By Michael V. Wilson
Dystopia is an interesting word.
Before we can get to that however, we first need to understand what a utopia is; its “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.” The word was first used in the book Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More. It's generally conceived of as a man-made state of perfection, heaven on earth.
But the Latin prefix 'dis', or in this case 'dys' means:
“Apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force; used freely, especially with these latter senses, as an English formative: disability; disaffirm; disbar; disbelief; discontent; dishearten; dislike; disown.
When you attach the prefix 'dis' or 'dys' to the beginning of a word it has the effect of reversing the meaning of the word.
So a utopia with the prefix 'dis' or 'dys' added to it becomes a dystopia, an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives. George Orwell's famous book, 1984, is a prime example of a dystopia, as is his other, equally famous book, Animal Farm, even though in that case the protagonists are animals instead of people.
As the opposite of a utopia (a man-made heaven on earth), a dystopia is a man-made hell on earth.
The number of books and movies about dystopian societies, and the number of books made into movies, would fill an encyclopedia: in addition to the 2 mentioned above there is the orginal 1968 Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston and all the subsequent variations; Soylent Green, also with Charlton Heston; Logan's Run, starring Michael York; Mel Gibson's Road Warrior series; Blade Runner with Harrison Ford; Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger and all the subsequent variations; the Robocop series of movies with Peter Weller; Minority Report with Tom Cruise; the 2004-2009 Stargate: Atlantis TV series; the Jennifer Lawrence Hunger Games series of movies (originally a book); the Maze Runner movies, also originally a book; the Divergent series of movies, again originally a book; the 2017 The Handmaiden's Tale TV Series on Hulu which was also originally a book. Among the books are such works as Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury; A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, also made into a famous movie starring Malcom McDowell; Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand; Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, and Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. And this is just a taste of the dystopian books and movies that are out there. There are literally thousands of them.
Set in a wide variety of locations and times – outer space, past, present, future – with a bewildering assortment of themes and characters, these stories all share one thing in common: God is pointedly missing from the picture.
In the rare exceptions where religion (not necessarily God) is mentioned it's perverted in the most grotesque way possible. In A Handmaiden's Tale, the Book of Genesis is twisted almost beyond recognition to provide the justification for forcing the few remaining fertile women in the world to bear children for others. In Lucifer's Hammer, a “reverend” leads a patchwork army of religious fanatics turned cannibal on a rampage to cleanse the earth. Turning God, or His followers, into monsters is standard operating procedure for the rare dystopians who can bring themselves to mention Him at all.
But, for far and away the vast majority of these works, God is primarily notable for His absence.
This allows the writers to come up with their own morality, their own values, their own ideas of right and wrong, and their own laws and methods of enforcing them. Inevitably they create totalitarian societies that are nothing short of atrocious. In these worlds even the hero isn't really a hero; they're just thrown into a situation where they muddle through without any clear idea what they're doing beyond simply trying to survive. In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Katniss Everdeen becomes a reluctant symbol of mass rebellion against the tyrannical Capital. She doesn't want to be their hero, or their symbol; she tries to get out of it because she has no guiding morals in her life, no overriding authority to tell her the difference between right and wrong. Watching her clumsy efforts we find ourselves wondering why anyone would follow such an inept and confused “hero.” She's just being tossed around by events beyond her control.
In Soylent Green, the title of the movie is also the favorite food for a starving population totally dependent on government handouts to provide their sustenance. The government doesn't hand out food stamps or money, it hands out actual food, measured out by the kilogram from bins protected by armed guards. There are several varieties of soylent products; green, blue, red, white, etc., but the green kind is apparently the best tasting. There's only one problem; as the protagonist cop (Charlton Heston) tries to solve the murder of a high ranking official, he discovers that soylent green is made from people! Instead of their bodies being buried, the secretive government “recycles” them into food. Without the guidance of Almighty God, government becomes almighty and uses people as if they were cattle, in this case, literally.
In the Divergent series of movies people are divided, like it or not, into one of five separate groups, each with their assigned duties and tasks – for their own good of course. Anyone who doesn't fit into one of these groups is considered dangerous, labeled “divergent” and hunted down and killed. All this is run by – once again – a secretive cabal of government overlords who are doing it for the good of the whole of humanity, and if a few people are killed along the way, well, that's the price of progress. A similar situation is created in the Maze Runner movies, where a group of young people are being experimented on by a ruthless bureaucracy that feels entitled to change their lives, or destroy them, on a whim to satisfy their bizarre own aims and desires. God is completely ignored in these movies as if He didn't even exist.
When God is thrown out or ignored, government becomes god. It reminds me of a quote from Steven Seagal in the movie Under Siege that perfectly describes a god-government, “We serve the same master, he's a lunatic, he's ungrateful and there's nothing we can do about it.”
The TV series, Stargate: Atlantis, which I first thought was fairly decent, turns out to be a godless foray into the vast reaches of space without the slightest indication the characters have any forward thinking goals beyond simply being there. There are no godly motives to use what they're finding for the betterment of the world, or to create a brighter tomorrow for their children. In fact, the world at large is kept completely ignorant of the very existence of star gates. Without a higher, nobler purpose to their lives, which only God can provide, they're just lurching from one crisis to another with no end in sight. It becomes a pointless, dismal, endless merry-go-round of purposeless fighting, pain, death, loss, retreat and regrouping then going out to fight some more. It's the very definition of dystopian.
And yet . . . and this is the strange part . . . Hollywood is trying to present all these dystopian nightmares as entertainment, as a dream world, a future to come. They're actually trying, to the best of their abilities, to come up with a better world, a better tomorrow. The harder they try, the bleaker and more horrible the results, because they leave God out every single time.
It's been said that art imitates life, and life imitates art, so these attempts by the political Left to create a godless utopia for the cinema, which always turns destructive, is a window into their souls, their plans for our future.
Excluding God from the public square, deriding Christians as racist bigots, creating gender neutral verbiage instead of the God-ordained him and her, promoting homosexual behavior and marriage to a position of supremacy over that which God intended, attacking the police (and by extension all law-and-order) as white privilege and/or racist, handing the government total control of your personal health and well being – Obamacare and the newest Bernie Sanders proposal for single payer coverage – ignoring the law breaking of high ranking officials, continually attacking those who support Trump or even the rule of law, allowing unelected judges to override the will of the people and legislate from the bench, bringing in thousands then tens of thousands of Muslims who hate everything we stand for, endless agitating for the normalization of lawbreaking border crossers, trumping the benefits of socialism and the promise of “free stuff” to mathematically challenged young people, promoting the savage murder of babies in the womb; all these things and more, are part of the broad and easy road to a godless, man-made hell on earth.
For them to succeed, all you have to do is . . . nothing.