Friday, December 28, 2012

What Will You Do In a Dystopian?

'The Wastelands' photo (c) 2008, LudwigVon Wolfzahn - license:

The world as you know it has come to an end. The dead have come back as zombies, plagues has wiped out half the population, aliens have invaded, the power has gone out, vampires have taken over the world - something terrible has happened and the world as you know it is over. We now live in a darker world, a grimmer world, a world where everyday is a fight for survival in a harsh and unforgiving society. You are living in a dystopia - an imperiled dystopia where every day is a battle for survival.

What will you do? After all, as one of the few survivors, every person counts - so what will your role be?

If you are GBLT? You will rot. Or possibly groan if you’re a zombie. Alas, the grim darkness of the future is extremely cis and straight. It’s is beyond exceptionally rare for GBLT people to survive apocalypses. Revolution, The Walking Dead, Falling Skies, The Strain Trilogy, Terranova, Fringe (season 5) - GBLT people are dead, dead and more dead. It seems most desperate scourges that wipe out mankind are run by the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s possible GBLT people may serve as canaries or early warning systems - straight, cis people if the GBLT folk start dying in droves, it’s time to stock canned goods and get yourself some weapons.

If you are a straight POC then some of you may have survived - but you will have died in disproportionately large numbers. Zombies seem to like the taste of melanin. You’re role is to be the support staff. Don’t trouble yourself talking much - like Dai on Falling Skies or T-Dog on The Walking Dead, you’re there to just stand in the background while the straight, White guy speaks to ensure that there’s important diversity on screen. Tread carefully though because you’re much much more likely to die than the more numerous White folk - the grim dark future is even more dangerous for you than any other. It’s vitally important you split up - the closer you are to another POC, the greater your chances are of dying until there’s only one. This may be why the Morales family decided to take off all on their own in season 1 of The Walking Dead, they realised how little chance they had of surviving if they stayed in such a diverse group. It’s a lesson T-Dog and Oscar should have paid attention to. Sadly, if (hah - when) you do die, there’s a good chance everyone will forget your name soon after - as T-Dog, Oscar, Jackie and Dai have discovered. But they were really sad about that alien.

If you’re a straight woman you get to have a theme holiday back to the 1950s! Despite the fact that, as inhabitants of the 21st century west, you probably have no clue how to cook on an open fire or clean clothes in a river these chores will inevitably fall into your hands. Your best hope to avoid this is to be a medical professional - caregiving and bandage rolling are age old womanly duties, after all. Some of you may be tempted to pick up guns and maybe fight the rampaging hordes out to get you but The Walking Dead has shown us repeatedly the consequences of women with firearms (and bows). This may be why Falling Skies prefers to arm children and young teenagers.

On the plus side, if you were frustrated in all those singles bars and internet dating, you’re in luck. Your chances of being a love interest are huge - no more unwanted singlehood, it’s nearly inevitable that you’ll find yourself a man.

If you’re a women of colour you can dodge this, occasionally, by trading in your “unwoman” card and becoming silent back up alongside the men of colour (you still better make sure you don’t gather in too great a number or one of you’s going to die). This is especially easy if you can master the silent angry eyes like Michonne on The Walking Dead and be a good weapon. There’s also a good chance of you being badly injured though. And if something’s going to blow up, you better run because as Jackie from The Walking Dead found out, no concerned White guys are going to hang around trying to get you out.

If you’re a straight White man your job is to be our leader and saviour! You are destined for leadership and truly only you can occupy the blessed position of protagonist! This comes with many perks

Firstly, you’re almost guaranteed to be a badass. If you’re not now, there’s a good chance you’ll pick it up quickly. Part of this could be that you also gain some amazing plot armour. You can do anything, no matter how ridiculous, and you will survive and get out - just look at Tom deciding to go for a ride on a spaceship on Falling Skies. You can also be pretty useless, objectionable or outright dangerous and you’re still going to be treated as useful, valuable or not a complete liability - look at Pope on Falling Skies and Ephraim in The Fall Trilogy you’d have to work to sabotage your side more - but they stay special and just won’t die.

Since you are natural born leaders everyone should bow to straight, White guy, no-one’s opinion matters as much as yours. So it’s probably better you suppress any attempt to challenge your leadership. You could establish a Rickocracy like The Walking Dead or just take advantage of an overwhelmingly White, male military command like Falling Skies. Sometimes you don’t even need to do that, just speak and they will follow no matter how little reason they have to - just like Ephraim who can get people to follow him even after he is revealed as considering treachery.

There are a few exceptions - but they are few and far between, you’re going to have to get very very lucky to slip through the cracks.