Narratives can be used as powerful tools to encourage an audience to question the cultural beliefs and practices of their world and to inspire action among them. Aldous Huxley’s speculative fiction ‘Brave New World’ (1932) and James McTeigue’s film ‘V for Vendetta’ (2006) use the dystopic conventions present in their context to comment on the negative concerns of society which may be exacerbated in the future if disregarded by an audience. Both composers explore the extremities of technological advancements and the failure of a submissive society to question powerful authority through their dystopic worlds to evoke emotion and create a lasting impact on its audience.
Composers develop and expose dystopic worlds through their speculative narratives as metaphors for the fears of their predictions surrounding developed issues in their context. During Huxley’s 1958 interview he revealed his concerns for the continuing advancements of technology and the complete dominance of scientific processes in his context. In the first chapter of the novel, we are exposed to the mass production of children. The hyperbolic statistic, “I’m working on a wonderful Delta-Minus ovary at this moment… Over twelve thousand seven hundred children already”, forces the audience to question the inhumane desire for mass-produced perfection. A terrifying reality is exposed to the audience as the appearing utopic world is revealed to be dystopic. The exposure to scientific reliance in the World State allows the audience to acknowledge concealed dystopic parallels in their own world. For example, the scientific involvement during conception in ‘Brave New World’ made apparent through scientific language can be compared in our society to the rising use of IVF and other fertilization methods of conceiving. The differing growth processes used in the hatchery, ultimately resulting in divided castes among society is comparable to the increasing involvement of genetic modification among the upbringing of different species in order to achieve humanities desired perfection in the organism. “There is always soma, delicious soma” uses repetition to highlight the total dependence of these dominant technological advancements in the World State as society’s individuals are reliant on this drug to find contentment in their lives. A familiar reality is revealed to the audience as they are encouraged to question their own societies drug abuse. Through Huxley's imagined world, the audience is subjected to the harsh realities of the dystopic future they are predicted to encounter.
A representation of the abuse of technology and violation of power to create a submissive society exemplifies McTeigue’s concerns to allow his audience to question technology and provoke fearful emotions. ‘V for Vendetta’ effectively exposes the government's corrupt authority through the dominant use of surveillance to monitor and control the city. “Once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have sensors and systems of surveillance causing your conformity”. This dialogue highlights the government's complete power through technology over the population as they remove a person’s ability to obtain individual opinions causing submission. In the film, James McTeigue stories, the devastating outbreak of the St. Mary’s virus at Three Waters to expose the politically introduced false flag event as a mean for gaining power. The fascist party, Norsefire, are evidenced using this biological attack and abuse of science in order to gain power, which can be contextually compared to the dystopic reality of the political strategy involved with Nuclear War. Audiences of modern contexts are encouraged to acknowledge the huge impact of technology such as the media and its involvement in a government’s communication provoking them to question their ultimate motifs and challenge their success. Through his film McTeigue exposes his audience to dystopic practices of his context encouraging them to form opinions on these beliefs and practices in their own society.
Composers expose dystopic worlds through their stories to highlight consequences of unchallenged power and evoke a passion in the audience to fight for a change in their society. In the World State submission is achieved by the government through medical conditioning at the Hatchery and conditioning center during growth. “That is the secret of happiness and virtue-liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny” challenges the reader to question the meaning of happiness without freedom. The audience may be conflicted by idealized happiness and the consequent loss of freedom. Due to default emotions individuals in the World State have little abilities in forming their own values and opinions and therefore challenging power. John the savage is used by Huxley as a direct voice for his concerns regarding his context. Due to John’s upbringing in the reservation and his genetic background he has avoided the medical conditioning of the society he is exposed to and is therefore physically unable to live cohesively among them. As John voices his dissatisfaction with the World State through adjectival choice in “Well, I’d rather be unhappy than have the sort of false, lying happiness you were having here”, Huxley’s similar distain for morals and beliefs in his society are exposed. However, as John voices his opinions, the intense level of conditioning among individuals restricts them from being able to acknowledge their flaws and attempt to achieve change. Through exposing the consequences of dystopic worlds and unchallenged power within them Huxley is able to encourage his audience to seek change and form individual opinions.
Comparingly, ‘V for Vendetta’ represents the influence of corrupt authority in achieving submission among society as created by conditioning through fear. “He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded was your silent obedient consent”. The irony in V’s dialogue describes the exploitation of basic human rights in order to sustain compliance. The government can be evidenced using fear and persecution to take of advantage of the society ensuring their submission. The scene of Gordon’s death uses dark lighting and camera angles to evoke feelings of fear in the audience. The high angle shot of Gordon show his helplessness against authority as low camera angles of Creedy display his dominance and power. Society’s suppressive reaction to power can be evidenced through Evey’s position in this scene as she hides herself out of fear of authority. McTeigue utilizes historical context in order to create links between this government and other historical regimes such as the Holocaust and the dominant use of red and black as a central emblem is utilized to create a direct parallel to the Nazi swastika. This is resultant to an audience remaining politically active and opinionated to ensure consequences such as the ones being exposed through this dystopic world never occur in their own societies.
To conclude stories, have immense abilities in positioning an audience to question societal concerns and evoke power for change. As explored through the speculative fiction ‘Brave New World’ and the dystopic film ‘V for Vendetta’ the exposure of technology abuse and unchallenged power gives readers the opportunity to question their own contextualized beliefs and practices and be inspired to seek for change.