Zombie Utopia: Conceptualizing Utopia in Contemporary Pop Culture

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:40
Location: Seminar 34 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Tyler PECKIO, City University of New York, Graduate Center, USA
While dystopian themes in pop culture are far from a recent phenomenon, the recent surge in popularity in a variety of mediums- books, movies, television etc.- belies a particular tendency towards a particular form of utopian thought. I would like to put forward the argument that the popularity of the settings presented in these mediums, be it Hunger Games,Walking Dead, or the Leftovers, make the case for a type of utopia that is only realizable at the point of absolute societal collapse. The ability to make the case for an affirmative notion of utopia, one that is realizable in the latent potentialites of present political reality, is exchanged for a concept of utopia that can only be realized when society has seemingly fallen back into a dark age. This style of utopia, I would like to argue, represents what Engels criticized Owenism of engaging in- one that is not reflective of actual political reality, but a utopia that is reflective of ones internal desires. It is reflective of a lack of desire to engage in political reality and to instead hit the erase button and start anew. Through an analysis of modern manifestations of dystopia in popular culture I will attempt to explore the expressions of what is ultimately an alienated formulation of utopia.