s dystopian in nature. Now, to make sure everyone’s on the same page, Dictionary.com defines dystopia as “an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.” I would like to upgrade that definition. I don’t think it’s an imagined state. I think we’re there.
In the Watchmen universe, politicians are pretty much all corrupt and only looking out for their own interests. Same as this one. Their universe has an abundance of poverty. So do we. In their universe, racism is everywhere including lynchings. Well, as much as I thought we had been getting better, we’re not and racism is everywhere here, too. Their universe has a corrupt president in the continuing form of Richard Nixon. Yes, the same one we had. Ours is dead but we have Trump in office so the primary difference is that ours is more corrupt than theirs. Oh, goodie. We win?
There is a saying that art imitates life, but the reverse is also true. Millions of people watch assorted types of media and a lot of them include dystopian values. Game of Thrones had a lot of that in it. Breaking Bad wasn’t exactly a sunshine related program. The Sopranos? No. Law & Order? Mostly bleak (there’s that word again!) even if they do get the bad guys. Speaking of cop shows, even reasonably bright shows like NCIS have that story-line of “there’s a traitor among us working for their own greedy needs.” Survivor? Based on that premise entirely. I really do hate to lump this one in there with them, but Batman is dystopian. Okay, maybe not Batman himself but certainly Gotham City, which is based on New York.
Over the past twenty or more years, we’ve been fed increasingly dark story-lines and what has happened? We’ve gotten more and more dark ourselves. I’m not saying do away with those particular forms of media. Not at all. But, perhaps, we could have a few lighter things thrown in as well. There aren’t that many shows or movies that don’t have the darkness that we’re seeing all around us now.
You’d think there’d be a comedy series or movie that could lighten this all up, but I don’t think there is. All the comedic movies are either “funny” because they’ve got “dark” humor or they fall into the category I call “brain-dead comedies.” You know the ones, like “Dude, Where’s My Car” or pretty much anything with Will Ferrell in it, where you watch the trailer and feel brain cells being sucked out of your skull by the lack of intelligence being shown on the screen. There’s nothing bright about that.
We need something good to happen. Something to turn the planet around and make us feel good about ourselves again. A good series that doesn’t include horrific violence, racism in any form, non-objectifying relationships, honest friendship. Am I contributing to the good stuff? No. I write this and murder/mysteries with the occasional sci-fi story thrown in. I’m guilty of it, too. I just see so much of the horrible-ness of our society and can’t, honestly, think of anything else.
So, that’s where we are. We are now a dystopian society. We did it to ourselves. From the rebirth of racism to the installation (not election) of a game-show host in the White House. We need something good to happen soon. I really don’t want to see us get worse, do you?