Art can be a very powerful commentary on real life events, whether it’s through books, movies, television, theatre, etc. As a lover of all things fiction. I love getting lost in new stories in any form. But lately, I can’t help but see how some of my favourite works of fiction are very closely resembling real life, which is scary. Fiction is supposed to be an escape from real life but now it feels like fiction is becoming reality. (**Please remember that all interpretations of the following fictional works are my own**)
Back in 2008, Disney Pixar predicted what life would be like in 2805 in WALL-E but their vision of 2805 seems to be happening in 2017. Capitalism and consumption is our way of life, the environment is in a critical state, obesity is a real problem, and technology has taken over. In 2017, we are so focused on consumption of the latest and greatest products. Take cell phones for example. It doesn’t matter what kind of cell phone you have, they’re only meant to last about a year until the newest one comes out. Then when the newest one comes out, you throw out your phone that’s a year old and still perfectly functional because you want to get that extra pixel of clarity on your phone’s camera. And the profits that the cell phone companies make off their crazy high priced cell phones are put back into research and development for their next phone when it should be put into e-waste and properly disposing of their technology. Sustainability seems to take a back seat to profit and growth of businesses in the western world. Companies want to provide as many products as possible for the maximum price consumers will pay and they don’t consider what happens to their now obsolete product. Because of this wasteful behaviour, the environment has now reached critical levels. Companies take and take and take and take resources from the environment and never give anything back. Rainforests are being cut down at alarming rates, we’re running out of oil and natural resources, and so many other problems. If we don’t stop this, the Earth is going to look like it does in WALL-E way sooner than it should. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty passionate about the environment and leaving the world in a better state than how we found it. But we are destroying the planet so fast, our grandkids won’t have anywhere to live that isn’t disgusting and badly damaged. So just think about that next time you’re sitting next to a window on a sunny day and all the lights in the room are turned on.
One more thing I think the movie had good commentary on was technology/laziness/obesity and how all of these things are related. We are constantly surrounded by technology and screens. We’d rather sit inside and watch TV on a beautiful day than go outside for a walk or a bike ride. We’d rather sit on our computers watching exercise videos instead of going to the gym. We’d rather order fast food for dinner instead of making a home cooked meal. I think this is partly because we are LAZY. We don’t want to do anything that doesn’t come easy to us or takes more than 10 minutes to do. Even if we do go out for a walk we take our phones with us so we don’t miss a tweet that will still be there when we get back in 30 minutes. If we keep doing this we’re going to end up like the fat people in the hover chairs in WALL-E who are waited on 24/7 by technology – they have screens in front of them at all hours of the day (and they talk to each other through screens), their chairs take them to their food, they sit in their chairs by the pool but don’t actually swim, etc. I for one don’t want to end up like that (completely helpless and dependent on technology). Technology is also taking over our lives in other ways and I don’t just mean cell phones and tablets and that sort of stuff. Even at McDonald’s now there are self ordering screens, so you don’t have to interact with anyone until they call your order number. I see this becoming detrimental to society because 1) it’s taking away jobs (which, as a student looking for part time work, is a bad thing) and 2) screens are so limiting to human interaction and relationships. This was also apparent in WALL-E that no one had seen each other face-to-face in a long time except for the two that fell out of their chairs. WALL-E is one of my favourite Pixar movies and I think it provides some really interesting commentary on the state of the world and watching it now in 2017 is kind of frightening to see that this is what the world is becoming.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games has also been a source of commentary on the state of the world. You know it must have some important, deep meaning when you read it in grade 9 English class because lord knows English teachers love symbolism! In many ways it is a good reflection of the state of the world from everything from the Districts to the leadership of Panem. In The Hunger Games, the districts are either very rich or very poor or somewhere in between. Districts 1 and 2 and the Capitol are the wealthiest. They have pretty much everything they could ever want and have an abundance of it and they don’t have to worry about their kids dying in The Games because someone else has been trained to do that. They have access to the best of everything, just like most Western countries do. They don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or where their kids are going to school, etc. Districts 11 and 12 on the other hand are the poorest of the poor, clearly representative of developing countries. They have limited resources, Katniss and Gale hunt for food because it’s more than they’ll get otherwise. Citizens of these districts forced to enter their kids in the Reaping in order to get more food and these kids have very low chance of survival in the Games because they are malnourished and have not been trained. These districts are neglected by the Capitol and wealthy districts in a similar way that developing countries don’t often get the support they need from developed countries.
President Snow’s leadership is another thing that scarily resembles reality. He is a tyrannical leader with little respect for human life. He just wants to ensure that he doesn’t lose his position of power and will do whatever it takes to keep it. So many leaders around the world are like this. Leaders make crazy promises (like say building a wall around the country) to protect themselves from something ever going wrong. But in reality, things go wrong (inside and outside the wall) and not everything can be controlled. The controlling leaders of the world today are impinging on people’s individual rights and freedoms just like how Snow keeps everyone under very careful watch at all hours of the day. And above all of this, the Games take 23 lives every year and Snow doesn’t care. He just sees it as a way to keep the districts in line even though it is extremely damaging to the country of Panem by the end of the series and literally tears Panem apart.
Another popular show is The 100. This show deals with some issues that are very real and present in the world today. The first issue it deals with, mainly in season 1 is the treatment of aboriginals and those who are different than us. When the 100 first get sent to the ground, they expected to be the only ones on the ground and when they find out there are others on the ground (the Grounders) who survived a nuclear explosion, their first instinct is to wage war against them. The grounders could have been a great resource for these 100 kids but they wanted to kill them because they were different and believed they would be killed if they didn’t kill first. The whole “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality is so dangerous as seen with all the police brutality lately. The 100 try to introduce the Grounders to a new way of life and new weapons such as guns even though they have developed their own way of life. However, the 100, think their way of life is superior and try to assimilate the grounders into their culture, which is what we’ve been doing to Aboriginal people for years and years and years.
One thing The 100 handled very poorly, especially in season 3, is LGBTQ+ relationships. There are openly LGBTQ+ relationships on the show and in almost all cases one of the partners has ended up dead. While this might have been a poor choice by the show runner, homophobia like this still exists in the world. I mean look at the events that occurred in Orlando back in June 2016 where people were shot and killed BECAUSE they were LGBTQ+. In the show, the characters weren’t shot because they were gay, they just happened to get in the path of a bullet, but they still died nonetheless. The LGBTQ+ community loved this show BECAUSE of these relationships but now it’s gone back to the usual heteronormativity that is seen on TV 99% of the time. My point is, it’s 2017. LGBTQ+ relationships should not be groundbreaking. People in this community want to feel safe and putting these relationships on TV makes it seem normal and acceptable (which it totally is) but killing partners or abusive LGBTQ+ relationships on TV doesn’t make the community feel safe because they realize that this is what happens in real life.
What we have to start realizing is that unless we start cleaning up our act a bit, these post-apocalyptic worlds could become a reality faster than it should. I don’t know about you, but that’s kind of scary.
What do you think about “art imitating life”? Let me know in the comments!