Utopia in small doses or, I Don’t Want To Believe

This semester I’ve had the pleasure of teaching in a unit on Science Fiction and Fantasy texts. BeingSnowpeircer and Equilibrium came up as well as classics like Fritz Lang’s 1927 epic, Metropolis. But when I pushed the discussion towards the concept of a utopian society, the conversation took a different turn. My students didn’t believe utopia was a plausible concept. Nor could they name any texts in which a utopia actually existed. Here as well we discussed a wide range of texts. But even things as seemingly innocent and beniegn as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were suspect. The Emerald City looked nice from the outside, but the man running the show was a con artist behind a curtain whose very presence undermined the entire venture. And then there was the Wicked Witch – a dire nemesis that provided an alternative ideology. On top of it all, there were those pesky texts that hinted at utopia, from a certain perspective – but were dystopian or something else from another. Annoying little literary identifications that didn’t really rest on one thing or another, but instead presented characters who communicated a multiperspectivity of views. Escape from L.A.’s prison-city might be a violent, dangerous place to live but for the exiles of the film’s fanatically puritanical United States, the freedom of lifestyle is perceived as a blessing.
Why do dystopian cities always
seem to have great architecture?
a sessional at an Australian university, my workload can be quite eclectic between semesters so to have one squarely within my interests was markedly distinct. Naturally on the subject of dystopia films like

Naturally, my students were apt in their assessment. Utopia, a pure functioning ideal society, is somewhat lacking in contemporary popular culture. This absence is perhaps as much about good writing as it is current politics or understanding of the human species. That is to say, for a narrative to achieve a sense of drama there must be, by necessity, some sort of undermining ideology, threat or alternative perspective at work. Thus utopia as a place or an ideal must be either threatened or unrealised. From Milton’s Paradise Lost to Kirby’s New Gods to the original Transformers animation, the idea of an endangered utopia is a well-understood one. As is the promise of a better tomorrow, the building of the unattainable state of perfection. The (original) Thundercats striving for a new home on Third Earth, Samurai Jack endeavouring to find a way of restoring the world to Edenic perfection - free from Aku’s otherworldly corruption, or simply the better future hinted at in Tomorrow Land’s conclusion. But what sense of drama or character motivation can there be in a world without problems? Without stife, or conflict or yearning? Its an illusive question.

How do so many different species eventually
agree on one fashion style for uniforms?
Perhaps it is simply that while it is possible for the human animal to imagine a variety of wide-reaching, all consuming dystopias, the concept of perfection remains subject. Maybe then it is simple a case of utopia in small doses. The metal-bending city of Zaofu in The Legend of Korra is an ideal society, but its concepts are stretched to breaking point when Kuvira attempts to model an empire after it. But still, Zaofu remains within the series a model of individual freedom. The Federation of Star Trek long presented itself with no poverty, disease, interior military conflicts or swearing (until Discovery) but it still had internal and external problems. Is it simply a matter then, that the realistic utopia of fiction is one built in worlds and stories that seem genuine and plausible by their absence of absolute happiness?

Utopia in small doses or, I Don’t Want To Believe Utopia in small doses or, I Don’t Want To Believe Reviewed by Nicholas William Moll on Monday, October 30, 2017 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.