Opinion: Stop Calling Real World Issues Dystopian


Photo by Yoav Aziz/Unsplash.

Belle Yennie, Staff Writer

  Claiming that real world struggles are like fiction hurts communities who have long been living in their own dystopia. 

  It’s not a coincidence Netflix streamed all four “Hunger Games” movies this March after TikTok users compared movie images to current events in America. 

  A TikTok “Hunger Games” discourse began in 2020 and is resurfacing in 2023. During Black Lives Matter protests, videos emerged comparing images of police brutality to those of the dystopian “peacekeepers.” Today, the discourse and videos continue by comparing images of extravagantly dressed capitol elites to celebrities and models. 

  Some videos  included commentary of poverty, increased prices of food and housing all while watching the wealthy continue on with their lives. 

  I’m glad “The Hunger Games” and other dystopian novels – “The Handmaid’s Tale” – are  resurfacing in popularity, but it should be noted these stories are told with cisgendered, white actors as the face of revolutions. 

  TikTok discourse from women of color say trends like these can exclude black voices because struggles of poverty and abortion access aren’t necessarily new to them. It’s as if social media users are now realizing what oppression looks like even though other minority communities have historically similar systemic issues. 

  Other TikToks were created when Roe vs. Wade was suspected to overturn. Women dressed in red cloaks and white bonnets at protests to resemble the outfits in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Recently, women in Israel utilized the outfit to express their fears of where their government is headed. 

  The cast of “The Handmaid’s Tale” Hulu Original created a video with Harper’s Bazaar in 2019, well before the overturn of Roe vs. Wade. The cast cautioned against claiming current events similar to “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “a book.” Using pop culture to start meaningful conversations is helpful, but we have to be mindful that we aren’t distancing ourselves from very real world topics. 

  When discussing America as dystopian, it’s important to use these fictional novels as a unifying tool instead of fact. While these novels can be accurate – and scary – predictors of where we are headed, the stories of minority characters are limited in the popular dystopian genre, possibly because they are listed within historical fiction. 

  Dystopian characters can inspire audiences to engage in online discourse and take action. However, let’s not forget this isn’t a game, book or movie. This is real life. 

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