As I sit here, at 0400HRS, listening to Vangelis’ Blade Runner score, with only the light of my PC screen to display what I am writing, I realise that a dystopia has arrived.
It wasn’t in some far away future of 2049, distant on some screen directed by a film-maker … it was present and I, unwittingly and subconsciously, willed it into existence.
WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
Let us wage war against the pandemic. Let us confine ourselves to be free. Let us believe what we are told.
How did this happen? Why did I allow it happen?
What happened to my anarchist spirit?
Why did I not pick this up sooner?
But that is the thing about dystopias … they have a way of not being real. They can’t happen in reality … humanity has too much goodness in it. Someone would stop it … a hero like William Shatner’s James T. Kirk would make a impassioned speech about how wrong the way of the world was going.
That speech would inspire others.
Change would occur for the better.
The world could continue on its axis, spinning in its’ way into a brighter future.
But what if that hero was twisted with fear. Scared for his life. Afraid of the air itself … Everything he touched and saw was now infected.
Where will this speech come from now? The Hero is choking, coughing and muzzling himself with the crook of his arm. He can no longer serve the people any more. He’s a sickness, a virus, a disease … a plague.
Who will inspire us to be better? To be more free than we were before?
This is the 6th Lockdown that my beautiful home-town of Melbourne is undergoing.
There are empty promises of it ending soon.
Reassurances that the government has our best interest at heart.
People encourage each other to obey, be strong, and suffer together.
Staying Apart Keeps Us Together.
Catchy isn’t it?
But so is Strength Through Unity, Unity Through Faith.
I need not recount the plot of V for Vendetta (2005) for you all to understand the allegory I am making between film and reality. Naturally it is all eerily similar, but then so is the plot for a lot of stories. Nothing is original these days …
What is fascinating to me though, is the sudden realisation I had about the dystopian world I am currently living in and the immediate comparison I’ve made to this film, with the St. Mary’s Virus paving the way for the dystopian society created in Britain.
From curfews, to harsh edicts and penalties, the dystopian elements of my own reality consumed me so much, that I am here now, writing it all out, despite the lateness of the hour.
The idea of a “COVID-Normal” is such a bizarre concept to me. Further lockdowns can be triggered at a moment’s notice … further tracking and surveillance of your movements is now actively encouraged and mandatory. Only being able to leave your house for 5 approved reasons. You are now confined to a 5km/h radius of your home.
What part of that, does not sound like a dystopia?
When did we, the iconic stubborn, free-loving people of Australia, suddenly agree to submit to whatever the government says?
Fear of one another turned all of us into meek sheep or perhaps our infamously laid-back attitude offered an opportunity ripe for zealous policing.
You could no longer trust the people that brushed past you at a crowded party. Ordinary surfaces like the PB/5 tactile button for crosswalks were now tainted with something. Alcohol was now consumed in larger quantities than ever before, to clean hands, tables, hand-rails … anything that transmitted the disease was now scrubbed vigorously.
You can’t even breathe within 1.5m of another person, without a mask on your face.
The media did what it did best in today’s society …. stoke terror further in everyone’s heart.
Numbers are suddenly determination for your mood for the day. You read about how bad other countries or states have it and silently thank everyone else in your home for cooperating. Then minutes later, your heart sinks as you look on enviously at other countries that have opened up again, their carefree attitudes mocking your own stressed state.
Much like Trump’s presidency, the media is fixated on this crisis, unwilling to report on anything else, holding a perpetual gun to everyone’s head to hear their despairing news, because they need to make revenue through fear.
Isn’t it amazing how where once we only used to hear from our illustrious leaders when it was important, we now have daily “reassurances” from politicians who claim to have our best interest at heart.
We all want to tune in to the state news and hear what is their plan, what is their road-map to keeping us safe from each other.
Staying Apart Keeps Us Together.
Repeat that, until you believe in its’ strange juxtaposition.
Repeat that, until you accept the new “normal”, where we are all now monitored.
Repeat that, until you hear the cries of protests, as unlawful and unpatriotic.
Repeat that, until you forget what freedoms you had, because you’ve known no other reality for 2 years.
Repeat that, until you know that the jail you’ve populated with junk is now your home and you are confined to it.
Repeat that, until you walk outside, and are seemingly grateful for the 2 hours of exercise you’ve been granted.
Staying Apart Keeps Us Together.
There is no denying in history that police states have arisen thanks to terrifying crises. To name a few ….
Russia (1921) – Famine // United Kingdom (1939) – WWII Blackout // Germany (1930) – Nazi Party // South Africa (1948) – Apartheid // Egypt (2013) – Economic Crisis // Australia (1964) – Vietnam National Service Scheme
Yet despite these warning signs in history, we are all too easily swayed into accepting draconian measures for our safety. Often it is too late when we realise something is wrong, because naturally our fear has been stoked to such a degree that it takes a while to calm ourselves down.
Yet, here I am, sleepless, restless, anxious and paranoid. It isn’t the pandemic that I fear any more, it’s the dystopian world that I have seemingly allowed to manifest itself from film into reality.
The numbers have lost all meaning to me. The cases will always be around, regardless of vaccination. That is just the nature of the virus, just like how you can be vaccinated against the flu and still get the flu.
The endless debates on the pandemic is not of any particular concern to me. Humanity as a whole is far too resilient to be taken down by this one.
The real horror lies in how humanity has turned against itself.
Corporations turning the pandemic to their advantage and making huge profits at the cost of people’s health.
Work at home says the company man, to the initial joy of the drones. The drones content with the idea of operating at home at later hours and in the comfort of their home, suddenly find themselves unable to switch off, because now the work is home.
Their work-life balance is horrible, their health slowly decay at home and what was once a sanctuary is now another soulless room with 4 walls. All identity has sucked away by endless zoom calls and procrastination.
You’ll be subsidised by the government says the manager to the retail staff. The retail worker heads home, happy to take a break. Serving customers all day is a pain in the arse and they can take a holiday of sorts. But when they apply for pandemic aid, they realise that they’re missing 500 dollars that they normally need to make ends meet.
Suddenly they crave going back to work. Home isn’t as exciting. The food is blander than their normal lunches, the lack of social interaction is driving them mad. The 8 hours in a shift, bored at work, is now even more boring at home. Self-destruction awaits.
I’ll take you, but I have to let the rest of you go.says the chef to his casual staff. The once tight-knit group of workers, bonding over the universal suffering of hospitality are now split asunder by the favouritism. Why does that girl get the shift? asks a disgruntled waiter as he heads home, where he throws his towel in the wash.
How the hell am I going to pay rent? wonders a sous-chef as the restaurant that he bled, toiled and slaved away in for years shut down, due to a lack of customers. I can’t enjoy a drink there anymore? queries a long time patron as she stares inside the desolate window of her favourite wine bar, the LEASE sign mocking her nostalgic sadness.
Everywhere, the pandemic and by extension, the government has slowly laid waste to the creative and fun industries.
You can no longer attend events, eat at a fancy restaurant, appreciate the coffee of your favourite barista, pop in to see a movie or even engage in a fun activity with your friends.
We’ve turned against each other now … all the things that used to bind us together, maintain relationships and foster trust in a community has been stripped away from us.
Hugs …. Handshakes … Fist Bumps … Kisses ….
Illegal. Disapproved. Illicit. Disgusting even.
Welcome to the dystopia of 2021, where humanity has sacrificed emotional bonds for complete subjugation.
Enjoy your new prison, continue to make the economy strong with useless purchases that will never satiate you.
Enjoy your new restrictions, continue to exercise with caution and fear, please maintain a safe distance between you and everyone else.
Enjoy your new normal, please check in everywhere so we can track your movements. Failure to do so will result in heavy fines.
Enjoy your new interactions, if you miss your friends, do not visit them in person, just call them via a screen.
Enjoy your new reality. We are a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.
This is London ≠ This is Melbourne.
Allow me first to apologize for this interruption.
I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquillity of repetition.
I enjoy them as much as any bloke.
But in the spirit of commemoration, whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.
There are of course those who do not want us to speak.
I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way.
Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.
Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.
And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?
Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression.
And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.
How did this happen?
Who’s to blame?
Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable.
But again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
I know why you did it.
I know you were afraid.
Who wouldn’t be?
War, terror, disease.
There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.
Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the
now high chancellor, Adam Sutler premier.
He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
(Alan Moore – V for Vendetta (1982) )
Staying Apart Keeps Us Together.
Staying Apart is the Best Way to Stay United.
Stay Home, Save Lives.
Obey the Rules and Stay Home.
OUR UTOPIA IS ONLY THREATENED BY YOU.