They’re, their, there. Literally. Affect. Effect. Your, you’re. Dystopia. Apocalypse. There are just some words we for one reason or another get confused. Let’s take a look at Dystopia and Apocalypse.
Ages ago an Englishman by the name of Thomas More (Sometimes he would add “Sir” in front to impress the ladies), wrote a book entitled “Utopia.” Utopia, without going into the deeper, philosophical meanings, is an island with a society that would make other places jealous. More is told about Utopia from a chap named Hythloday. Hythloday explains to More Utopia is place of great productivity, all religions are tolerated with none being the “correct” religion, there’s no crime and no war, and everyone in Utopia looks out for their fellow Utopian. Sounds like a hippy commune a few hundred years before there were hippies.
A lot of years, give or take a month or two, philosopher Jeremy Bentham came along and put a wet blanket over More’s idealistic little island. Bentham, a pretty deep philosopher himself, said if there was a Utopia there had to be a Dystopia. Dystopia was basically the complete opposite of Utopia. Flash forward a couple hundred of years and the bookshelves are crammed full of Dystopian novels.
The hallmarks of a Dystopian society is a restriction of citizens’ freedoms, individual thought is restricted, creative expression is forbidden. The people are under constant surveillance. If you live in one of these places your entire being is dedicated to serving whoever is in charge, but you’re being convinced it’s all for the greater good. Dystopian societies are dark places with an evil just below the surface. Basically, if your address is in one of these places you should move. Or at least try.
Perhaps the most famous Dystopian novel is 1984. George Orwell wrote about a society under constant surveillance by Big Brother. Work and Servitude is the only thing worth doing. Today there are literally a ton (Actually, if you took them all and placed them on a giant scale there may be more than a ton) of young adult Dystopian novels. Good or bad they all share the same thing- a totalitarian state controlling everything.
Somewhere around the birth of the A-bomb novels about nuclear apocalypse started hitting the bookshelves. Alas, Babylon, The Last Ship, On the Beach, and The Road are just a few classic examples of the nuclear apocalypse ending life as we know it. Nuclear war isn’t the only thing that has brought upon the Apocalypse. Writers have ended things with viruses, out of control weather, and all manner of things from space.
The societies in most Dystopian novels were born from some sort of cataclysmic event. Maybe even apocalyptic, but some semblance of society survived or rose from the ashes. You won’t find these societies in your typical apocalyptic novel. You will find band of survivors and communities, but a whole society is uncommon. In A Boy and His Dog, Vic, the main character, walks a wasteland coming across other people and camps. Eventually, Vic meets a whole community of weirdos living underground. It’s a society of sorts, but far from Dystopia.
Think of this way. In Dystopia there is a resemblance of a society, a repressed civilization. In the Apocalypse, there isn’t too much going on, but surviving on a day to day basis. Look at Rick and the gang from the Walking Dead. Those folks aren’t working for Big Brother, they’re working on just staying alive today.
Loot Crate’s June box gets the two terms confused. It’s easy to do. At least Loot Crate added some really cool items in the box.
In the Fallout video games, for those of you who don’t know, players control a character who opens the door on his (or hers) Vault and wanders the Wasteland. Over the course of the game, players run into all sorts of characters ranging from traders, militia soldiers, to super mutants and scientists. Players discover burned out towns where people cling onto life and destroyed cities where you have to fight to get out alive. There are places that seem to have it going on, but to call them anything more than towns run by hooligans would be stretching things.
One of the items a player can use in Fallout is the Power Armor. It’s nice to have because it keeps you alive in game a little longer. The Dorbz included in this month’s box is one of the best Dorbz I’ve seen. Granted, I’m not a big fan of Dorbz. They’re small and they smile. Who can take a smiling Loki seriously? The Power Armor Dorbz isn’t smiling and has no squinty eyes because it’s a helmet. I like this Dorbz because of the detail in the armor and helmet. Most Dorbz lack detail or even parts extending from the figure. It’s a nice break from the run-of-the-mill.
If you haven’t seen the Matrix..wait…is there someone out there who hasn’t seen one of the best movies of all time? In case there is someone out there who hasn’t see the movie it breaks down like this…One day computers came to life, humans put up a fight and even used nuclear weapons on the pesky things. The world burned and the computers enslaved humanity. On top of things, they made it seem like we were still living our normal lives. The Matrix isn’t Dystopian, it’s the Apocalypse.
I’ve never seen a puzzle in any of these pop culture subscription boxes. Odd, cool little item like a puzzle is what set Loot Crate apart from the rest of the subscription services. I haven’t put the puzzle together yet. It’s only 300 pieces so it shouldn’t take long. Based on the picture on the side of the boxes it looks like nice art depicting Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus walking through the “Real World.” I’d recommend, and it’s what I plan on doing, buying some board and puzzle glue to keep the finished puzzle together. Art this nice, even a puzzle, deserves a frame.
The world set in the Terminator franchise isn’t Dystopian either. Like the Matrix, computers, machines have become sentient thanks to Skynet. When Skynet comes online it nukes the world to rubble. There have been five movies, the most recent being Terminator: Genisys, and one television series all with the plot of stopping Judgement Day.
Loot Crate still gave us some Terminator goodness in the form of tin art. It’s a small tin with a terminator skull from T2: Judgement Day. The raised skull stands out on the black background rather nice. The red eyes pop. Fans who really know their Terminator movies can tell you the difference in designs between the T-800s. I can’t, but I can tell you this tin would make a nice addition to any collection.
(Side Note: Terminator: Genisys is just as good as the other movies in the franchise. If the brainiac in charge of producing the trailer not included the plot twist it would have been a hit.)
Bioshock is another questionable addition to the Dystopian box. From everything we can gather, the world is a normal place. It’s the antagonist, Zachary Hale Comstock, who has created a Dystopian society in Columbia- a floating city in the sky. Racism, white exceptionalism, and racial segregation are the norms of society. There are the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots, the Vox Populi, fight a guerrilla war against Columbia’s elite. Columbia is a Dystopian society on par with the best (worst?) in any novel.
Loot Crate has included a blank key in this month’s box. In the game players can find two games and the chests the keys unlock. Inside the chests are power ups for the main character, Booker Dewitt. The key in this month’s box can open anything you want it to if it fits the lock. Like the Matrix puzzle, the key is a weird item to put in a box, but it’s fitting. Fans of the game will get a kick out of it.
I love RoboCop, both versions. However, Detroit in the movie isn’t a Dystopia and it’s not the Apocalypse. Out of control crime and high unemployment rates don’t make a place Dystopian, it doesn’t make it post or pre-apocalyptic. It makes a place horrible to live in. That’s why Omni created RoboCop from Alex Murphy’s destroyed body.
The t-shirt (Yeah! It’s not black) pays homage to RoboCop cleaning the city’s streets of creeps. The movie’s high body count and explosions are represented rather well. The dark blues stand out against the powder gray shirt. Your eyes are naturally drawn to the red circle in the background. I would have been happy if this was poster, but this is art you can wear.
Loot Crate may not know the difference between Dystopia and the Apocalypse, but they know how to curate a great box of stuff. You will be hard pressed to find a June box with this amount of quality items.