Friday, May 10, 2013

My thanks!

Just wanted to take a moment amidst the craziness of end-of-term grading to congratulate my students on a wonderful semester. Thanks for all of your thought-provoking discussions and for your willingness to try out some new things in this class. I have enjoyed learning and laughing with you all and I wish you the best!

What's next for Utopia?

On the final day of our class, students were asked to propose the next "big" utopian text. One group proposed an interactive video game; the second suggested a blockbuster film; the third a trilogy of YA novels. Here are the pitch letters they drafted. Enjoy!


Dear EA,
Imagine having the ability to completely control your world and potentially even those in it. We want to introduce your company to the idea of the future, or maybe even the past. Our new video game concept allows the player to have complete control over his or her world.

In the first phase of the game, the character will create their own world or scenario. They will create their own country- first choosing a time setting, medieval, modern or a futuristic space age. They will be able to decide on key resources, land masses and the basic lay out of their main city.

In the second phase of the game, the user will create a character persona to interact with their world. They will then enter their city as a ‘guardian’ figure. Thereafter, the character will follow a lose plot involving inner and outer influences. They will fight to protect their nation from invaders, become an integral force for creating laws and deal with many of the day to day problems and crimes of their nation.

The users will be presented with a wide array of choices in every situation. Their actions, selfless, selfish or somewhere in between will materially alter their world as time goes on. They will be directly responsible for the success or failure of their civilization. The happiness of their people will be under their control, but also the city. If they do not work to keep the city safe and profitable, it will decline, crime will increase and the city will appear shabby. If the character becomes overly tyrannical, there will be rebellions and radicals to deal with. If their city is too wealthy and well kept, the character will have to battle outside forces that are attempting to capitalize on the situation.

In short, the new video game, Parable, will allow users to create and protect a utopia, or to take advantage of a dystopia for their own gain.


Dear Mrs. MB Producer,

We would like to approach you concerning a proposal for a new movie. The tentative title is iPocalypse. The main theme of the movie satirizes consumerism.
The government started investing in various projects and eventually fell way under debt. They turned to Apple for bailout money, and soon after, Apple took over many aspects of the government, due to their control of the market.
This movie will take place in a futuristic world that is highly reminiscent of todays world. The culture is similar to todays society, except Apple is now in control. People have lost personal freedom for personal protection from the East Asians, who have lost billions of dollars in assets from debt owed by the USA. One of the many methods ofkeeping the safety of the citizens of the United Statesis the so-called iChip, which is implanted in the skull.
Because consumerism is rampant throughout all ages, from children to the old, the target demographic will appeal to the majority of people within capitalist society.
This project follows the protagonist George Huxley, who is hunted by the United States for not purchasing an iChip. Heres the twist: when fleeing from the Apple-funded military, he flees on a jail broken iBoat. When he lands in East Asia, he finds that it is run by Utopian Google, who has bailed out East Asias toxic assets from the USA. This is a sad, deep ending, because this shows that all of humanity is inherently consumerist. As George is taken back to the USA, he wonders if Utopian Google will turn out the same way as Apple.
The subtitle of the movie, "An Apple a day keeps the doctor away, can show us the evils of consumerism. This line is repeated by the evil presidential CEO as he sends the military iBoats after George. The purpose of the film is to show how consumerism is bad for society.


Ms. Stephanie Meyer:

After the success of Twilight and the Host, we believe that your writing style is ideal for the newest book series that we have created in order to educate young adults about the dystopian world as well as create a mainstream media production that can show the importance of equality. We believe a young adult novel three-part series will be the ideal format of this, and with your success we will be able to produce movies in the future. With this, we present to you the pitch for what we hope will be your next novel series for young women between 18-35: Riley2322.

In a dark but sterile future, Riley2322 lives her life in a suburbia outside of Chicago. Within this series, the children are named with the first two digits based on their year of birth, and the last two digits are based on their time of birth (females are always given an even number, men are odd numbers). They have parental partners and live in simple housing, always staying within the cities. Outside, within the wild forests, are the evil monsters that are keeping them in fear: Genetically Enhanced Vampires. Cameras always watch them, and if they near the forest, tiny robotic spiders climb out of the lampposts and attack and kill the people, in order to "protect" the city so that the Vampires can't find them.

Riley2322 is 17, and at the age of 18, she will be paired with a breeding partner and sent to Chicago to work. Since she is intelligent, she is expected to be paired with an unintelligent man in order to produce "average" offspring. Sam2359 is her best friend and has become extremely dissatisfied with his life. He believes that their lives within the city are too controlled and that there are no Vampires out in the forest. Riley2322 doesn't know what to think, until one day she sees someone out in the forest and runs out to try to help her. When Sam2359 arrives, the spiders are already after Riley2322. He throws himself into the spiders and dies, leaving Riley2322 to take up the torch and discover the secrets behind this city. The first thing she must do is find out who the mysterious woman within the city is, and why is Riley2322 so attracted to her?


  • Riley2322 – Protagonist. 17. Intelligent, beautiful, athletic, capable.
  • Sam2359 – Best friend. 17. Intelligent, rebellious, handsome, tragic.
  • Veronica - The woman from the forest. Vampire. Beautiful and tormented by her past, all she wants is what the Vampires want: Freedom and equality. She falls deeply in love with Riley2322, but the two of them can't be together because of their differences. And who would understand the love of two women in a world that focuses on breeding?
  • Lindon1016 – Villain for first novel. She starts out as Riley2322 and Sam2359's mentor, but she turns them in, betraying them to the government. At the end of the first novel, Riley2322 is sent to Chicago in order to allow the second novel to take place in Chicago.

We hope that you will consider this series, and please don't hesitate to contact us in the future.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My Original Utopia Revisited

"Now," the Devil said, reaching out for MJ's hand. "Let's think about that Utopia again. The one we talked about before. The one where you're the ruler of everything."

MJ shut her eyes and concentrated. The smell of Brimstone was fairly distracting, but not so much that MJ couldn't still see that world, the one she was so invested in before. She chewed on her bottom lip.

"Concentrate, MJ," the Devil said. He had a weird, raspy voice, so MJ imagined he was probably in his normal-face rather than the personas he'd been taking on all semester.

"I am concentrating," MJ said.

"We can make this happen if you really think about it. If you really focus."

MJ focused. But at the same time---would she really want this world, now? The more she thought about it, the less she really liked the idea of running a world. How would she be any better than Big Brother? Or Mustapha Mond? Or Sean Bean in the Island (which is a significantly different Sean Bean to the one in Game of Thrones who was way cool but wasn't on the show enough.)?

Would MJ really be able to run a good, solid utopia? Something worthy of Utopia-ness? Something that didn't turn quickly into a dystopia? Or a non-functioning utopia, like Rapture in BioShock?

"You know," MJ said, pulling her hands away from the Devil. "Maybe this isn't such a good idea. I've got some great leadership skills and I really like people, but I don't think I'd be the best ruler. We should stop this. Let's just let things be like they are."

The Devil didn't speak, but MJ had the feeling that the ceremony was over. Or something. Always hard to tell with the Devil. He did things very differently from everyone else.

"Don't open your eyes," the Devil instructed her. "If you look at me, you will die."

MJ sighed. "Yeah, okay, you got that line from Doctor Who. Loser."

This Is Why I Should Never Talk About Religion Ever

On Wednesday, MJ was spending an afternoon having lunch with the new Pope. He was significantly nicer than the old Pope, but just as unwilling to listen to MJ's concerns about the church's influence. She also thought it particularly odd that he didn't want the Devil or her personal Angel at this lunch. This was significantly better than MJ's experience with the last Pope, of course, who greeted the Devil (then appearing as Anakin Skywalker) like an old friend.

"So explain to me again what your concerns are," the Pope said.

"It was something I said in class," MJ replied. "We were discussing controlling the masses with utopia."

"All right," the Pope said. His ice cream arrived. Rocky Road. MJ found this worrisome, but she was happy to see her cookie arrived. Ice cream was gross.

"Isn't that exactly what you lot do?" MJ asked.

"I beg your pardon?" the Pope asked.

"Control the masses with utopia," MJ replied. "Or, at least, the promise of Utopia."

"I don't understand."

MJ sighed. "Heaven. It's basically a utopia, isn't it? I mean, it's where everything is great and wonderful and you get to have head-explody."

The Pope looked at MJ with a confused expression on his face.

"Sorry, that was a comic book reference."

"Please continue," the Pope said.

"Okay," MJ replied. "So, basically, you do good works, you get into Utopia. That's what we were talking about. Isn't that heaven? You do good works on Earth, you get into heaven. That's the whole basis of your religion."

"I think there's a good deal more to our religion than you understand, my child," the Pope said.

"Is there?" MJ inquired, taking a bite of her cookie. "I mean, really?"

Love and 1984

"So, tell me why you love 1984."

MJ wasn't entirely certain where the psychiatrist's chair had come from, or why the Devil had chosen to appear as Tony Stark this time around, but she wasn't one to shy away from discussing her favorite novel.

"It's one of the most tragic love stories of all time," MJ said. "Winston and Julia, torn apart because they literally can't be together in the world where they live."

"Interesting," Tony Stark said. MJ didn't like his tone. It was the tone the Devil used whenever he was getting ready to manipulate her. She hated that. Primarily, because the Devil was so damn good at it.

"I agree with MJ," her personal angel, who had taken the form of Steve Rogers, said. "It's a terribly raw, but realistic interpretation of love."

"As if an angel would know anything about love," Tony said.

"Better than you," Steve replied.

MJ had a feeling that the two of them were having some sort of a row that involved romance. She didn't approve. First of all, this was supposed to be about her, and before she knew it, tumblr would be just gifting the two of them.

"What makes you think it isn't love?" MJ interjected.

Tony coughed, and put on a pair of bright red reading glasses. He read from MJ's worn copy of the book.

"You notice, when O'Brien is talking to Winston and Julia about what they will go through in order to become part of the Brotherhood, Julia forcibly interjects, much like yourself in this situation?" Tony said. "Why didn't Winston feel as passionately? Why did she have to make certain that he loved her best?"

MJ's eyebrows knitted together. "Winston doesn't love her like she loves him," she said. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's a fundamental flaw in love."

"She's right, you know," Steve said. If MJ didn't know better, she'd think he was trying to be sassy. It was annoying.

"I'm certain she is," Tony replied. "But how can you love this book as some sort of quintessential love story, if the love story isn't perfect?"

"What about life is perfect?" MJ replied. "That's what makes the book phenomenal. The imperfections make it real."

Herland: The Motion Picture Event of the Summer!

"Places everyone."

It was Tuesday, and MJ was set to start the filming of the newest big-budget science fiction movie, "Unveiling a Parallel". The internet was going absolutely nuts about it, excited for the graphics, the actors, and the like. 4chan had decided that it would be much better if MJ had spent her time making the internet sandwiches, but MJ rarely listened to 4chan anyway.

"I think your Elodia has a question," MJ's personal angel, who was still in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch, said.

MJ waved over the lead actress, Lucy Liu. Lucy had been chosen for her acting capabilities and the fact that she was lovely and exotic even without makeup (though this had been a problem, and MJ suspected it would be a problem again).

Lucy stepped forward sheepishly. The fact that MJ's personal angel looked like Benedict Cumberbatch made Lucy uncomfortable in ways she was contractually obligated not to talk about.

"If this is about the false eyelashes, Lucy, I'm telling you. Elodia would not wear them," MJ said. Also, MJ thought Lucy's fake eyelashes were hideous, but that was for another post.

"No," Lucy said. "It's about the marketing for the film. It's been bothering me and I wanted to talk to you about it."

"All right, but we are on a schedule," MJ said in her most Big Budget Movie Director voice.

Lucy took a breath. "Are we really a utopia?" she asked.

MJ was taken aback. "What? Of course we are." A pause. "Well, I mean, you are." Another pause. "In the context of the movie."

Lucy nodded emphatically. "But---from what you said. About a utopia. The fact that we would need a plan, and a place and---"

MJ hadn't considered this, not really. But she supposed that this story had less of a structure than most of the other utopias that she had studied.

"I mean, I think Star Trek has more of a basis in utopia," Lucy added. She looked at Benedict Cumberbatch and her face went a bit red. "Sorry."

"It's all right. It's an odd numbered movie," Benedict said. "In a few years everyone will be pretending it never existed."

"Let's stick to the subject, shall we?" MJ said, letting out a sigh.

"Lucy's right, you know," Russell Crowe added, awkwardly appearing on the scene. He was to be playing Van, even though MJ had originally insisted that he was too old for the part. Still, when the studio dropped that amount of money in her bank account, she wasn't about to say no. However, MJ couldn't work out if he was awkward because of the topic, or because the Devil had taken the part of Philip Quast.

"Oh, here we go," Philip Quast said. "Go on, Javert. Tell us about it."

"There's no real plan for a utopia here," Russell said. "We were talking about it. Don't utopias require a plan? A way to make the utopia a reality?"

"Don't we just remove all women?" Benedict Cumberbatch said. "Isn't that a plan?"

"I don't know," MJ said. "I always thought utopias required far more planning than that. I'll bring it up with marketing. Back into places, everyone!"

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Big Number Five for George

Alright, Sunday night, of course I planned on cranking out a few more blog posts before the weekend . . . I never could have guessed that I would put that off.

I want to give a lil shout out to Iris-I feel a kind of bad pushin your blog post back so it's not the final thing people remember from this class blog, it seemed like it was pretty heartfelt.

On top of that it would be pretty embarassing if this post didn't count towards my total word count. Actually, maybe it wouldn't really be that embarassing, it would just kind of suck. Oh well, I'm going to comment on Brave New World and 1984.

Brave New World was just hilarious and about as much commentary as there needs to be on Utopia in my opinion. Thinking that we can "design" a perfect world is just outrageous. The whole of Aldous Huxley's book was just completely making fun of their bokanovskified world. It just reminds me so much of the US these days, I can't really speak for the rest of the world. We think we are making so much progress and then I read this grade A stuff from Huxley and I definitely cracked up out loud quite a few times. He was pretty much spot on. The reservation seemed like the way people around here think of tribes or something. We just go visit to get a little taste of what their world is like, but after a week we just can't stand it any longer, so we hop back on a plane and fly back.

I didn't really like the Soma aspect of Brave New World, just because I can't really think of how exactly it relates to our world today. I guess you could argue that it is kind of like people just thinking it is their birthright to take anti-depressants for all of their terrible stress, anxiety, and depression caused by our daily lives. Then again, I guess even Frederick is pretty stressful. I just hate being around giant groups of people, definitely stresses me out. Or maybe Soma relates more to people drinking alcohol to try and "ease the pain." Going out to bars on weekends does seem like it is the highlight of a good amount of people's lives, so I guess this could be a modern day representation of Soma.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of modern day Soma is weed. You know, everyone just "chillin' out" with their "magic herb". The thing is, as "cool" as it is for a chill ass teacher to be a big pothead, I really just don't think an overwhelming amount of people smoke weed. Most people probably realize that it stopped being the hip thing to do after about the age of 14. I do wish weed would get legalized though, just so people wouldn't think it's cool anymore and maybe even less people would smoke.

Making my way back to the actual book, the ending ruled. When John just went out to live on his own in solitude I was like, "hell yeah, that's exactly how I've been wanting to live lately." Just growing your own food and not really having to worry about much else. But of course that didn't last long, everyone just couldn't leave the man on his own so he just had to get out of there the only way he knew how, by killing himself.

1984 was too corny for me, man. George Orwell just took his fake, unbelievable world way too seriously. The things that made me cringe the most were "The Book" and Winston's whole ordeal with O'Brien at the end of the book when O'Brien was trying to convince him that the though police control all memories or that the things he "knows" are wrong. In The Book it just seemed like Orwell was trying to make some profound insight into human nature and the way different countries interact, it all just seemed pretty lame to me. To be fair though, maybe he was making more of a worthy point that I didn't really catch; I will admit, I wasn't paying all that much attention during that part.

So then we had O'brien's whole controlling history speal...alright this book was miserable I'm just going to stop writing about it.

For my closing thoughts I'd like to offer an overall outline to my utopia:

-No guns, bombs, or any stuff like that. This stuff is all just terrible, we're pretty much screwed because it has already been invented and there's not much we can do now besides restrict them with laws enforced by people with more guns.

-No cars. Of course.

-As few laws as possible.

-Tons of awesome dirt running trails that last for hundreds of miles.

I thought this blog was a pretty sweet idea. Even though I didn't take advantage of it as much as I should, writing out your thoughts is a lot easier than trying to concisely express what you want to say in class.