LISTS January 3, 2020

Fictional Dystopias Better Than the One We’re Living In

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The Argument: General sense of Zen calm, complete respite from the twenty-four/seven news cycle, rule of law intact, zero nationalism

Potential Drawback: That pointing and shrieking thing is a tad unsettling

Blade Runner

The Argument: Cultural diversity celebrated, most of the 1 percenters have already left for the off-world colonies, shoulder pads are back in a big way

Potential Drawback: Passive-aggressive origami 

Planet of the Apes

The Argument: Sciences receive adequate funding, atmospheric CO₂ levels at their lowest point in nineteen centuries

Potential Drawback: The only human who can talk is Charlton Heston, and he may try to kiss you

They Live

The Argument: Special glasses are capable of persuading low-information voters to withdraw their support for plutocratic ghouls

Potential Drawback: Putting glasses on may involve a ten-minute fistfight

The Matrix

The Argument: Machines provide universal health care, cool leather jackets are readily available, you can get a lot of extra mileage out of your B.A. in philosophy

Potential Drawback: The Red Pill crowd absolutely won’t shut the fuck up

The Hunger Games

The Argument: The nation’s youth receive powerful incentives to be physically fit

Potential Drawback: Newspapers of record are now made up entirely of think pieces about coal country


The Argument: Sean Connery in cherry red diaper-suspenders with sensible thigh-highs

Potential Drawback: Sean Connery in cherry red diaper-suspenders with sensible thigh-highs

Escape from New York

The Argument: Pause in gentrification leads to cheap and plentiful Manhattan real estate, Harry Dean Stanton is still alive, vaudeville theaters reopen their doors

Potential Drawback: Traffic on Queensboro Bridge further complicated by minefield


The Argument: Hey, they followed through on Infrastructure Week

Potential Drawback: On the wrong side of history when it comes to arming teachers

The City of Lost Children 

The Argument: Kids in cages are regularly rescued by Ron Perlman

Potential Drawback: Yellow-green-filter fatigue (see also: The Matrix)

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

The Argument: Government in essence a Tina Turner-ocracy, kink-shaming on the decline, your eighteen streaming services have been replaced by a single Thunderdome

Potential Drawback: Life is now basically day eight of Burning Man but with more Mel Gibson

The Running Man

The Argument: Sadistic game show host who runs the country is launched into oblivion by a rocket sled 

Potential Drawback: None

Sean Gill is a writer and filmmaker who won Pleiades’ 2019 Gail B. Crump Prize, The Cincinnati Review's 2018 Robert and Adele Schiff Award, and the 2016 Sonora Review Fiction Prize. He has studied with Werner Herzog, documented public defenders for National Geographic, and contributed to The Iowa Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Michigan Quarterly Review, and So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.