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Tomorrow never knows: Utopia vs Dystopia

We live in turbulent times. It’s not exactly a secret. People all over the world watch the news with dread, wondering just what exactly the future will bring. Well, as the expression goes, “art imitates life”. While everyone questions what we are heading towards, artists will show us their own ideas of what may be. There will soon be an art of all kinds made specifically to reflect on this tumultuous year, and how it will influence the years to come. Some will give us visions of an idyllic utopia, where all of society’s problems only survive in the texts of history’s books. Others will show us a world plagued by its inability to escape the past and be destroyed by its self-destructive greed. This begs the question; what do audiences want to see in the art they consume, utopias or dystopias?

This is not an article about where the world is most likely headed. Art is not a place for prediction, but of creativity. The most pessimistic soul on the planet may write a story about a beautiful future if that’s what they feel the need to make. Instead, this article is about what the consumer wants to see in their art. When new movies are made, do people want to see a bleak apocalyptic future, or would this reality be too troubling for a population not willing to relive the feelings of uncertainty this year has fostered? 

Only time will give anything close to a clear answer to this question. I think it’s safe to say that people will not flock to these bleak kinds of stories. There are bound to be too many troubling thoughts/feelings that would resurface. People would much rather try and forget that these fears ever entered their minds at all.

On the other hand, would people be open to depictions of a perfect society? I don’t think they would be. Instead of feeling happy for a peaceful future, I think that people would get frustrated. We know where we want to world to be, so why don’t we just stop with the arguing and get there? Also, to those that would point out that there is no future that a global “we” would ever agree was perfect, you’re absolutely right! One person’s heaven is another person’s hell. There is no agreed-upon perfect society, so how is an artist going to create one? Any work of art about a utopia tends to rely heavily on vague concepts of happiness. Terms like “world peace” are usually thrown around a lot, but the only other thing presented is usually just optimism. To a world struggling with doubts and evils that have been ever-present throughout all of modern history, optimism would probably feel more like naive blind faith.

So, what do I think will most likely happen? Honestly, storytelling is probably going to focus much less on any type of future. Tomorrow may be uncertain, but we know what’s happening right now with terrifying certainty. People are fine with art confronting social issues in the present day because the characters of these stories are just as uncertain as we are. Nobody wants to be told that everything is done right now is all for nothing or pretend that they’re certain all the problems currently being confronted will ever be resolved. When people feel confused or unsure of what’s going to happen, they want the stories they read to be right there with them. They want to know that they’re not alone. In this time defined by isolation, togetherness would be most welcome.


About the Contributor
Kyle Makkas, Humor Writer