There are numerous kinds of dystopian genre films, that is to say the opposite of utopian. It seems we have an obsession with the future, but it’s always filled with a horrible fate for humanity. Let’s take a look at the categories before analyzing the ‘why’ (click on the source for list of examples):
“A typical dystopia paints a picture of government or society attempting to exert control over free thought, authority, energy, freedom of information. Others focus on systematic discrimination and limitations based on a variety of factors – genetics, fertility, intelligence, and age being a few examples.” (Wikipedia)
“A corporate based dystopia is similar to a government/societal dystopia with the exception that the repressing power is a private company rather than a government. These stories generally include the motive of commercial profit instead of, or in addition to, the benefits of increased power and authority.” (Wikipedia)
“Cyberpunk is a science fiction subset, characterized by a focus on “high tech and low life” where advanced technology itself (not AI) is dystopian. “Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.” (Wikipedia)
“Nuclear war was a popular apocalyptic scenario from the ’50s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early ’90s, as the Cold War spawned fears of a nuclear catastrophe. In these movies, the horror comes not from the blast itself, however, but rather from the post-explosion actions of the desperate survivors (Panic in the Year Zero!) or from mutated creatures spawned from the radiation (The Day the World Ended). ” (About.com)
“A massive global pandemic scenario became increasingly popular in the ’70s, as increased sexual freedom raised concerns of communicable disease (Rabid), and by the 21st century, the rise of high-profile infections like AIDS, swine flu, the Ebola virus and SARS made this type of apocalypse a popular subject of horror films (28 Days Later). ” (About.com)
“Basically a subset of the “viral infection,” the “zombie infection” — in which a pathogen causes the dead to rise — has taken on a life of its own since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead reinvented zombie lore in 1968, at a time when its graphic violence reflected the increased pessimism of the Vietnam War era. In the 21st century, the zombie apocalypse had a resurgence, propelled by fears of disease, terrorism and global instability. ” (About.com)
“The alien invasion scenarios that became popular in the ’50s reflected the Red Scare fears of Communist infiltration that continued to until the fall of the Soviet Union in the ’90s, at which point terrorism took over from Communism as the primary covert threat symbolized by the undercover aliens posing as human in films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and They Live. ” (About.com)
SUPERNATURAL END OF DAYS
“While the satanic themes of horror movies like Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen became popular in the ’60s and ’70s as a reflection of increased fear of global annihilation and as a religious reaction to loosening social mores, the forces of evil are rarely shown actually bringing about an apocalypse (see the Omen films or End of Days) — perhaps because such an event would likely leave no survivors to be featured in a film. Occasionally, though, there are some movies that show at least a partial destruction of mankind by way of demonic (Demons), ghostly (Pulse) or otherworldly (The Mist) forces. “ (About.com)
NATURE STRIKES BACK
“The “nature strikes back” scenario usually involves either an “act of God” (Night of the Comet) or a rebellion of nature against the actions of man — like nuclear testing (Beginning of the End) or scientific experiments (Night of the Lepus). The latter in particular became popular in the ’50s, thanks to fears of nuclear testing (which, in movies, creates monstrously large animals), and again in the ’70s, when increased concern over pollution created story lines about animals running amok (Frogs). ” (About.com)
“Not all horror movie apocalypses can be lumped into a category. Here are some of the uncooperative ways that humanity might meets its ends. ” (About.com)
We seem to perfectly capable of imagining the most horrible of fates we could give ourselves, so why is that? Can we not simply believe that we could have the best for ourselves, a utopian future without the struggles that we face everyday? Or is it perhaps that we acknowledge our human flaws that would prevent us from achieving our dreams of perfection? Somehow we know that no matter how much we talk and walk the path to a better world, we understand that deep within our subconscious this will never come to pass. Perfection it would seem is beyond our means and the concept of humanity is an elusive term that one can never fully understand nor achieve . . . at least to an absolute.
Since this state of mind seems to be deeply rooted in all of us, since we are human after all (you are human right??) perhaps it’s time to explore. What are your fears about the future? What’s the worst possible outcome you can imagine? Write it down – it could be the next big hit.