Have you ever watched a film that tests the survival skills of its characters and wondered how long you would last in the same situation? I have, and the odds never look good for me…
But then again different disasters call for different tactics and personality traits. For instance, if your specialty is hand-to-hand combat then that might be beneficial in a zombie apocalypse but it wouldn’t be so useful in an Orwellian cityscape.
In light of this I have broken down possible dystopic situations into the three categories shown below, and have listed beneath them what I believe to be the attributes needed to survive them. Which one world would you rather live in?
For those like myself who wouldn’t thrive in any of these situations…well, they never really mention it in the movies, but suicide is an option. Also double-crossing and bargaining are tools that anyone can use if the moment requires it. You will be thought of as a prick but hey, at least you’re alive, right?
Type of Dystopia: Every-Man-For-Himself/Disease Pandemic
Movie examples: 28 Days Later/World War Z
Physical Attributes: You would need to be quick on your feet but also possess a decent stamina to live in this type of world. A good immune system is also essential, as well as being fit and sturdy…basically you need to be all the things that modern man is not.
Mental Attributes: Logical to a fault, a survivor of a disease pandemic needs to be ruthless in tough situations and be able to block out guilt and grief. Be adaptable and never rely on anyone but yourself – this is the survival of the fittest, compassion will only slow you down.
Special Skills: Can you make a fire out of twigs and leaves? Kill a wild animal with your bare hands, gut it and then cook it? Purify water? Tie a decent tourniquet? If you can’t you better be a quick learner.
Type of Dystopia: Gladiatorial
Movie examples: Battle Royale/Hunger Games
Physical Attributes: There are two options with this: you can either be fast and accurate or strong and tough. Outside of being like a sniper or a bulldozer there’s not much chance for you, I’m afraid. Nerds and geeks will only get through this if they can hide well and think on their feet, perhaps with an in-depth knowledge of their surroundings…think traps and poisons.
Mental Attributes: Again a stern, cold-hearted logic is required. You can’t have an internal moral debate about the act of murder and you must try not to form too many alliances unless you can see them boding well for you in the future.
Special Skills: A player of chess will do well here, tactics and game-playing is bound to help anyone – perhaps even regardless of their physical attributes. Also, killing someone is harder than you might think so knowing how to do it properly would be useful.
Type of Dystopia: Oppressive Society
Movie examples: Brazil/Nineteen Eighty-Four
Physical Attributes: Plain-looking, suitably relaxed and confident, a member of an oppressive society must blend into their surroundings and never cause suspicion. You must look the part, act the part and even think the part to be able to overthrow that pesky authoritarian government.
Mental Attributes: Be made of steel, completely in control of all emotions and reactions yet possess a fire that rages within at all times. Can you utterly detest something but repress those feelings and never tell a soul? Could you plot a terrorist attack in your head? Can you remember faces, names and conversations?
Special Skills: Being a decent actor is needed here as feigning honesty and innocence is hard. Learn how to be a quiet leader and accept that sacrifice might be the only way to change things. Martyring oneself is likely.