Friday, July 18, 2014

Help! What Are the Best Depictions of Media in Dystopian Fiction?

by Sara N.

Your assistance is needed, oh wise readers. I'm teaching an honors college course this fall on the depictions of mass media in dystopian fiction, and I want to be sure I have the best possible examples to share and discuss with my students. Can anyone suggest things I should add to the list I've already got? I'm specifically looking for instances when the mass media (newspapers, television, advertising, etc.) are used to manipulate or misinform the characters.

Here's what I've got so far (and please note that my definition of "dystopia" is pretty loose and includes totalitarian governments, complete social collapse, corporate control, and alien overlords):

1984 (book and movie): We've always been at war with Eastasia.

They Live!: Obey. Consume. Marry and reproduce.

Doctor Who — "The Long Game": Aliens manipulating human news.

WALL-E: Humans on the space ship are absorbed by consumerism.

The Hunger Games (books and movies): Any time there's a TV on, basically.

World War Z (book): The chapter describing media coverage of the fake vaccine.

Jericho — "Black Jack": A trading hub has posted hand-written news that's the new form of mass media.

Starship Troopers (movie): Service leads to citizenship = pure propaganda news.

Things I haven't checked out yet but seem promising, or that I have watched or read but can't remember specifics about mass media: Brave New World, Ready Player One, Jennifer Government, Dollhouse, Dead Set, Watchmen, Blade Runner, Book of Eli, Brazil, Children of Men, Dark Knight Rises (graphic novel), Idiocracy, Fahrenheit 451, Dark Angel, Equilibrium, The Postman, Minority Report, Robocop (either version).

So help me out, friends. Do any of the above properties feature abuse of the mass media? And what's not on my list that should be?

I'll be pairing these fictional offerings with real-world examples, such as members of Congress editing Wikipediathe Bush administration asking for global warming reports to be changed, and everything about North Korea. So can you help me teach the best darn media in dystopian fiction class that I can?

Pin It


  1. In Mira Grant's FEED, the only reliable news sources during the zombie apocalypse were bloggers.

  2. I'd definitely second Brave New World and Farenheit 451. I think there's some media misleading in Cinder as well (or possibly that's at the beginning of Scarlet). And there a certain amount of that corporate-sticky-fingers issue in Total Recall 2070 as well.