Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, opines on the current young adult dystopian fad and how pessimistic it is compared to real life even with its shortcomings.
I’m talking about Optimism.
If I’m to believe young adult books and movies, the world is doomed. There is no planning for the future because there is no future. The previous generations screwed things so badly that the Milleniums are left dealing with the dregs. Is there anything entertaining or uplifting in these works?
I never heard the word “dystopian” until it became en vogue. It’s the opposite of utopia, which was a dream of my generation, the Baby Boomers. World War II was over and our parents, who grew up in the Depression era, worked hard to give us a better life. As a result, we grew up with optimism and hope for an infinitely better society in the future.
Feeding that optimism was John F. Kennedy. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Young adults joined his Peace Corps. We were going to make a difference. We might have succeeded had Kennedy not been assassinated. All too quickly followed by Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Vietnam. Our faith in the previous generation was diminished.
Oddly enough, our response was not to give up on society. Out of it came the hippies. Love ’em or hate ’em, they believed they had the answers: peace, love, communes, free love and drugs. Stuffing flowers down gun barrels of the National Guardsmen. Hopelessly optimistic about a future for little Rainbow and Phoenix. (Note: I was not a hippie. I joined the military as a “hawk” and left as a “dove.” Go figure.)
There were dystopian novels out there: Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, On the Beach. But these were about adults dealing with the aftermath of the destruction, not teens. And they were spawned by the realities around us. My generation was taught to duck and cover in the event of an atom bomb. People built bomb shelters in their backyards. My military family was sent to Midway Island where my dad “flew the barrier” to protect America from Soviet invasion. Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? I was eleven. We were sent home from school and fathers had to brief the family. Rumor was, our base was the #3 target. We held our breath and waited for Kennedy’s next move. That was real, not some Hunger Game scenario. We lived it and survived. There was no need to create fictionalized chaos.
My message to the gloom and doomers of today is this: get over yourselves. You can wallow in disgust of the world you perceive or you can work to change it. Stop and smile once in awhile. Save all your black clothes for funerals. You are never going to be young again and there’s plenty of real sadness ahead. Don’t celebrate it early. And don’t infect the next generation with your poisoned outlook. They’ve already got enough on their plate.