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Spy_on_the_Inside
06-08-2012, 08:33 AM
Some friends and I were recently having a discussion on dystopians in YA and what can make a story successful. We agreed that a true dystopian needs to have some basis of being a cautionary tale, not just being a deus ex machina sort of oppressive government with no real purpose or explaination.

But we also agreed it needs to go beyond that. The political or social issue reflected in the story needs to be something teenagers can relate to and find relavent (not just any random issue an author can think of).

What we came up blank on were what these potential issues could be. Can anyone think of any political or social issues facing teenagers today that could be shaped into a story?

shaldna
06-08-2012, 09:48 AM
What we came up blank on were what these potential issues could be. Can anyone think of any political or social issues facing teenagers today that could be shaped into a story?

Well, aside from rising unemployment and a large number of families living below the poverty line, bad schools, bad prosepcts, fuel poverty etc. You have other issues such as the green economy - how far are naturual resources really going to last.

And then some tool wants to bring back National Service to get young folk off the streets apparently - but in reality it's a way of boosting the number of armed forces cheaply in a time of war.

Many countries still have National Service - France and Sweden for example - but there's been something of a kickback about it here because a lot of folks feel that NS means forcing them into a conflict that they don't believe in - if they are anti-war etc.

That said, there are, as far as I'm aware, the option of completing non-military national service, but I would need to look at it again.

Lhipenwhe
06-08-2012, 03:32 PM
There's the conflict that parents and children have over the differences between their generations. They can be old-time conservatism and liberalism, sexuality, and a religious upbringing vs. secularism. Parent/child conflicts are an old trope in mythology and current culture, and the ideas I mentioned above aren't original.

Hope this was helpful

Spy_on_the_Inside
06-08-2012, 09:50 PM
I've been doing some research on themes during waves of dystopians. It said we're in a third wave of dystopians, which focus greatly on terrorism, war, and vapid pop culture. But I'm not sure those principles are as relevant to politics as they once were.

Lately, the news seems to center around economy and class warfare and the political divide. What I wonder is could these principles make for a good YA dystopian and how. A story based on economics seems a little shaky for the YA audience. What else could be used?

Lhipenwhe
06-09-2012, 02:52 AM
Lately, the news seems to center around economy and class warfare and the political divide. What I wonder is could these principles make for a good YA dystopian and how. A story based on economics seems a little shaky for the YA audience. What else could be used?

Don't discount economic issues. For example, in some countries the birth rate is lower than the death rate. That means that unless something changes in the demographics, the young are going to be expected to do either a greater share of the work and/or pay off the debts their parents left them.

YeonAh
06-09-2012, 03:35 AM
Another hot topic now (where I live at least) are student rights and student groups mobilizing in protests. Look up the student riots and protests in Montreal against the tuition hikes, and everything from blocking the Champlain Bridge in rush hour and the casserole concerts all over North America in support of the student movement. Sure it's university students, which might be above your age demographic, but it might give you some ideas.

Sunflowerrei
06-10-2012, 06:57 AM
Rising college tuition costs, at least here in the U.S., where college tuition rises by a certain percent every year, affects young people. Combined with a bad economy, it's harder to pay for college.

mrsvalkyrie
06-10-2012, 07:04 AM
My only thoughts are technology is ruining us. Just my opinion, though. Haha. I mean, some of it is great (computers, for one) but I always wonder if in 50 years it will be like Wall-E where everyone weighs 1,000 pounds and sits their entire lives in a moving chair with a computer screen in front of them. :rant:

Sorry, I know that probably wasn't what you were looking for, but I just had to say it! ;)

shaldna
06-10-2012, 01:35 PM
Rising college tuition costs, at least here in the U.S., where college tuition rises by a certain percent every year, affects young people. Combined with a bad economy, it's harder to pay for college.

university tuition TRIPLED here this year for many students.

heyjude
06-10-2012, 03:41 PM
I work with our youth pastor and one of the biggest concerns in our area is hunger. :( So many people have been out of work for so long...

Sunflowerrei
06-11-2012, 12:34 PM
university tuition TRIPLED here this year for many students.

Yup. Doesn't that want to make you smash something?

mayqueen
06-11-2012, 08:10 PM
I'm not much up on YA dystopia trends, but I have some colleagues who study youth issues. (I'm a sociology PhD candidate.) Granted, this is largely in an urban area, but poverty, gun violence, and deteriorating schools are huge issues in Chicago. The city has essentially stopped repairing serious flaws to buildings at schools they plan to shut down in the next ten years. Schools that don't perform are getting shut down. Students aren't going to school because they are afraid to walk there, given the high levels of gun violence.

fdesrochers
06-11-2012, 09:20 PM
university tuition TRIPLED here this year for many students.

The current crisis in Montreal, Quebec is largely fuelled by the increased tuition costs. The student protests have largely gotten out of hand; the government bill to 'quash' the protests and some of their activities only stoked the controversy. Unfortunately for the students, they seem to have lost their reason and it is rapidly degenerating into a chatoic mess of divergent messages and groups trying to capitalize on the exposure.

They'd likely call me a fascist for saying it, but they've lost any reasonable grounds for their current activities and strategic "focus."

Torgo
06-11-2012, 09:37 PM
This (http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/12/invaders-from-mars.html), to me, draws an excellent parallel between a familiar SF situation and what children today are actually facing.

EDIT: Oh, and there's a follow-up here (http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/11/more-news-from-our-martian-inv.html)in which Charlie links to a Naomi Wolf article about what the Occupy movement wants...

Spy_on_the_Inside
06-12-2012, 03:00 AM
university tuition TRIPLED here this year for many students.

I had a professor who actually had a consperacy theory about why tuition is incresing so much. He said the government doesn't want the young people rising up in revolution, like they did in the 60's,so they began increasing tuition more and more. The also made sure to make it so students would need loans, so they would be massively in debt right out of college, and need to go straight into work.

When you think about it, debt is a potentially good way of controling the people.

mrsvalkyrie
06-12-2012, 03:11 AM
I had a professor who actually had a consperacy theory about why tuition is incresing so much. He said the government doesn't want the young people rising up in revolution, like they did in the 60's,so they began increasing tuition more and more. The also made sure to make it so students would need loans, so they would be massively in debt right out of college, and need to go straight into work.

When you think about it, debt is a potentially good way of controling the people.

That's... creepy. Haha. I wouldn't put it past the government, though. Hey, it sounds like there might be a story idea in there somewhere... Hmm...

Spy_on_the_Inside
06-12-2012, 03:44 AM
Hey, it sounds like there might be a story idea in there somewhere... Hmm...
Well, allow the wisdom of Mike Optiz, professor of literary theory, inspire you! He was always a believer that literature was the best way for wisdom of the previous generation to be passed down. I think he'd love to see his theories in a story.

mrsvalkyrie
06-12-2012, 03:56 AM
Well, allow the wisdom of Mike Optiz, professor of literary theory, inspire you! He was always a believer that literature was the best way for wisdom of the previous generation to be passed down. I think he'd love to see his theories in a story.

Haha, well, I'm all about conspiracies and the like. In fact, I have a book that I've shelved (but intend to go back to after my current WIP) where this conspiracy would fit in just fine. Go figure! Would he happen to still be on this Earth with us humans, if you know...? I would be interested in having a chat with him.

Spy_on_the_Inside
06-12-2012, 08:21 AM
One the topic of politics, though, just how politically aware do you perceive teenagers being today?

mayqueen
06-12-2012, 10:32 PM
It depends on the particular young person. From working with various agencies and observing my friends' research, young people can be very aware of social and political issues, especially those that contribute to their lives most directly.

YeonAh
06-13-2012, 07:36 PM
The current crisis in Montreal, Quebec is largely fuelled by the increased tuition costs. The student protests have largely gotten out of hand; the government bill to 'quash' the protests and some of their activities only stoked the controversy. Unfortunately for the students, they seem to have lost their reason and it is rapidly degenerating into a chatoic mess of divergent messages and groups trying to capitalize on the exposure.

They'd likely call me a fascist for saying it, but they've lost any reasonable grounds for their current activities and strategic "focus."

To expand on this, many of my friends back in Montreal (I go to university in Ontario and narrowly missed being involved) have gone from being supportive of the protests to hating their existence. So even within the student body there are many different opinions. A friend in the Fine Arts faculty in Concordia University reported students routinely blocking the entrances to the classrooms to prevent students who DO want to go to classes from actually attending. Another friend in UQAM (University du Quebec à Montréal) tells me the whole school has been on lockdown from the strikes, and she along with other students who just want to go to classes don't even dare trying to go to school most days, lest they be harassed by student protesters who call them 'traitors'.

I don't know anyone in high school, so I'm not sure how the teenagers are fairing with all this, but I do know some french high schools are in support of the strikes and bear the symbol of the little red square to show it.

Most of this is of course being fueled by 'professional protestors' who join just to cause trouble, and they're usually the ones who start the situations we hear about in the news. Some people say the students are the face of the movement, but older citizens (from what I've noticed mainly french sovereignists, someone please correct me if I'm wrong), influence the protests too. There was recently a protest in the tiny town of Chambly in support of the student protests, and they were ALL from the ages 30+, no actual kids/students there.

Generally it's agreed that the student protests started with a message, but now it's just gotten out of hand, especially with Anonymous helping in messing up tourism for the F1 races in Montréal.


One the topic of politics, though, just how politically aware do you perceive teenagers being today?

From my experience, it's rather half-half. Older teens getting closer to the age of voting can be very interested in politics. It depends on the political parties: In Quebec for the last elections, a lot of political parties ignored the younger voters, thinking they weren't interested. The NDP (lead by Jack Layton) went around to high schools and Cegeps/colleges and spoke with the youth, and answered their questions. What happened at election time? Many of those youth who could vote, voted NDP, for the party that recognized them as adults and voters.

Hallen
06-13-2012, 11:01 PM
Society is always hanging on the barest of threads. Only our belief in our society make it strong. Anything that seriously unhinges that faith can be the snowball that creates the avalanche.
Young people are all different and have different focus so generalities are just that. However, their political attention is generally on the hot topic of the day.

One of the reasons why some people perceive it is safe to behave like they do, for example, the tuition riots in Canada, is because they believe that government and society will still protect them, keep them safe, and stop things before they go too far. But what if that doesn't happen? What if things degrade so fast and so violently that nothing can stop it? Things would have to already be bad for it to work on a large scale. But if things were already tenuous worldwide, then some kind of out of hand protest over some relatively minor political squabble could be that snowball you're looking for. Throw in some destructive technology, like a computer virus that was designed to erase student debt records, but in actuality destroys the world financial system, and you have a nice recipe for a worldwide collapse.