Thursday, May 19, 2016

Fifteen Million Merits

“Fifteen Million Merits” is a satirical dystopian show that mocks the future reality of the human race. With an overwhelming emphasis on technology people are extremely limited in terms of their self-expression and freedom. These slave-like characters are forced to live in a world where human interaction isn’t very ideal. Living a very mundane life these people go from sleeping and waking up in a cell that only contains a sink straight to their jobs. Everyone in this slave like social status has the same job. All of the people cycle on an exercise bike, which powers up countless screens that are literally everywhere along with all of their surroundings. While cycling they generate merits which are used for basic necessities like eating and any other things they wish to purchase or use. However, the plot is not the root of this dystopia. In fact there are a lot of non-narrative elements such as music,color, imagery and symbolism that make this society a dystopia.
The type of music in this show was extremely dramatic. More often than not, we get this slow paced mellow piano playing. This mellow piano builds up with suspense at a constant rate. Along with other instruments that play the music inevitably turns into full fledged harmonic disarray. This music really gives you the type of vibe you might feel when watching a very suspenseful movie. The music seemed to build up until the main character Bing Madsen can’t seem handle this lifestyle anymore. While threatening to slit a main artery Bing rips the truth into the judges and in front of all of the people tuning in for the audition stream “Hot Shot”. The truth which was expecting to be the downfall of this utopia, didn't have the chaotic effect it was intended for. Like many dystopias, a temporary solution for the problem was enacted. Instead of embracing the truth the judges commented on his emotion delivering the truth. In the end they offered him an alternate but much better life style where he would never have to cycle again but the truth didn't change anything.
Throughout the show there weren't any bright colors except on the screens. Everyone’s attire consisted of grey jumpsuits and tank tops. All of the walls, ceilings and flooring were tinted with very dark colors like black, dark grey or dark blue. I really noticed the effect of color at the end of the show when, Bing himself is in his new lifestyle and finishes his stream. He steps out of what looked like a pitch black room and into another right beside it. The room right beside it contained blinding white tiles, furniture and walls. When looking at the side by side of the two contrasting colors it’s shocking.
There is some subtle but significant symbolism going on throughout the show. One thing in particular stuck out to me which was Abi Khans’ origami penguin. Abi consistently made the penguins on a daily basis knowing, that it would be treated like detritus. She even know that it would last no longer than one day before it was collected and thrown into the garbage. The penguin was one of the only self expressive artifacts and it was considered garbage. Another were the people who collected the garbage. They actually wore something other than a grey jumpsuits,  they wore what looked like yellow hazmat suits without the masks. Something noticeable about the actual persons cleaning up the garbage, they were all fat and treated like second class citizens in comparison to the cyclists. On numerous occasions the cleaning crew would get yelled and cursed at, by on of the people cycling in particular. He did not show any remorse for them even though they were just doing their jobs.
The last thing of importance worth mentioning was the use of propaganda and sex on the screens. During the commercials or advertisements which appeared often, it showed a popular woman singing and stated how everyone starts at the bottom, but with hard work you could be just liker her. Granted, it was almost impossible to be in her position considering you needed fifteen million merits to get a chance at an audition. Fifteen million merits took  a very long time to accumulate. As long as it took though, it took even longer because you needed to spend merits on things like food or you'd starve. Plenty of people would starve trying to accumulate that amount of merits. The other type of commercial that was aired often was basically porn. There was a lot of erotic sexualization of women which was normalized in this society. All of the men except Bing and even plenty of the women seemed to love it.

This show and all of its elements are satirizing our future reality. Today’s technology is taking over, more and more people work via computers or in front of screens. People are already carrying screens with them everywhere they go i.e phones. Almost everyone around the world has a phone, it's the new social norm.This exposure to technology is evolving around us everyday and continuing to grow. It really appears that our society is getting closer to the reality of “Fifteen Million Merits” faster than anticipated.

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