Dystopian Movies

Look at the following photos (click on  the PDF file below) and decide which one best suits the excerpt you read by Paul Auster.  Be prepared to explain why (that is: explain your choice of the photo).



Then look at the following video clip.  Pau Auster’s wife Siri Hustvedt, talks about consumerism and propagandaIn what way are they linked?  Can you answer some of the questions she is posing?  She raises some interesting issues and I would love you to be prepared to discuss them in class.  Your answers will certainly pave the way to our analysis of "1984" and "Animal Farm".

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59 risposte a Dystopian Movies

  1. anonimo scrive:

    I think the picture that best suits the extract of Paul Auster’s “In The Country of Last Things”, is the last one.

    I am completely sure that this is an image taken from the film “Escape From New York” (in Italian “1997: Fuga da New York”); in this film, the protagonist Jena Plissken (Kurt Russel) is a war hero, and he must save the USA president.

    Now New York is surrounded by huge town walls and it is impossible to step over them.

    Inside these walls live strange people; they are ruled by animal instincts.

    The world has chanced and people have changed.

    Also the fifth image represents the alteration of the everyday life’s rules.

    Alex De Large and his droogs are killing a drunk. They are used to these things.

    They steal, they smash everything, they kill, they rape, they insult, and doing these things, for them, is a routine!


  2. anonimo scrive:

    Dear Eugenia,

    It seems you are a film expert. Thanks for describing the two films so vividly.

    See you in class.

    Your teacher of English.

  3. anonimo scrive:

    In my opinion the second and the third are the photos that best suite Paul Auster’s dystopian view. The second is particularly emphatic with all the System orders written on signs sticked to the palaces. It reminds of 1984 city where everything is tided and catalogued in order to be controlled easily (people included). It suggest also the absurdity and the sadness of a place where every action a man should do is written on a wall, to be read every single day and to make people conscious of their worthlesseness. This photo is significant related to Paul Auster’s excerpt, as it presentes a place where human being have built something bigger then them, which is going to trap them. Instead, the third picture hit me because it shows how a man (and especially a child) could be astonished in front of a reality he can’t understand and feel part of.

    And the same happens to the protagonist of “In The Country of Last Things” when he can’t figure out why should people build a huge wall to protect them from wars when human beings had already invented airplanes.

    by Simone

  4. anonimo scrive:

    arnoldi martina

    I chosed the first one because in my opinion dystopia is “someone”who has the power to controll the other.he can puts in people’s mind his idea,his way of thinking and nobody has the strenght to go against him.liberty of think is cancelled and they turn into listener,like in the photo,and they obey and they see the situation no more.

  5. anonimo scrive:

    arnoldi martina

    in my opinion propaganda and consumerism are linked.one is the consequence of the other,they create a circle.the circle with the years is bigger.propaganda invites us to go shopping and buy the latest t-shirt,jeans,mobile phone or even the latest car!you are tempted,and you aren’t able to say NO!so starts consumerism,we buy all new things,some months later we all have the new thing.propaganda begins her temptation with another product and it will go on like this.i think we are the supporter of propaganda and of course of consumerism.

  6. anonimo scrive:

    I would choose the second picture: in my opinion it represents very well a dystopia, a country were you are not free to be yourself, where it is the government that decides what you must do. First of all you must obey ( I suppose it is the word written on the left), then you have to consume, so that you get a role in the country’s economy, then you have to watch tv, through which the media can manipulate your mind an finally you have to conform, in order to lose your identity and be controlled in an easier way. This are the basis of a modern totalitarism.

    p.s.: if the man in the first picture is the Big Brother, I’m very disappointed: in my imagination he’s completely different, that’s why I usually don’t like movies based on novels!

    federica zille

  7. anonimo scrive:

    mrs huvstedt wonders how can the consumer culture influence people’s lives and minds, in “in the country of last things” her husband writes about a dystopic society, which tries to manipulate people’s minds: the topic is the same, they just use two different instruments, questions and fiction, both meant to make us reflect about our contemporary society. She asks what does it mean to resist to this visual and verbal culture of consumerism: I think the risk is emargination; the showbiz rules. But I also would like to say that today many young people who oppose to the “power” or to the “given culture”, behave just like the others: to disagree and to protest has become the new fashion. Then she says that it is a culture of repetition, and when you repeat something over and over again, you begin to believe it’s true. I’m the same opinion, but from my point of view it is our hypocrisy’s fault: we all should be more responsible, aware that if we weren’t scared by judgements, we could better our society.

    federica zille

  8. anonimo scrive:

    I chose the first picture, because it makes me think to brainwashing. It reminds me of totalitarian governments. Of many photos I can’t say anything, because I didn’t see any of the films they are taken by.

    I think propaganda makes us consumerist, and cosumerism change our lifestyle. We are subject to influence of ads, that tell us what we have to wear, how we have to look like, how we have to behave…what we have to buy. Under this messages we think that if we don’t do what they say, we will be alone. But we are afraid of solitude, so we do what we think the others do. And we buy, and we spend, and we are never satisfied, we never feel ok. This generates stress, that affects our lives. We want to be similar to the others, and we do activities of every kind. So we are busy, and stressed, but we don’t stop behaving in this way, otherwise we feel excluded.

    Pietro Perin

  9. anonimo scrive:

    I chose the third picture because in my opinion represents better a dystopian society and Auster’s thought. The photo shows us a man who feels small in front of big and high skyscrapers. It’s a metaphor that explains well the sense of no belonging to the society: the little person represents the man who doesn’t want to submit to its (of society) impositions, or rather of its control; the high skyscraper is the System, the Big Brother in “1984”, that governs all the society. We can associate the person who still remember what an airplane is, to the figure at the bottom of the photo and all the other people to skyscraper that are controlled by the highest skyscraper.

    Monica Santi

  10. anonimo scrive:

    Guarino Ilaria

    I think the picture best suits the extract taknen from “In the coutry of last things”is the second one.This image inspires in me a sense of oppression just like when I read for the first time the extract.And I regret to note that this image remind me to the modern society we live in.

    We are always bombarding about what should we do, how we should behave, what we we have to choose in order to live better and what we should think in order to reach the standard of our society. The only difference between our reality and the reality told in the extract is that our system tells us clearly how to behave while in the text there is no categorical taxation.

    I think that there is no better image that could explain the control that power has on the minds.

  11. anonimo scrive:

    Guarino Ilaria

    to what concerne our reality i think tha consumerism is the main factor for which we are increasingly turning into a dystopic society.The more you get the more you want.The more you have the more you became.

    Trade dominates us and everything revolves around it.Propaganda and consumerism are closely related.Without advertising and without information almost of the product would not be sold.

    And because of this we are influenced to buy unnecessary goods beliving that they are essential.

  12. anonimo scrive:

    The pictures which are nearest to “The country of last things” are the first and the third because they both represent a totalitarian society in which man are too little to opposed them if they are not followed by other.If people are not strong enough to think by themselves they can not they are not free also in a society totally free society.When the power of buying of the mass started to be noticed by Ford he understood that propaganda was born to feed the motor of consumerism.Propaganda is also the motor of dystopyis which can not exist without convincing people accurately.The high use of propaganda it’s similar to brainwashing.

  13. anonimo scrive:

    The fourth picture suits better than other, in my opinion, the excerpt I read because the thing that hit me was the presence of soldiers that control the workers at the wall and the idea of violence that grown up in my mind;but another image that hit me is the second one becouse of the idea of the wall of “see wall project” with wich I am came up while the reading.

    Both consumerism and propaganda find their basis on insistent communication:as A.’s wife said:“ …if you repeat something over and over and over again, people begin to believe it’s true.” To answer to one question she posed(how it become part of us and what does it mean to be able to resist to visual and verbal culture?):I think it become part of us because of a sort of addiction that television created; private channels need ad and any sort of propaganda to survive, and we seem depend on television(with the pronuon “we” I mean our society -especially growing up generations-). Then there are subliminal masseges that make us tv or consumerism adicted, and there are people whose job is based on finding methods to convince us of consumerism…our society is now based(economicaly and culturally spaking) on consumerism.


  14. anonimo scrive:

    The picture I choose is the third, the which one with the girl who looks at the sky and at all the hauses that are all around her. The hauses remembered me the buildings that we create in our minds and that can be destoyed in one second with a phrase,a word…

    The dialog between the two characters represents that phrase,that word, which can destroy the society subjected to the government.

    Canzi Giulia

  15. anonimo scrive:

    Among the photos i prefer the third one where there is a child (it seems) surrounded by lots of skyscrapers. I think that this image is very effective to make us understand how the system works. On the one hand there is the little boy who represent the society that is weak, submitted, controlled and in some way crushed by the system and on the other hand there is the power, here symbolized by the high and imposing buildings. They(skyscrapers) close the horizon to human ambitions so that people are no more free.

    Mrs Hustveds talks about our society that is influenced by consumerism. Today the majority of people think that the well-being of the individual is linked to the possibility of buying always new things. They want to be trendy and follow fashion.

    The contemporary society is satisfied by the possession of property and it seems that it is guided by this new process. Consumerism has the power to change people’s attitude of mind.

    What Mrs Hustveds said can be linked to the extract of Paul Auster’s “In the country of last things” because there is consumerism that can be compared with the government which has the power to controll people and make them following the rules. Both want to impose their principle. On the contrary there are common people influenced by consumerism like the society of “workers” guided by the authority.

    Marson Chiara

  16. anonimo scrive:

    The second picture reflects better than the others the atmosphere of oppression created by the government,people have to follow the rules of the state and can’t do what they want.or create their future as they wish,in this kind of society there is no space for personality and free will,the authority abuses its power and plans every single thing for the lives of its victims,who have to obey and accept the situation.

    Even the colours recall the scenario of the dystopian society,the colour that predominates is grey ,the skyscrapers are grey,the sky is grey and even the light that illuminates the scene is feeble and faint,all these details represents the lack of freedom and sadness caused by the regime.

    Montrasio Valentina

  17. anonimo scrive:

    I would choose the third picture, I think it depicts perfectly a dystopian society. As “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressors is the mind of the oppressed”, I think that a dystopian society is characterized by and atmosphere of psycological oppression more than an atmosphere of physical violence, I mean, obviously there is violence but the most potent violence is that of the mind. So this picture with its huge skyscrapers that somehow crush morallyand then even physically that person, better rappresents what I am saying.

    Chiara Pinardi

  18. anonimo scrive:

    Consumerism stalks us and enters in our life every day.We can see it in the advertisement on tv, on the billboards(cartelloni pubblicitari), on the internet and also we hear it on the radio.I agree with what Paul Auster’s wife says in the last part of the video:”our culture is a bit like propaganda,if you repeat something over and over again people begin to believe it’s true” but it is not only this,because when somebody hears something over and over again,s/he begins to do these things,for example to buy things seeing on the tv.There is a comparison between “in the country of last things” and Siri Hustvedt’s video.In the book,Paul Auster “shows” how people are submitted to the society,how easily are they manipulated,and in her video,in fact,Siri asks how are people influenced by the consumerism.They face the same subject but in two different ways.

    I think that the second picture represents better than the others the book “in the country of last things” because there are those high skyscapers that oblige people to do what the system wants.It’s clear that people aren’t free and all these signs underline the fact that people are under a hard control,as happens in “1984” with Big Brother who spies upon everybody(and maybe the first picture refears to this book).

    Santarossa Barbara

  19. anonimo scrive:

    I thinck that the picture that best rappresentrs the Paul Oster’s dystopia is the third. I think that this expresses the sense of impotence in front of a social power that is surrounding, overlooking us and that does not give us opportunity to exit. Regarding the video, I think consumerism can be seen as a subtle control of our minds imposed by capitalist society. We are totally dominated by consumerist imposed by society as men who in Dystopia are totally dominated by the ideas of the party. We are in a sort of authoritarian regime where consumerism is the dictator and advertising is the propaganda.


  20. anonimo scrive:

    corrections to the first row=> I think that the picture that best represents the Paul Ouster’s dystopia is the third.

    francesco marson

  21. anonimo scrive:

    Both the first and the second images are, in my opinion, linked with the excerpt from Paul Auster. I think the first image has not need of comments: it is the representation of what is a totalitarian government, in which the only thing that counts is the will of the head, the only possible and that has value. Another thing that this picture communicates is the role of men, whose opinions and ideas have no value (men are in the dark while the image of the head is lit), but whose presence is essential to the existence of the totalitarian government. It is canceling the individuality of each person that an authoritarian government may be born. So, the first image makes me think of the totalitarianism of the twentieth century, but the second has an equally strong impact. It represents a reality to which we are subjected every day, a new form of oppression, the Consumerism, which regulates deeply our way of life (so much that sometimes we don’t even realise it, as said in the video clip). It is a new form of oppression; we think to have choice, but in reality we are induced to conformism, to be more easily controllable. It seems that people facing the society is like the child (in the third image) in front of a wall of skyscrapers: there is only one possible direction, without any kind of alternatives.

    Federica Cozzarin

  22. anonimo scrive:

    in my opinion the first one and second one reflect the Paul Auster’s idea of Dystopia. for me, they reflect a lot the 1984 reality.

    the first image seems like the Big Eye that controls everybody. in fact, when we read the book 1984 i imagined that place with that background. the second image reflect the perfect dystopia world: everybody is blind, his acts are influenced by the Governement, is going on for intertia and doesn’t realize that the reality is in front of their eyes covered by bacon. we’re blind in front of badness of reality, of the world, of the human beings.

    Laura Sist

  23. anonimo scrive:

    In my opinion both the first and the second images are the ones that best suit with Paul Auster’s dystopian view. The first photo is the most appropriate to represent a totalitarian government, peculiar of the dystopian society, a society in which the government completely controls the masses by controlling their thoughts, altering history, events and even changing the meaning of some words to suit the cruel needs of the party and of the “leader” (as happens in Orwell’s “1984”). On the other hand, the second image is the most suitable with the view of a dystopian society based on conformism, consumerism and mental alienation, which goes with the idea of a complete submission to the government. The admass signs and the pervasive clichés adopted by the hypothetical dystopian party in the picture (“conform”, “buy”, “consume”, “obey”, “no thought”, “watch TV”) are addressed to the alienate population with the purpose of transform them in empty containers, ready to be plumped with mirages, blazing lies and every sort of falsity. The leader wants to make the population inoffensive, innocuous, uninformed and happy in its miserable condition of subordination, servitude and conformism, and he obtain this with the manipulated and astute use of the media. Every reference to people, events, facts and places is pure coincidence.

    Alessandro Piccin

  24. anonimo scrive:

    I chose the first picture because fits the typical dictatorial regime characteristics. The logo of the government appears almost everywhere to remind people that government is everywhere and controls them. Another significative element is the mass of people gathering in front of a big picture of the dictator. The image of his face is as big as the mass itself as to communicate that also if he’s only one, he’s more important than people. The last element is the illumination: the spots where light is more predominant are the face and the logos ti significate the lack of importance of citizen in the dark.

    About the video:

    The way we are influenced by consumism is add: we are constantly under the subliminal messages taht add gives to us. So we can’t realize taht we are becoming a part of consumism ourself. A way to resist to this? Think with our mind, not to watch the TV, try to find out the trick, the subliminal message in add. This method of add is strictly linked to the dystopia and to the totalitary regime: the repetition of something makes you believe that it’s the truth.

    Giulia Raineri

  25. anonimo scrive:

    I’ve personally found this interview really interesting. I agree with what Auster’s wife says, according to consumerism, especially to the consequences of propaganda. The inexhaustible process of globalization is causing a ”massification” of the cultures. All the features that are peculiar of a culture, were totally uprooted and have left their place to others use and custom, that have become the same all over the world. The weak point of societies are young people; they are more flexible and it is easy to influence them, according to what Mrs Hustvedt says: “repeating something over and over again, people end up believing it is true…”. This is also the effect of propaganda; every company that wants his products to be sold, tries to convince in every way that this product is the best. Consumerism and Propaganda are linked in this way: more you publicize a product , the most it will be sold. In this day and age it is difficult to brake this process because by now it is too much deep-rooted all over the world.

    Carla Cipolla

  26. anonimo scrive:


    I think that the picture, that explains better than the others the ideal of a dystopian society, is the first one. In a dystopia society there’s a man, or a group of men that decide everything and the population undergoes the rules and the continuous “resolution” of a face, that embodies the characteristics of a god and of the power. Maybe nobody know if the man that are represented everywhere is a real man or only a face, but nevertheless everyone thinks that he is the power, he is the order and nothing happens if he doesn’t want it.

  27. anonimo scrive:

    I personally choose the third picture. It has immediately inspired to me a feeling of oppression, physically because builidings are too tall and prevent men from breathing, but also psycological because, according to what dystopia is, the oppression is linked also to mind. If I can, I will also choose the second picture because the labels over and on the buildings are the best rappresentation of the propaganda, consumerism and the oppression of the system over mankind, typical of dystopia.

    Carla Cipolla

  28. anonimo scrive:

    Personally, the image that best suits the excerpt by Paul Auster is the second one. it shows a city full of poster preaching the right every days actions and behaviours. This is the image of the distopian city, the cage of its citizen that every day are obliged to follow the System rules, the ones that are written in the posters. Every single moments of the day is controlled by the system, the number of hours of works, sleep and play are planned and nobody are allowed to change them.

    People are no more able to decide for their own social and private life, and every day and every second they must remember that they are controlled by the sistem and they must OBEY, without expressing their own opinion, if they do the system proceeds with the brainwash or elimination. In this distopian city people are no more human they are like machines working for the system forgetting who they are.

    Martina Nadal

  29. anonimo scrive:


    Siri Hustvedt perfectly portrays our modern society. We are ruled by fashion, by politics, by everything.

    I think everyone is ruled by something, no one is immune.

    Consumerism is an integral part of our culture and now it is becoming a part of our life.

    I must admit I really love fashion things, and in this case consumerism had “infect” me.

    Paul Auster’s wife also talks about propaganda and the fact that with the running of the time people start to think that everything that is told as reality and true represents the truth!

  30. anonimo scrive:

    I think the picture that best suits the story by Paul Auster is the fourth one, this is a shot taken from the film “Children of Men”, a film that I watched this summer. The film is set in 2027 when the world is affected by a global infertility. This future is a perfect example of dystopian world, it is ruled by illegality and terrorism, the governments of the world are collapsing and the United Kingdom, where the protagonists live, is one of the lasts. Here immigrants are persecuted and closed in prison-like camps, waiting to be sent back to their homelands. The protagonist, Theo, must save the last pregnant girl, who is an illegal immigrant, by trying to escape from UK and find rescue in a ship called “Tomorrow”. And part of the “Human Project”. In my opinion this is a story that suits the excerpt I have read, because it describes a world where the government cares no more to the people but only to save itself and in the movie Theo doesn’t trust the government because he knows that if he gave them the girl they would have sent she back to her country or they would have killed her through experiments, in the story the protagonists doesn’t believe in the government too. As the people “forgot” the airplane, in the film they forgot what a birth is , or what is integration. I think the walls built in the film are invisible but as strong as the one is being built in the passage of the novel.

  31. anonimo scrive:

    Obviously consumerism influences us mainly through advertising and commercial. The factor that made consumerism explode, in my opinion, was television. TV is part of our life, I think my generation doesn’t know what is life like without it. TV is the best way to influence people, I mean, it strikes you even if you aren’t watching . In fact the jingle of a commercial is what makes you remember that product. An example is the “Pocket Coffee” one: it is the same since I remember, almost 20 years, and I guess everybody remembers the jingle. Propaganda has the same aim of advertising, “if you repeat things over and over again people begin to believe it’s true”, the only difference is the consequence of them, the first one is the vote, the second one the purchase.

    Riccardo Bagattin

  32. anonimo scrive:

    I think that both the first and the third photos best suits the excerpt by Paul Auster because both describe an authoritarian government in which people feel small. In particular the first is the most appropriate to represent a totalitarian government that control thousands of people, make masses believe that this is the best government, that this is the best situation for people that had never been before (that is what George Orwell wrote in 1984).

    The third picture makes me think about how small a person in front of the power is. I can feel a sense of oppression that I could have living under control an authoritarian government. The high buildings are comparable to the wall that people are building in the extract of Paul Auster.

    In the video clip Siri Hustvedt speaks about propaganda that is the foundation over is based an authoritarian government. In George Orwell’s 1984 is always repeated “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength” and by dint this slogan people begun to believe in that. Another dystopian novel is concentrated on consumerism, that is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where all the people had to buy things when they become old, that happened very often, so they are subjugated by fashion. Nowadays, in our society it is reducing the critic consumption of things: often people buy things that aren’t necessary, or chance too early technological things, like mobile phone. But it is not only our fault: nowadays things are made to work only a lapse of time that often coincides with the guarantee, than we have to change them. So the consumer mentality is corroding our society, but maybe because of the economical crisis we could find a solution: if people don’t have money they don’t buy, so it could be a reduction of useless things.

    Federica Battistin

  33. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    Federica, unfortunately for you the first photo is taken from the film adaptation of Orwell’s novel “1984”. What was your mental picture of Big Brother? I am quite curious to know. Since you are exceptionally good at drawing, why don’t you draw it for us?

    I read some really enlightening comments on Siri Hustvedt’s video. I was sure her comments would create much debate and reactions of different sorts.

    Ilaria the photos were meant somehow to link the passage to our society, since dystopic novels are meant to comment on our lifestyles and our societies. As you point out, when a person controls our mind that person controls our body too, that person can “use” us as if we were “lifeless” beings. To your comment “the more we have the more we become” I would reply “the more we have the more we lose, we fail to be”. Through advertising you do not just push people towards feeling the urge of having things they do not necessarily need, but also (and this is quite alarming) of becoming and looking like the stereotypical images promoted by advertising or commercials (i.e. to be successful you need to have lots of money; if you want to pick up a woman drive an expensive car: to be read: women are so shallow that they will date you for your money only; to pick up a man you need to be good-looking, half-naked and possibly half-witted: to be read: if you do not want to remain a single woman for the rest of your life, stop thinking, stop eating and think of looks only, because this is what men want from you, your body only.) It goes without saying that these stereotypes are negative both towards men and women.

    Marco, good point: propaganda is brainwashing!

    Francesco M. the name of the author we are studying is Paul AUSTER!!!!

    Riccardo, I have not watched the film “Children of Men”, but thanks to your detailed summary, I will definitely watch it soon. You mentioned the jingle of “Pocket Coffee”. Why did you do that? Now, I can’t get it out of my mind. Will I be able to sleep tonight or will I need to drive to a motorway cafè to buy myself a box of Pocket Coffee chocolates? 🙂

    Federica B. are you suggesting someone should take money away from us so that we wouldn’t spend it? 🙂

  34. anonimo scrive:

    I chose the second picture, because it rapresents better how a dystopian society must be.

    In this place we are not free to be ourselves and only the Government decides what we must do.In the second photo there are some signs that oblige us to obey,to consume,to buy,to watch TV,ecc…There is a sign that impressed me:”NO THOUGHT”(on the top of the skyscraper).Human cannot think with thair head.In my opinion the Government cannot impose a thing like that.

    This remind me to the novel “1984” of G. Orwell, that only the Big Brother governs all the society eliminating the freedom of thought.

    Giulia Marzio

  35. anonimo scrive:

    i think the first picture suits better this extract. i don’t know from which film this image is be taken but when i try to image the regime reigning in paul auster’s book i can figure in my mind nothing but this: a huge goo-like figure of the “great” president that stalk above all of us, watching us and trying to analize all your feelings and thought, ready to destroy us “for the sake of the country”. the poor workers that builds the wall in the novel are the little and impotent ones in the picture, just in the hand of the 2 dark eyes that reign over them, hidden behind a huge wall of a fake universal welfare

    giacomin elena

  36. anonimo scrive:

    Of course I prefer the first picture, because it refers to 1984 and it shows in a good way the power of charisma in a totalitarian regime. Propaganda is the base of almost every dystopian regime, and we can consider also consumerism like a sort of dystopia: we are forced to consume and consume until we have destroyed the whole world. It is not a terrible world like 1984’s, but surely it is a world with a predetermined ending, if we don’t change something.

  37. anonimo scrive:

    I chose the second photo, because I think that it is the one which best gets the idea of what a dystopian society is: the image represents a grey city in which there are a lot of signs that impose you specifical things you are obliged to do. This interferences of the government in the private life of the people deprives them of their privacy, which I think is an essential right. Moreover, the imposition of this few activities (work, sleep, play, watch TV) makes the people’s life so repetitive and monotonous that the only idea of it makes you feel sick.

    Jana Stefani

  38. anonimo scrive:

    i think that the best pictures is the first, because associated with the word ”dystopia” is the pictures that could remand to a land that is the opposit of utopia.in fact i think that this orrible view of world could be reality only if we are in a regime where we cannot think,speak or smething else with our mind and we are forced to think like someone else.


  39. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    Some of you forgot to express their views on the video taken from youtube!

  40. anonimo scrive:

    The first image represents the control of the population by an absolute power, the omnipresent eye that reads the intentions of people and influences their actions. This image gives also a face, it is a personification of this power and makes it material and then makes it even more frightening; because a threat that has physical reality is even more oppressive than an abstract entity: the individual feels closely controlled by a material presence.

    I think that fashion can be the best example of propaganda: that is, it imposes ways of dressing and tries to convince people to dress in that way, creating a false need to conform to it.

    Certainly in this process media and especially television play a decisive role. The constant bombardment of inputs to consume, to purchase certain kind of clothes, but also to buy many other objects “hypnotises” the users, especially younger people. The society of our century will be remembered for globalization and for these encouragements to an unbridled consumerism.

    Raggiotto Francesco

  41. anonimo scrive:

    well,consumerism and propaganda are strongly linked in the society of today. They fully represent the huge power of the global economic system and his capability to get in our life, whether we want it or not. You switch on TV and you have to watch 5 minutes of advertising per 10 minutes of any program, you switch on the radio and it’s just the same; pick up the newspaper and look at how many of its (coloured!) pages are covered by an advert. Even in the web sites there are windows that opens automatically everywhere and you cannot doing anything but look passively at them! we may not understand or may not care of advertising and its powerful slogans, but certainly we are going to know them in our subconscious, sooner or later. The consumerist society we are living in nowadays is mainly based on the unconscious involving of people by means of propaganda. It’s so widespread everywhere that it has become part of us. And we cannot do anything in order to control it, as we are the final link of the chain, the consumers. We are those who advertising and products are made for. Unfortunately we are forced to buy what the system want we buy and exploit; and the system sells always what the richest producers want to put on the market, since they can promote their brands in the best way. So, without realizing it, we are making a few rich people richer and thousands of poor people poorer. Small corner shops are disappearing giving way to super and hypermarket which are growing evrywhere. The most worrying thing is that now, living in the worst economic crysis of the last century, people usually take their cars to go even to the furthest hypermarkets, where they can find the big well-advertised brands at a good price, instead of walking round the corner, enter a small grocer’s, buying only what you can find there, maybe a little bit more expensive but with the guarantee of a great quality of local products. They are going to vanish in a short time, and what we can really do, in order to escape from this “reality which is going to be simplyfied into something that can be easily bought and sold”, as Siri Hustvedt said, is trying to save them. In my opinion, that’s the only way by which we can resist to this destructive culture.

  42. anonimo scrive:

    it’s me, Simone, always forgetting to put my name 😛

  43. anonimo scrive:

    I think that the photo which best suits the excerpt taken from “The Country of Last Things” is the second one.THAT is a dystopian society:you’re always told by the government what to do. In the second picture there are big posters with imperative vebs put everywhere in the city in order to influence people to do those things:they have to obey, to consume, the government already established how long people have to work, to sleep and to play. I think the key-poster is NO THOUGHT, in fact in a dystopian society people don’t have to think about anything, otherwise they will be punished (as we read in “1984” for example).

    In the videoclip Siri Hustvedt treats somehow the same argument:she is curious to find out how consumerism influnces our personalities, the way we live, the way we THINK, everything is simplified in something easier to be “bought and sold”. Our culture is a culture of repetition and as it happens with propaganda:”if we repeat something over and over again, people begin to believe it’s true” and this is what we said even in Auster, this is what happens in the society described in the passage we read. Perhaps our society is becoming a “dystopian” one..

  44. anonimo scrive:

    I always forget to put my name too!I’m Jessica Maiutto, sorry!

  45. anonimo scrive:

    This interview is really interesting.i agree with mrs hustvedt and I think that

    the key word of the speech is repetition,she wonders why people get addicted to consumerism that has become the most important feature of our society, the reason is just the repetition of the importance of buying in order to be part of the society through this kind of propaganda people get convinced that material things are the means to be integrated and to be part of a group,an emblematic example of this mechanism can be found among teenagers, for them the most important thing is being part of a group finding an identity that can’t be criticized,and since in our society the prerogative to be part of a teenagers group is to be fashionable, they are persuaded to buy and this breeds consumerism.this is only a little aspect of this topic but I think it is useful to understand this vicious circle.and when people are bombarded by the positive aspects of buying they lose their critical eye and begin to think this is true,and this is what happens in 1984 or in the country of last things,people believe the rules are true just because the government repeats them over and over again.I think that we should consider the real values of our society,such as friendship love family honesty.

    Montrasio Valentina

  46. anonimo scrive:

    For me the third picture represent in the best way the Paul Auster’s exercept because there is the contrast between the system, the beg wall, and the single person that cannot explain his own “originality”.

    Aboutthe video: No it’s all wrong for me. According to Marx there is forst the economy and then the moral, this is the only answer to all questions about consumerism. People that interrrogate themself about consumarism are big philosophers but they cannot see the Marx’s answer. Who despise consumarism has only got a mask on his face because of Mark’s theory! That’ all!


  47. anonimo scrive:

    Obviously my favourite picture is the first, because it is from the 1984 movie (that unfortunately I have not seen yet). About the video I agree with Siri Hustvedt and I believe that consumerism could be considered a form of dystopia because it is a process that only creates problems: the consumerism society destroys the bigger part of the sources of the planet to create products without a essential use, it also creates a lot of waste and the consumerism force to spend money in non useful things instead in positive projects, like renewable energy sources or Third World’s countries aims.

    Damiano Verardo

  48. anonimo scrive:

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, it depends on the point of view) the society we live in is ruled by the huge power of consumerism and by the anxiety that most people have of always buying new things. From the moment we wake up till when we go to bed, lots and lots and lots of different types of advertising literally hammer our brains by inviting us buying goods. Obviously consumerism and propaganda are linked, the mass-consumption of a certain good always requires a huge and spread advertising compaign; without propaganda there wouldn’t be mass-consumption.

    Naturally speaking we associate the word “consumerism” with the shopping of clothes, shoes,mobile phones…but, from my point of view,there is another type of consumerism that we often don’t take into consideration, that is the one of food. Many people have the idea that their fridges and cupboards must always be full of food ,and when they go food-shopping they always fill the shopping trolley (…and then they go home and realize that they forgot to buy the only thing they went shopping for!). Obviously the are addicted to that.

    “What does it mean to be able to resist to visual and verbal culture?” Well, as Eugenia said “Everyone is ruled by something, no one is immune”,in this world it is very difficult not being influenced by what the medias suggest us, as willy-nilly “consumer culture influences our personalities, the way people live, the way they think”. It is very difficult to resist to it, and most of the times we are not aware that we are being brainwashed, especially if we don’t ask ourselves questions, and if we don’t stop for a moment to think of what we are doing.

    Chiara Pinardi

  49. anonimo scrive:

    I think that the most appropriate image is the fourth one where Clive Owen-Theo is battling for a sign of hope. When the humanity hasn’t any hope, because the human beings can no more give birth to children, becomes angry and easily governed by police and central powers as happens in “Country of Last Things”.

    Propaganda and consumerism are linked because when we wear or use a certain object and even other people do the some we are a sort of advert of that object, so if someone wants to be like us he/she use that object too, and we create repetition and homologation.

    Consume influences our reality because is the only thing we know, it’s difficult for us even imagine a different world, so I think that a way to resist to consumings is to create and offer a different way of seeing reality

    Francesca Cazorzi

  50. MicheleDB scrive:

    When I read the post, before looking at the images, I had, in my mind, a precisely scheme that mirrored exactly what Paul Auster wrote “In the country of last things”. So seeing the photos I remained a little surprised, however in my opinion the photo that better suits the extract is the third because is the unique that has in the foreground only a lonely person. Moreover it represents the nihility and the solitude of a singol man against a (dystopic) society. In that picture the buildings are probably the symbols of the decisiveness of the potent and also of the motionlessness of the people that undergo the decisions. The man in the middle is enlight because is the only person in that city that knows the truth.

  51. MicheleDB scrive:

    Consumerism is linked to propaganda because, through propaganda and repetition, people think something is true, is nice, and you have to obtain it. if a crowd is conditioned by the same thing and all the people of the corwd think in the same way, so they will buy the same object; in that way you can explain consumerism.

    How consumer culture influences the personality, the way people live and think? We feel accepted when we are homologated. Homologated people follow fashion, to follow fashion means to be a consumeristic person, so if you want to feel accepted you have to take part in the consumer culture.

    How it becames part of us? I don’t know, it is a process without a start (because it existed before the propaganda) but that is very deep-rooted in our culture.

    What it means to be able to resist of that visual and verbal culture? To be able to feel different, stranger and to be able to support the consequences of that choice.

  52. anonimo scrive:

    I’m confused. I would love to unite the second and the third immage.For me a person who lives in a dystopian society isn’t free; she/he can’t think and see what she7he wants.

    As Baudelaire said ”Devil moves the filaments that move us”. We are corrupted by civilisation, that drives our mind and so even our body. In a dystopian society we are puppets, we are bombarded by ideas that we make part of us. We listen them lots of time so that we believe in what we are listening. The second immage draws a clear painting of what circles us. Here we read: Watch tv, buy, consume, submit. This is the key word: in a totalitarian regime we have to submit us and do what the society wants.

    The consumerism becames part of us and it influences us thanks to propaganda. Every day we listen and see tha same things on tv, on magazine, on newspaper, when we are in the street there are even person that stops you and gives you a piece of paper with advertisement; and when we hear the same thing “over and over and over again” we begin to believe that they are true and that we have to adopt the advices and the directions that the others give us.


  53. anonimo scrive:

    In my opinion the fourth is the image best suits the Paul Auster’s idea of dystopia. Rich men have the control on the army and they decide others fate. People would be scared by this, as the men in the picture are scared by soldiers, who don’t do theirs duty, guarding the people. They prevent any possible rebellion by poor people, tired by oppression. In “In the Country of Last Things “ people are guarded by armed police, as in the picture; and an other coincidence is the background: both, image and book, are set in a decadent city, surrounded by rubble.

    Siri Hustvedt, Paul Auster’s wife, talks about our reality, founded on the consumerism. If she has to reply to this blog, her choice about the best image of dystopia would be the second. A frenetic life in a city where all is define by strict rules (“work 8 hours – sleep 8 hours – play 8 hours”) and a big notice with the word “CONSUME” which everybody must see and follow.

    Until the society grows up, people let anything to the government, and are sure its would be done for the better of the life. “Consumerism” is possible only in a positive conditions. Nowadays we have the opposite; many state are entered in the recession and their have economic crisis. The consumerism is a milestone for the economy of a state. To be worry because our reality is founded on it, is an exaggeration made by authors as Orwell (1984), lived during a extremely tense world. I don’t thing consumerism wouldn’t be a possible danger in the future, but certainly, it isn’t now.

    Nicola Truant

  54. anonimo scrive:

    I think the second photo best suits the excerpt taken by Paul Auster, because it represents my idea of a dystopian world, that is a planet in which you are told what you have to do and you can’t rebel, because the government controls you. The photo is significant in this way and the signals situated along the road enforce the sense of oppression, to me.

    Siri Hustvedt claims propaganda is a particular kind of language, used and repeated by media to convince people about truth that is not true, actually. Propaganda is linked to consumerism because can be the basis also of the underhand message of “buying, buying, buying”, as if it was a drug. I think the only “weapon” we have is our power of thinking… We should learn to distinguish subliminal messages and become aware of the reason why we buy something, in this way… Consumerism is like a fever, and perhaps we could recognize its “virus” in propaganda. But, as Siri asks, what can we do to stop this kind of phenomenon? I think she’s right when she says people are not aware of being victims.

    Giulia Marcassa

  55. anonimo scrive:

    I agree with Simone: I think that the third and the second picture are the two that best suite Paul Auster’s view. The third make you feel a sense of anguish: this child is in front of something so tall and scary that we can imagine him astonished. The building is the society that uses and traps us. The second is the image of an ideal society (for what concern who has the power): everything is controlled and precisely planned, every people is conformed, except for the tyrants obviously. Everything is already written, but the difference is that wasn’t written by God but by somebody who has the presumption to be more and better than God.

    It reminds me of a movie and a book: “The Truman Show” and “1984”. But it reminds me also of the “Big Brother”, the reality show. Are we going to live in this way? There will be a tyrant one day who will control us as well? If so, I hope I will be dead for that time.

    “If you repeat something over and over and over again, people begin to believe it’s true”. I thing that this is one of the most true thinks that I have ever heard. For many centuries people has been used by the government because they are illiterate. Their primary needs are to eat and have a job that guarantees them the minimum to be alive. If someone promise them bread or a job (with money or some kind of pay) in exchange for a vote, they will do it.

    This happens because of the society: it will never stop to exploit the people. And the people want to have their bread and their jobs, no more. It’s a circular movement, this implies that is very hard to stop it.

    Elena Poles

  56. anonimo scrive:

    12 Perin Marco

  57. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    I like Francesco’s expression “unbridled consumerism”, to translate the Italian expression “consumismo sfrenato!”.

    So the points made by Siri Hustvedt has had impact on us all: consumer culture influences the personalities, the way we live and think. The interesting question she raises (“How to we resist the visual and verbal culture of consumerism?”) is tough to answer and highly subjective. It would be interesting to know what you think the best ways to fight back consumersim could be. Consumerism reduces and simplifies reality into something that can be bought and sold, in other words it commodifies our reality. Being a culture based on repetition, consumerism is like propaganda since by repeating consumeristic messages all the time people are influenced by those messages to the point that they believe in them and think them real.

  58. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    Read Simone’s posting (n. 41) really interesting. Yet, I don’t agree we can’t oppose the power of advertising. As you mentioned, we are literally bombarded by ads and commercials, but why? Isn’t it because people are easily “brainwashed” and go for the products that they saw on TV or in the papers or on hoardings along the main streets? If we all tried to strengthen the awareness of being influenced, then we would oppose it and there are millions of ways of opposing consumerism and its propaganda. As Simone hinted, we should shun big malls and we should spread this “need” among friends and people who share the same worries and principles as ours. We are not alone, there are lots of people who are in tune with us out there. It is a matter of being heard and sharing, and the blog is a great means of doing that. Yet, we can’t be naive and think that in our classes we all share the same views. There will be students of the same age as you that don’t bother going to the shops round the corner and prefer heading to malls where they can have a snack, windowshop at different shops, etc. becuase they think it is more convenient to find everything they need under the same roof. Then there is the excuse that things are supposed to be “cheaper” at malls.

    Dear Jessica (n.43) you are certainly right when you state that our society has turned into a dystopian society (this had been anticipated by Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury, etc.) long time ago. The issue is: can’t we do anything about it? Are we doomed to succumb and become “inhuman” and “inhumane”?

    Dear Valentina (n.45) I like the expression you use “vicious circle” to highlight the power of advertising upon young people who feel the need to belong to a group. As you pointed out however, the belonging to a group deprives most teenagers of their individuality and personality. We all look alike (same clothes, same hairstyles, same words, same thoughts (??? very worrying!!!), sometimes same features if we undergo some kind of aesthetic surgery!). In what way are we different then? Why do you think we need to look alike, behave alike, speak alike, think alike?

    Dear Lorenzo (n. 46) I think that views need to be adapted to our times. Certain views have proven detrimental and this is revealed by the fact that we are undergoing a moment of crisis regardless of having promoted consumerism and globalisation. Perhaps human beings need to learn how to reach “balance”, something extremely difficult for us, since we, as human beings, are divided between the primordial brain and the rational brain, and the former is dominated by instincts, which make us being carried away by a sense of omnipotence and power. You can keep your views, but try to be flexible and read your classmates’ comments. Other poeple’s comments help us question our views, put them under a different perpective. It is just by means of a positive dialogue and exchange of ideas/opinions that we can grow and better ourselves.

    Dear Damiano (n.47) thanks for mentioning some consequences of consumerism (e.g. pollution, etc.)

    Dear Chiara (n.48) you point out important aspects (e.g. too much food bought and eaten), but you sound a bit too pessimistic. It seems that there is no way out, that we are all brainwashed, but then you say “It is very difficult to resist to it, and most of the times we are not aware that we are being brainwashed, especially if we don’t ask ourselves questions, and if we don’t stop for a moment to think of what we are doing” and these are enlightening words, since you point out that it is just by means of thinking that we can oppose propaganda. At school we are trying to make you think and to make you question certain assumptions.

  59. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    Dear Michele (n.51), you seem to say that we are all trapped in the “cage” of consumerism and that we do that to follow the “flock” and to feel part of the same group. But do we really want to look alike? Don’t we all try to add something personal to the same clothes? Think of the rucksucks: they are the same, but you all tend to add different knick-knacks or you write different things on them to make them look different, to make them look yours, so to add individuality to them. Most posts seem to reveal a sense of powerlessness before the force of consumerism. But, would the crushing and belittling force of consumerism exist if people questioned it? Let’s consider fashion: do you realize why it changes so quickly? Of course, to create new urges and new needs in us, so that we buy the latest design (even if the previous pair of shoes is still fine), as Damiano said, we thus create more “waste” and we run the risk of being “smothered” by all the rubbish we are creating. But, where do fashion houses get their latest designs? By you. They pay fashion spotters, who observe young people, they observe they change things in their clothes and then they “reproduce” those things and sell them on the larger marked. THink of ripped clothes. Why should I buy ripped clothes when “ripped” means “worn out”, “old”? Think of the fashion of wearing caps. Why should I wear a cap when it is dark or indoors? Weren’t caps invented to protect us from the sun? If we asked ourselves these questions we would not buy or wear things that make us look ridiculous. As Chiara pointed out, this is what we are missing: asking ourselves questions. And this is what lots of us (teachers) try to do with you at school: let’s discuss about certain issues, let’s share opinions and views, let’s exchange ideas, LET’S THINK.

    Dear Nicola (n.53) you do not see consumerism as a form of propaganda, of danger. Your view is interesting since it is completely different from the opinions expressed by your classmates. I would like you to be more precise and explain in what way you think that consumerism is not a danger at the time being.

    Dear Elena (n.55), you think we are not being controlled by any “tyrant” at the moment and you hope you won’t be living should this ever happen. Well, we should react and respond to any form of subjugation and lack of freedom now if we want to be responsible for future generations. Where would be be, as women, if women before us had not fought for their rights? Rita-Levi Montalcini was not supported by her family when she decided to become a scientist, when she decided to go to university. She decided not to have kids and to get married, because if she had done, she would not have been able to become a scientist. When racial laws forbade her to work as a scientist, she did not give up, and she set up an illegal lab in her room. If we think of ourselves only there won’t be any improvement in our society. We are not passive beings, we are not puppets in the hands of our society, we are our society, we create it and we feed it.