Post-Apocalyptic Dystopias

Having a child of a certain age, I was forced to watch The Hunger Games. I was prepared to hate it, but didn’t.

The post-apocalyptic dystopia has had a long history. Narrowing it to the “filthy peasants are forced to provide victims (voluntary or otherwise) for the sporting amusement of the patrician class,” the genre is still quite broad. First to mind (for me, in any case) comes the story of Minos of Crete demanding sacrificial victims for the monstrous denizen of the Labyrinth. This story has been told and retold over and over, with recent incarnations including well known and not-so-well-known novels from Stephen King (written as Richard Bachman): The Running Man, The Long Walk. From a psychological perspective, it is a satisfying story of and authoritarian government literally making a show of subjugating the masses.

People can be evil, and oppression occurs, yet this is never done. Why not? Certainly objective oppression is within the power of the ruler or ruling party with absolute power. Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, the cartoonish overt evil of such a scheme makes it not simply hard to swallow, but rather impossible. People will quietly accept or even actively participate in wholesale murder and destruction. Humiliation is another thing. When an activity can objectively be called evil and is done with humiliation as a principal aim, the overwhelming majority of the population will be antipathetic to the government. That is the second most important ingredient of a overthrow, after only hunger. Secondly, the viability of such regimes must be so short that no examples even exist, despite the existence of a number of truly despotic and murderous governments. Third, well, two is plenty.

I just hate this theme. It makes me want to oppress rubes.

Maybe I’ll finish this thought tomorrow…