Best of SNO High School Edition

Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

Revan Jlnn, Flickr Creative Commons

Revan Jlnn, Flickr Creative Commons

Illustration done by Revan Jlnn depicts the idea of the survival of the fittest in a dystopian apocalyptic event.

Sharee Roman, Saint Paul Academy and Summit School

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






With current political tensions, growing concerns due to the effects of climate change, and rapid technological advances, there has been a surge in dystopian literature in the past ten years. Novels such as the “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” are immensely popular in today’s society. What is going on today that makes them attractive?

The rising popularity of dystopian literature among adolescent audiences is marked in today’s pop culture. The analogies between today’s current events and many young adults’ anxiety are prominent. Most dystopian novels written today are from a teenager’s perspective, and usually first person. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry published in 1993 was one of the first dystopian novels written in a teenager’s perspective. Interestingly enough, dystopian literature dates back much further than 1993. An illustration created by Electric Lit shows the peaks and plunges of dystopian popularity from the 1900s to present day.

US English teacher Emily Anderson explains: “[Dystopian literature] been around since at least the 18th century, but really older than that. Ancient religions are full of the world being destroyed and then being re-created. It’s not a new genre.”

The biggest spikes in dystopian popularity occurred after wars or political disputes such as World War II, the Cold War, and 9/11. Stories like “Brave New World”, “It Can’t Happen Here”, and “The Handmaid’s Tale” were written when the authors saw certain trends in society disagreeable. Junior Gabriel Konar-Steenberg sheds light as to why authors do this.

“I think that the authors imagine a future that they think society could actually progress towards, and then they attempt to show why it would be a bad idea, or how it could have unintended consequences,” Konar-Steenberg said.

With the current advancements in technology it is not surprising to see why authors are working hard to illustrate a radical future.

“I think [it’s possible], especially with climate change, if we don’t do something about that soon, that we will live in a dystopian future,” said Konar-Steenberg.

Although some issues like climate change are universal, the popularity of dystopian literature varies from country to country.

“There are actually scholars that track dystopian literature in a place like the U.S versus other places in the world where life is much harder,” Anderson said, “and those place tend to not have a much dystopian literature because people aren’t that enchanted by thinking about disaster, destruction and catastrophe when they are living it. The dystopian genre is larger one for societies civilizations who have the luxury to contemplate destruction because they are not living it.”

Despite some concerns, it is possible that American society isn’t as bad as dystopian literature portrays. On the other hand, the books criticize the power hungry, abuse, non-democratic government, and bring forth the issues of what makes society just.

“The reason people make or write dystopian literature is so that people can watch and appreciate how much worse the world could be,” ninth grader Janny Reece said.

Now this begs the question: What does the rise of dystopian literature say about American society? Does it tell the future and the wants and needs of a first world country, or foreshadow its destruction?

“If you think about the mythology of the United States, it’s rugged individualism, it’s survivalism, it’s working the land to make your way. I think a lot of Americans are really obsessed with that idea of the lack of social safety net and having to survive on your own instincts, your own strengths, or your own craftiness,” said Anderson.

In the end, dystopian literature brings intrigue to many individuals from both sides of the political spectrum on different topics. It doesn’t discuss the now, but the future, something everyone can enjoy–a world that seems fictional.

Read the original story here

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    Unpopular opinion: My love affair with Pandora

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    On debut ‘Camila’, Cabello aims for authentic sound

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    Temper-testing, timeline-tampering trials and triumphs

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    Just Wing It

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    Meet the Senior Whose Drawing of Tom Brady Went Viral

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    The Sound (and light of support): behind the scenes with the makers of stage magic

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    YouTube ‘Rewind’ review: The shape of disappointment

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    “Whatever We Give You It’s Never Enough”

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    Junior Charles Walsh speaks his way to success

  • Rise of dystopia in television connects to real world problems

    Arts & Entertainment

    Is Anyone Really Pro Golden Globes?