Guest Post: YA Dystopias and the Problems They Ignore

September 22, 2015 Guests 0

All Things Urban Fantasy is pleased to welcome back Maria, whose most recent guest post about Ray Bradbury’s influence on television can be read hereHave a great idea for a guest post? Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]

The Maze RunnerIt began with George Orwell’s 1984. Years later, bestsellers such as The Maze Runner and Divergent made their debut, achieving enough popularity to evolve into films. Dystopian fiction is a genre swiftly gaining prominence through intriguing and thought-provoking plotlines reminiscent of our own societal downfalls. People strongly relate to the exaggerated issues featured in young adult dystopian novels. One component contributing to the success of recent works such as those aforementioned is that they are written from the point of view of a teenager. Because a vast portion of the fan base consists of teenagers and young adults, this writing style helps audiences draw connections from the entertainment outlets to their own lives.

The Hunger GamesA plethora of problematic subjects are addressed in dystopian literature and film. One prime example includes The Hunger Game’s plot revolving around a corrupt government drastically abusing its power. Each year the Hunger Games are held in what was once North America, resulting in 23 deaths, all to exhibit how indomitable the government is. Themes like this are reoccurring, and of course insightful when imagining how much influence our own government could gain over time if not checked by its people, but there are numerous other significant issues dystopian fiction fails to touch on.

Divergent and Insurgent, for example, are two pieces that have become incredibly popular since their releases in April 2011 and May 2012, respectively. Together, these books sold nearly three million units in 2014, and their movie adaptations are regularly played on cable and on demand. The two represent everything from matters of society and class to immoral authorities. One thing they (and many other novels of this sort) fail to incorporate into their plot is sexism. Sexism is a genuine problem encountered by so many in society today yet, utilizing a strong female lead who faces no conflict regarding her gender, the Divergent series completely dismisses the fact. In addition, The Hunger Games features two African American main characters, Thresh and Rue, who suffer no reproach on the basis of their race—except by some of the real life book readers. These types of injustices are ignored in much of today’s dystopian film and literature perhaps to avoid offense; although, ignoring such issues in novels cannot erase them from reality in a sense, and they deserve recognition.

The GiverBy bringing attention to regularly overlooked issues such as racial and gender inequality in dystopian fiction, we as a society can begin to reflect on where our discriminatory behavior may one day take us. It is important for novels like Unwind to center around political topics such as abortion, and for The Giver to focus on the importance of human memory. However, sweeping other prominent issues under the rug is to pretend they never happened, and that they are not still happening to this day. Authors seem to be sending a message to victims of such wrongs that their suffering is irrelevant to the greater picture, but it’s important readers and teenagers especially, know this is inaccurate. Failing to incorporate such malicious themes in their works closes them off to a larger, more diverse audience.

Books and movies should strive to highlight more realistic social injustices. Doing so would help to enlighten people concerning these topics, and shape them to express more empathy and compassion for those affected. Young adults who struggle personally with these issues would relate even more passionately to the characters involved in such fiction. Films and novels shining light on these problems would greatly appeal to both victims and those seeking to bring about change. If the crimes of the present are ignored, they will inevitably flourish into something bigger and far more ghastly.

About the Author

Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.

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