Thursday, May 26, 2016

15 Million Merits

Fifteen Million Merits leaves us in a society so capable of handling rebellion that Bing's last desperate attempt at a revolutionary disruption of the norm was instantly monetized and redirected to subvert the masses further. It leaves us to ponder how compliant we are in our own subservience to the capitalist machine. How does advertising penetrate our every day? Today, we only have to watch an ad for 5 minutes before we can skip to our video or game. Our phones can already sense when we're looking at them, they can track our line of sight. How long until we are forced to keep our eyes open for all the media saturation affronting us? If this seems like a joke, consider that Pandora will pause ads when your volume is turned all the way down. There is no way to avoid them aside from physically removing your listening device from your ears, a luxury not afforded to Bing and his comrades. 
There is very little human interaction in this society. In the beginning it seems like everyone basically ignores each other through their own form of entertainment; entertainment that is constantly interrupted by ads that push the “guardians’” agenda. However, little by little we see some form of human to human interaction. This interaction is very awkward and forced so it really seems like the people in this society really don’t interact with each other often or ever. Everyone is just controlled by their technology. So controlled that they use themselves to power it in order to keep it running. However, it doesn’t seem that they realize they are doing this. There were a few times Bing didn’t want to watch his screen but he kept on riding his bike anyway since that is the only way to make enough merit to ignore all of the ads thrown at you. It’s a vicious cycle, but how many other people might feel the same way as him? Surely he can’t be the only one. If enough people just stopped biking, there would be no source of power to run their screens. There would be no merit and they might be free.
The way this society keeps these people going is through their obnoxious ads. People have to bike in order to earn merit in order to skip or mute the ads. It’s not that far off from our society. We can still find ways to ignore our ads but services like Pandora, YouTube, Spotify are already offering to charge people to have a completely ad free service. These services make some money to display these ads and then make money off of us to get rid of these ads. It’s a bit ridiculous. However, I don’t think our society will ever really reach this point due to our social media. Fifteen Million Merits did not seem to really have a way of connecting each other through their technology other than their avatars. Their society is very impersonal and by disconnecting all of these people from each other, creates a good Utopia because it’s easier to target people individually in order to make them comply.
 The way Fifteen Million Merits humiliates people that are not very fit and objectifies women is not too far off from the way our media controls our views on fatter people and women. If you’re too fat to bike, then you clean. It’s not hard work like biking but it’s still work. Their seemingly only real video game is about shooting the cleaners. Their TV shows are about humiliating fatter folk. They are conditioned not to respect these people at all. The same thing goes for how they treat women. They are hyper-sexualized and the ads that you usually get are porn ads (which is not far off from the banner ads we have when we browse the internet) of completely unrealistic, hyper-sexualized women usually being very submissive. There’s no way women can truly earn respect in such a society that forces your opinion of women to be a certain way.

It’s unclear whether this society has an “outdoors” or if everyone just lives in a giant warehouse but it is clear that if you bike enough and indulge enough in such a society that you want to “make it” in front of the judges (guardians), you will get “nicer” things. When you are of the working class, you are all pixelated but when you are approved by the judges then everyone can see your actual face and you get a realistic view of the world. Is it a window or is it just an upgrade from pixelated life? It’s pretty unclear but you only get this “privileged” life if you comply with the judges. With or without the use of their Cuppliance.

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