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Literary Citizen in Training


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The Dystopia- Favorite Social Issue Addressed in Fiction

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Dystopian fiction has always been one of my favorite concepts in literature. Ever since reading Orwells’s 1984 in high school, followed by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New WorldI developed a slight, SLIGHT, obsession. A dystopia, for those of you who don’t know, is basically the opposite of a utopia. It’s an idea proposed to challenge the concepts used to achieve a utopia. For instance, Judge Dredd (super-future-cold-hearted-etc cop) does a hell of a job enforcing the law and minimizing crime rates, but does so at the cost of impoverished citizenship with leaps and bounds of social prejudice. For the rich this might seem like a utopia, but even from that perspective, I doubt you could argue against the derelict living conditions of 90% of the population. Some other fun dystopian universes I enjoy (Yay!):

  • The Matrix
  • Equilibrium
  • Clockwork Orange
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Blade Runner
  • Animal Farm
  • I, Robot
  • Hunger Games (Not a favorite but there may be consequences if it goes unnoticed!)

Anyway, these fictional representations were created to convey the important alternative to over controlling attempts toward utopian conditions. The term was coined by John Stuart Mill in 1868,  but took off in the fictional world in the 20th century, fortunately for us. The underlying theme is built upon current/future political and cultural concerns. George Orwell wrote 1984 shortly after World War II in response to the rise to totalitarian governments such as Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. They are usually directed at current social, political, and economical trends that are exaggerated to create satirical alternate universes.

Here’s an excellent slideshow explanation by Arik Durfee on Prezi

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So why do we enjoy this genre?

Powerlessness. The world is constantly changing around us, environmentally, politically, socially, and we often have no control over these changes, leaving us feeling powerless. Much like the heroes and heroines in dytopian stories, we feel oppressed, monitored, and controlled. Dystopian stories offer a surreal escape from the numbing world we live in. So why don’t people look toward optimistic stories of love and happiness for their escape? An article by Lauren Sarner of the New York Daily News states it well:

Dystopian realities tend to come with incredibly high stakes. Government oppression and corruption is a common trope, as well as wars, forced conformity, religious fanaticism, and heroes facing odds that are incredible to the point of hopelessness. Most of all, they feature heroes fighting against those odds. Dystopian heroes typically suffer more than ordinary heroes, and not all of them make it out alive, but they all put up a fight.

Read more: Dystopian Fiction and its Appeal

I think people reflect themselves in the story. They want to be the character who has the courage to stand up against an overpowering force. Stand up for what’s right, and persevere against the immense hardships they endure. So, why do you think people, YA and adult, are so interested in dystopian settings?

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Eric’s Current Affairs Round-up

20130530054212!Spartacus_season_3_posterIf you’ve ever started this series, nothing else need be said. But, if you’re of the unfortunate souls yet to discover it, take heed and begin the journey. I’ve long awaited this final season, and just now finally got around to watching it. It is likely one of my favorite series… EVER! Having just finished watching Breaking Bad, that’s saying something. The show itself revolves around Spartacus. For those of you unaware of the tale, Spartacus was a slave who led a three year rebellion during the roman empire. Stanley Kubrick actually had a movie titled Spartacus as well. As far as action goes, this show is unparallelled. I will give a mild disclaimer: there is basically soft-core porn and heavy gore in the show. It definitely captures the roman era, though, and I never found it to be distasteful.  I give it 5 stars! Watch it!

670px-0,800,0,449-Kill-la-kill_wp_pc_1920x1080_aAnother show I recently started watching, Kill La Kill. This high intensity anime is equal parts action, velocity, bizarre, and fun. The show never seems to take itself too seriously, and even in the most dire encounters, the protagonist will fall victim to co-star, Mako’s, humorous side-tracks. Ryuko, the main character, searches for her father’s killer and finds herself on the steps of a totalitarian high school run by who she suspects to be the culprit. Students vie for power through school uniforms that range from one to three star goku uniforms (more stars=more power). The fights are action packed and stretch the bounds of reality. The overtly sexualized uniforms for some characters does take a little getting used to, but anyone familiar with anime would understand. I haven’t yet finished the series, so keep the comments quiet! If you are a fan of anime, I’d definitely give it a go. Episode one sets the pace pretty quickly.

babyJust another day down the road to the wild wacky world of Japan (in the best way)! Probably not a lot of people aware of them yet, but the young girls featured above are part of a growing sensation in Japan known as Baby Metal. Mixing the instrumentals of death metal with the vocalizations of Japanese Pop, the girls have created a strange, but remarkable, genre. They’ve been around for a few years, (Yes, even though they are already so young!). I discovered them on YouTube with one of their hit songs, Gimme Chocolate. I’d strongly advise checking out that link with your speakers turned to maximum. Definitely not a band for everyone, but the catchy lyrics and dominating guitar shreds/drum solos get me pumped up. I’ve been using them for my workouts lately. Very effective.

 


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Literary DeathMatch BSU

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Last Friday, March 21st, I went to an event called literary deathmatch, a showdown between creative writers where they display a few pieces and then move on via audience voting. Ball State has broken up their preliminaries into three Fridays for fifteen students to weigh their works against one another. On March 21st, the even took place at Village Green Records. I’d never been there before, and wow, was it just a little bit cramp. Aside from that, the five presenters were great.

1-Kendra Roberts

2- Ethan Rivers

3-Brittany Means (A fellow Lit Citizen and classmate) See her blog here

4-Matt Ryan

5-Orion Joll

Since then, the winners and advancing writers have been announced! Brittany Means and Orion Joll will be moving on! Though the polls were anonymous, I have no problem admitting that my front-running candidate was Brittany. I wouldn’t be surprised if she takes the competition.

The next events are as follows-

Friday 3/28 – 6PM @ The Cup

Jeff Owens- (Another Literary Citizen) See his blog here!

Brianna Pierce

Brandy Banister- (Yet Another LitCit) Blog here!

Cooper Cox

Ben Rogers

 

Friday 4/04 – 6PM @ Bracken Library 104

Paul Enzmann

Sarah Hollowell

Kaiti Crittenden

Camille Isis Germain

Blake Mellencamp

 

For more information on the contest, you can read about it on the dedicated Facebook page, here.