The reel deal on dystopian books and movies


Jamie Frank

Americans, and the majority of the world’s population, are currently learning what it is like to be in the middle of their very own dystopia. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm and continues to affect the daily lives of everyone. Many are turning to literature and film to distract themselves from the difficulties people may be facing in the world–in regards to the economy and health. However, the one thing that people truly have not considered, is that maybe reading books and watching films about other dystopias may actually help humans to cope during this difficult time in the world.

“I’m content to sit at home and watch my favorite TV shows and movies to keep myself entertained,” freshman Olivia Stahley said. “Does it really matter if they happen to relate to dystopian thematics? I don’t think so. As long as everyone is staying safe and indoors. Who’s to judge what I am reading or watching?”

Foremost, dystopian content can serve as a simple distraction. Individuals may find it comforting to read about or watch other people experience their entire world being changed in the span of a few weeks. It makes sense that today’s current events could be frightening for some people because of the uncertainty, but by watching films and reading books that have “happy” endings, it could suggest that everything will work out in the end.

“The coronavirus definitely made me think about how a future and more devastating disaster would affect this country…,” junior Jesse Artz said. “Prior to the COVID-19 landing in the U.S., the government and American people watched the situation worsen overseas but did not make serious restrictions, such as ordering all Americans overseas home or locking down the country.”

Although it may be difficult to compare fictional books and movies with real-life events, other dystopias could serve as a warning for the government and what to avoid. Making sure that everyone stays safe is the number one priority, but it is equally important to make sure that everyone’s rights are being respected; in many dystopian books, there are instances in which the government takes control over the people and becomes more effective in helping the greater good. This could be a dangerous proposition.
Sitting at home with nothing to do except watch the news can be scary for students like Artz because they are given time to think over all of the endless possibilities about what the future of the world could hold. Put simply, no one truly knows what will happen. Reading or watching fictional stories focusing on how characters handle problems within dystopias could put people at ease and decrease the amount of hysteria that individuals may face during any crisis.

“Most people in the United States have never been told to stay home for a long period of time, so this is all coming as a shock to them and many don’t know how to cope with it,” sophomore Emilia Saccento said. “Many are scared about the health of themselves and [that of] their family, how they are going to provide for themselves and their families since many have had to leave work and many are worried about how to get needed resources for survival because of the shortages on many items.”

Everyone has their own way of coping, whether it be playing board games with their family every night, solving puzzles, watching a movie or reading a good book. This time of uncertainty in the world means that everyone is finding their own personal method to staying sane–with that being said, it is absolutely reasonable to indulge in dystopian fantasy worlds in light of what is occurring today.
Photo by Jamie Frank.