As you can tell from the indicator to your right, I am reading Reached, the last book of the Matched trilogy. (Or have finished, depending on when you’re reading this. If you’re reading this in the future, trust me, I was reading it like, forever.) It’s a fantastic read, and I’m looking forward to wrapping it up soon. For those of who don’t know, it features one of my favorite subjects, a dystopian society.
Dystopian Societies are interesting subjects. Things aren’t quite post-apocalyptic, so people aren’t necessarily wearing leather. Chances are there’s a ruling class that’s all dressed alike, and everyone else is sort of hanging out in tattered rags or whatever they can find. And there’s a chosen one. Ooh, yeah. There’s a chosen one, and probably a rebellion lurking about, looking for said chosen one.
But whether you’re lording over a horrific game where you make kids kill each other, you’re burning all the books, banning emotion, making people take funky tables, or just finding some way to subjugate the masses, one thing is certain. Being the overlord (whatever you’ve called yourself... more on that in a moment) of a dystopian society tends to suck. Being the connoisseur of dystopian fiction, I’ve decided to help future leaders of dystopian societies by compiling a list of how to run the perfect dystopian society.
-As I previously mentioned, don’t pick a title for yourself that’s too megalomaniacal. Remember, you’re subjugating a large group of people here, and resources probably suck. There’s an entire ruling class. You’re not an “Overlord” or in some cases, even a “President.” Think small. Mayor? Local Dog Catcher? Something you make up? Just remember that keeping things small will keep you in touch with the common man that’s working in your underground mine.
-The ruling class in these stories are typically wearing white. Do you know what that probably costs in bleach alone? You can’t run a society that’s on it’s last legs by sinking all your money on cleaning your Officials or Peacekeepers uniforms clean. I mean, by now your resources have stopped you from having a ton of food, but one little spill and you’re out.
-Look, you’re going to have a rebellion. It’s a fact of life. You can either work with it, or you can strike against it, hoping each time that “this is it! I’ve crushed them under my mighty force.” No. No you haven’t. Chances are about half of the people that work in your mines are currently working for the rebellion, or spreading rumors about them. What I recommend is catering each meeting for the rebellion. Then you know they’re well fed, and probably too busy complimenting the spread to really focus on fighting against you.
-Ban whatever you want, but don’t ban dancing. John Lithgow was defeated by Kevin Bacon through the power of dance. Seriously.
-There’s going to be a chosen one. Whether it’s by magic, science, or someone who’s got a special skill with a bow and arrow, there’s going to be a chosen one. You can’t fight them. You just can’t. Don’t threaten their family, and for the love of God, don’t monologue. If you get a chance, take them out. And don’t do something to elevate them. That dude in the Hunger Games did everything he could to put that chick right back in the spotlight then wondered why everyone followed her. He deserved the fate that he got at the end of that book that I won’t spoil.
Paying attention to just these few rules can help you run the near-perfect dystopian society.