Power is the most influential and alarming aspect of the modern world. It plays a strong part in how society and individuals are controlled and contained worldwide. It is represented to us through the use of social media, government control, and everyday social settings. Through the use of Dystopian visual and written text, it helps to represent the corruption of power and where this corruption will lead us to in the future. I think through the use of studied Dystopian text I have been allowed to see the danger of power and the warnings that are laid before us, particularly since George Orwell’s, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
George Orwell expressed a warning to us if we carried on being lead and not leading we will lose all control, even of our own minds and bodies. He displayed the idea of manipulation through power, control, and surveillance in “Nineteen Eighty Four” to the victims of the world. His novel followed a simple man, Winston Smith and how love and fierceness would lead him to rebel against the totalitarian government. Ultimately this leads Winston to be caught by the party and giving into power.“Freedom is the ability to say that 2+2=4. But in the end, the government would announce that 2+2=5 and you would have to believe it.” This represents how Winston fought for his love and his beliefs but ultimately those who were of serve importance would out rule all hope he had in challenging their power. This connects with Stephen Speilberg’s, Minority Report, “Sometimes, in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” This is because in order for Winston to attempt to challenge their power and fight for the love and inner power he had found he had to risk the possibility of not achieving this and losing everything. He had to make the choice of whether he wanted to risk his life to live a better one not just for himself, but for the surrounding society. Throughout the novel, we are constantly reminded of the slogan the party posts across buildings, telescreens and over the speakers. “From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the party: WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.“ This represents how war isn’t peaceful but under the misplaced power, they have the ability to manipulate society to believe war is peace. This relates to the real world because government leaders are able to convince their countries of a change in opinion and that it is for a better. They take away individuals personal opinions by convincing them of better choices. They don’t warn you of the dangers only the positive aspects of the change. This quote alone is one of the many warnings that are displayed to us through dystopian text. This is because it is warning us that if we believe war isn’t peace we shouldn’t change our opinion because someone with a higher place in society doesn’t want you to think this.
“The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree. Root to tip, central trunk branching, and re-branching spreading wider in ever-thinner, searching fingers. The shape of power is the outline of a living thing straining outward, sending its fine tendrils a little further, and a little further yet.” The opening quote to Naomi Alderman’s, “The Power” represents how not only in the novel but also in the real world that power spreads through people like wildfire. Throughout the opening chapter to the text, we read of women passing power through each other and enlighting power within one in other. Men are running for the hills when they come to the understanding that the power isn’t only in the younger generations but in all woman. All of a sudden men lose all power and strength they have been gifted with within the world and are now under the influence of women. This connects to Minority Report, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” This relates because someone who has more than others, in this case, woman having power and men none they gain natural control due to their benefits on others. This text is especially illuminating because in most dystopian visual and written text there is usually government control, security and often a strong male character leading the way. This novel shows that women can also be the hero and characters can change places. “Boys dressing as girls to seem more powerful. Girls dressing as boys to shake off the meaning of power, or leaping on the unexpected, wolf in sheep’s clothing.” This resembles how power can influence people to hide from not only society but them true selves. When times become tedious and alarming many individuals want to hide and stay hidden until it passes by, but in some it sparks courage and strength in who they are. Power is a terrifying concept because of this hold society has formed it to have over the weak and faint-hearted.
Charlie Brooker’s, “Black Mirror” Television series has become one of the most alarming dystopian’s to date. The series features a range of suspenseful episodes, each with new characters, worlds, and concepts. A stand out episode that represents power through society strongly is “Nose Dive”. “Nose Dive” follows a well-established woman, Lacie Pound and how she uses social media and online networking to create a better life for herself by impressing and pleasing others. All interactions with members of the public lead to sending ratings out of 5 to one another and the higher your rating the better life and person you are, like a celebrity in a real-world context. Lacie wants to live in a flash apartment with facilities only wealthy people have but she can’t afford this place and the only way she can get it is to get a better rating. “Pardon the term – mid to low range folks. So in terms of quality, you could do with a punch up right there. Ideally, that is upvotes from quality people.” This represents how in order to live in a quality subdivision Lacie will leave her family and friends because they aren’t classified as quality people and replace them for fake friends from her childhood years in order to achieve this goal. “This whole ranking thing, comparing yourself to people that only pretend to be happy.” Black Mirror represents a warning to us of where social media will take us if we continue to let it manipulate us. This episode expresses a world we don’t believe could ever happen because we have more self-power then this, but this alone is a symbol of the manipulation it has over us. The power of social media makes us believe this could never happen to us but this is exactly where it is leading us too. A recent article on “LadBible” reports that China is launching a programme in 20/20 that will rank citizens based on their behaviour, inspired by “Nose Dive”. Many trials have already been done and have had positive results. This also shows how the warning through dystopian texts can be taken in to account by those with power as a way of life we should lead. Rather than taking this as a warning for society they decide to live out these worlds that most would find a nightmare style of living. “Now you’ve got nothing left to lose, I don’t even have something worth losing, not yet… until then that’s how the world works.”
Woven throughout my other text I have spoken of Stephen Spielberg’s “Minority Report”, a strong representation of power through technology and higher power within society. It follows John Anderson, head of the precrime department in Washington D.C set in 2054. The precrime department has 3 precogs who see crime before it happens and the precrime department must solve the crime before it is committed through a series of visions the precogs provide. These visions result in John committing a murder to a man he has never seen before and he has 30 hours to solve the cause to his committing this crime before he does it. The end result is the owner of the precrime department committing crimes and not being caught out for it because he has hacked the system. “You see the dilemma, don’t you. If you don’t kill me, precogs were wrong and precrime is over. If you do kill me, you go away, but it proves the system works. The precogs were right. So, what are you going to do now? What’s it worth? Just one more murder? You’ll rot in hell with a halo, but people will still believe in precrime. All you have to do is kill me like they said you would. Except you know your own future, which means you can change it if you want to. You still have a choice, Lamar. Like I did.” This represents how the power of his empire (precrime unit) makes him want to prove it works but in order to do this he will have to kill John resulting in him being imprisoned for life. Or he can believe in his inner power of being an example of how the precrime has faults and isn’t always correct and not murdering John but still being imprisoned for previous murders he has committed. This represents how power can face off against equal power and how it will result negatively for somebody either way. Showing how the misuse of power within the text was Lamar manipulating society to believe precrime was the safest form of crime-solving in the world and it had no faults. Except with all power comes faults, human or technological.
To conclude, power has always been the biggest influence on the way we live out our lives, but only in the past few decades has it become evident to us what an influence it has. There is no better genre then dystopian to express these realities to us. Without dystopian text and their surreal worlds, we wouldn’t be anywhere near as aware of the corruption of power we are surrounded by as we are today. Without the warnings and alarming messages these texts have presented to us, what they express in their worlds would be our reality. But it can still become reality unless we fight the corruption we are absorbed in but to scared to see.