Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Final Project Proposal

1. Bibliography

Portal. October 9th , 2007. Valve Corporation. Nov. 19th, 2013. Video Game.

Fallout 3. October 28th, 2008. Bethesda Softworks. Bethesda Game Studios. Nov. 19th , 2013. Video Game.
  •        I’ll be using Portal and Fallout 3 as examples of  two different displays of dystopian societies. Portal is subtler while the Fallout universe is blatantly dystopian but also post-apocalyptic.
  •        I will be utilizing material from my 2nd Revision (all about Portal and Marcuse)

 Dick, Phillip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. New York: Random House, 1968. Print.
  •       DADES provides me with a literary source of dystopia and it also relates to the post apocalyptic society in Fallout.
  • ·     If I need another literary source, I plan on adding 1984 by Orwell

Star Trek. J.J. Abrams. Paramount Pictures. 2009. Film.
  • Star Trek will give me the rare example of a futuristic utopian society not prevalent in today’s media and will be part of the counterargument
  •    I haven’t watched the film yet (or much Star Trek at all) but depending on the depiction of utopia, I may use other parts of the Star Trek universe and/or try to find another source. 
Marcuse, Herbert. One-Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon, 1964. Web.
  •        As with Portal, I will be pulling material from my 2nd Revision on Marcuse’s philosophies on industrial societies and mass media.
  •        Marcuse will act as the main source material with the video games/film/book all relating to it

Moylan, Tom. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia . Boulder: Westview Press, 2000. eBook. <>.
  •        This will act as my academic source on what actually defines utopian, dystopian, and why media clings to the depiction of dystopia.

2. Argument
            We have studied a few futuristic societies during our time in this class, specifically Portal and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. These mediums along with a lot of other pieces of work that I have played/read all have a dystopian twist to them. In fact, it is hard to find a film, book, or game that depicts a completely desirable future. The creators’ of these works let dystopia dominate the future science fiction genre. In many ways, the dystopian society is just an extension and amplification of Marcuse’s philosophies. The questions I will be attempting to answer:

  •        Why does dystopia dominate future science fiction?
  •        What characteristics of Portal, DADES, Fallout etc. make them dystopian and Marcusian
  •        How does One Dimensional Man not only relate to these society’s depicted, but also how does it act as a precedent and basis that the creators of dystopian mediums follow.
  •        Why is there a reluctance to depict utopian societies?
  •        How is Star Trek utopian and go against Marcuse’s principals?

 As for a counterargument, pieces of utopian science fiction do exist, but they are far and few between. By examining these, specifically Star Trek, I will examine what could entice someone to create a utopian piece of work. Also, I will try to relate a utopian society to Marcuse’s work.

The reader should care about at least two aspects of this argument. First, it effects what kind of media they are viewing. They are always being presented with a dysfunctional future. Why and what effect will this have on them? Also, they should care because if we are constantly putting out mediums that depict dystopia, it could have implications on our reality.

3. Marcuse
            As I stated, Marcuse will act as a reference to most if not all the pieces of media I will be examining. Marcuse is the blanketing theme that can relate all these works. I will also be using Marcuse’s view of his society in his time and what effect that could have had on our views of our future.

4. Revision

            I’m definitely trying to go in a different direction from my 2nd Revision because I feel like I have a completely new argument. However, it will provide me a starting point  and material from Portal and One Dimensional Man that I can utilize. I probably will not examine Portal as thoroughly (I have other sources that need attention) but I will still be pulling details of how Portal is Marcusian. If I do end up using a lot of the details, I’ll be sure to streamline them while still keeping their meaning and relation to Marcuse.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Your list of sources is very good, although I'd also push you to look harder for utopian science fiction. While utopias were more common earlier in the century (or even back in the 19th century), they still exist today.

I'd argue that many of Octavia Butler's novels, for instance, contain some utopian vs. dystopian tension. Her trilogy sold together as Lilith's Brood, for instance, I would argue is ultimately utopian even if it *seems* dystopian, and that similarly her *Parable* novels contain the seeds of a utopia amidst the dystopia they relentlessly depict.

Which isn't to say that you're wrong, exactly - especially if video games are your focus. My point is simply that utopian material does exist, in spite of the obvious problem that dystopias are technically easier to write because fiction normally needs conflict, and it's hard to come up with good conflicts if you take the idea of a utopia seriously.

My suggestion? Focus in on the problem of why utopias are less popular (or even absent) next to dystopias, but narrow it down to mass entertainment or even (better?) strictly to video games. That seems like a more practical focus for a short essay.

You've put plenty of thought in to this proposal and you have good sources, but to do this topic fully would take a book - narrowing it somewhat, possibly to video games (which doesn't mean that viewing Star Trek as an example utopia is irrelevant or a bad idea - it isn't!) would make it much more attainable.