|By Alan Hall | Excerpted from the April 2012 Socionomist
Originally published under the title “Society Hungers for a Dark Future”
[Ed: The film version of Suzanne Collins’ first book in her best-selling trilogy The Hunger Games earned $150 million on its March 2012 opening weekend – the third highest opening in cinematic history. As of this writing, with the film version of the second book in the trilogy – Catching Fire – set to release in a couple of months, we couldn’t help but wonder about the series’ wild popularity. Why now? In this 2012 report, socionomist Alan Hall explains that the dystopian saga reflects society’s long-term negative mood. Here is an excerpt of the article.]
As Parade puts it, The Hunger Games comments on many of today’s big social issues: “war, power, sacrifice, personal ethics, the haves vs. the have-nots, and the dangerous nature of our increasingly voyeuristic society.” As socionomists, we would add that it does so with a decidedly negative-mood bent—and therein lies its power.
Indeed, Publishers Weekly called The Hunger Games,
… the right book at the right time. … a powerful metaphor for the Great Recession. … it reflects our long-running military adventures and our subsequent losses of freedom and totalitarian excesses: surveillance, rendition, torture, preemptive war, and a tiny percentage of citizens who suffers while the vast majority watch it all on TV.3
Characteristics of Dystopian Literature
Classic dystopian stories are those in which society itself is the antagonist, often in the form of an oppressive, authoritarian state. These tales tend to appear and become popular during negative trends in social mood. Fiction writers can reflect society’s prevailing mood, as The Elliott Wave Theorist demonstrated for musicians in its July/August 2010 Beatles study and its December 2011 Sinatra study.
Why the hunger for such dark fare, especially when sociologists might expect people to be looking for an escape from current circumstances? The reason, socionomics posits, is that society’s actions reflect its moods; they do not express its desire to overcome or escape them.
When society’s mood is trending negatively, people naturally grow increasingly pessimistic. They tend to share darker visions of the future; those visions often include authoritarian oppression, deprivation, misery, fear, dehumanization and terror. Top authors and screenwriters get swept up by the mood with everyone else, so both supply and demand work together to create dystopian classics. As large-degree negative trends develop, people actualize their negative visions via aggressive actions. …
In the remainder of this concise, three-page article, Hall reviews the most popular dystopian tales of the past century – such as Ayn Rand’s Anthem, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. He plots 15 of these dystopian works on a graph of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to evaluate the social mood environment in which they were produced.
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Most economists, historians and sociologists
presume that events determine society’s mood. But socionomics hypothesizes
the opposite: that social mood regulates the character of social events. The
events of history—such as investment booms and busts, political events,
macroeconomic trends and even peace and war—are the products of a naturally
occurring pattern of social-mood fluctuation. Such events, therefore, are not
randomly distributed, as is commonly believed, but are in fact probabilistically
predictable. Socionomics also posits that the stock market is the best available
meter of a society’s aggregate mood, that news is irrelevant to social
mood, and that financial and economic decision-making are fundamentally different
in that financial decisions are motivated by the herding impulse while economic
choices are guided by supply and demand. For more information about socionomic
theory, see (1) the text, The
Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior © 1999, by Robert Prechter;
(2) the introductory documentary History's
Hidden Engine; (3) the video Toward
a New Science of Social Prediction, Prechter’s 2004 speech before
the London School of Economics in which he presents evidence to support his
socionomic hypothesis; and (4) the Socionomics Institute’s website, www.socionomics.net.
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