There are so many Dystopian sci-fi stories, so many worlds gone wrong or people fleeing for their lives or rebuilding after an apocalypse or stories about the government being taken over by religious zealots who take away people’s rights and freedoms. I can’t think of a single book, movie or TV series that is Utopian. Indeed, I had to do some reach to come up with anything at all.
Is this because the idea of a utopia is just so unfathomable to people that we can’t imagine a world where we have figured out and managed all or most of our major issues with one another? One where we are just going about the business of keeping things running along tickety-boo.
Or is it because there is an inherent lack of conflict in the idea of a Utopian world. And conflict makes good TV, the lack of it not. Like if everything was just fine… If everyone had plenty to eat and somewhere to sleep and someone to love them. If we all had support for our mental or physical concerns, what would we talk about? What would we fight about? What would drive us, if not survival?
These are some of the thoughts and questions behind my new idea for a TV series. I aim to create a world devoid of religious extremism. Where people of different cultures, faiths and skin colours have no problem working and living with one another. Where we take the good, and the best ideas from many cultures to create a new one that is all and none of them at the same time.
Creating a culture that is all it’s own, but without a sense of strong nationalism or ego. An open and accepting group of people, who instead of getting angry at the suggestions of change, they ask questions and seek to understand the person and the request. A people who choose to explore how best to resolve things for the benefit of all, without exclusion.
I’m often told that I’m an idealist, a daydreamer, and that I do too much wishful thinking. That I want things to be a different way then what they are, and that, what I want for the world is just not possible. A lot of us do this, we escape into the world of our favourite fictional characters in order to avoid the horrors of our own life here on earth, today. And yet so little of our fantasy, sci-fi or genre fiction is showing a positive way of life as an option.
I want to offer up my idea of a better way of life. As a fiction and as a solution. One that accepts people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations. One that doesn’t value one person over another based on anything other than their merit for the particular task they aspire to in life.
What if we resolved all the inequalities, the issues, the homelessness, the hunger? What if mentally ill people had really lovely places to live and were well taken care of? What if hospitals were not cold and clinical uncomfortable places but instead they were all like wellness retreats or luxury spas with all of the necessary tools for healing?
What if artists were highly valued, and given privileged positions in society rather than forced to survive paycheck to paycheck until the “make it”? Would their art be less good? Or just different? The story we are told over and over again is that their art would suffer, that the people with real stories to tell got them through adversity. Is this true? Or do we simply not know a better way?
What if monogamy was not considered the only normal or socially acceptable form of relationship? What if we had a more community focused approach to life, relationships and child rearing, instead of the nuclear family? People might still choose to have one sexual partner if that worked for them. But this wouldn’t be a choice rather than the norm. People could want and get what they want in relationships, in life, in their career, and not feel threatened by what others want or are getting in their lives.
What if children grew up without any bias towards a particular calling over another. What if there was no greater value placed on one career versus another. If there were no more respect given to the “job well done” of a surgeon, lawyer or physicist than was given a cleaner, kindergarten teacher, farmer or plumber. What if we saw all of these professions as equally important to the smooth and pleasant workability of our world and paid and praised them all accordingly?
What if the only thing that determined if you were going to be one thing versus another was, skill, practice, personal interest and natural talent for that thing? Not how much money your family had to send you to school. No pressure to be something that was going to provide for your family who sacrificed everything to send you to school. What if money was not an issue, because all work would provide you with enough to get by comfortably.
And I don’t mean that we couldn’t still value things or people who are truly extraordinary. I guess I just mean that we don’t need to undervalue the people who are just people and doing things that the community needs someone to do.
What if every person no matter what they do was assigned a really nice place to live that was one hundred percent up to code in every way. They could decorate it however they pleased and could afford to do so with creativity and style as well as functionality? What if everyone could afford to eat healthy and delicious food every day. What if we managed to trade in a way that had everyone fed and happy?
What if everyone only worked an 8 hour day or less, no overtime (except in extreme circumstances – a complicated surgery that cannot be ended prematurely). Imagine you don’t have to worry about the money it costs to take an extra day to get something done. Instead you value getting it done right and having a healthy work life balance.
What about people not having more children than they can support, but also not struggle to support them if they did choose to have more children than most? Not feeling like they have to have that many children because of lack of access to proper education, reproductive health and family planning.
What if they didn’t need to have enough kids to work the farm so that their family could stay alive? What if children didn’t ever have to work until they became teenagers and were learning responsibility and independence? What if multiple families could live together and run a farm together, raise their children together? Everyone sharing childcare responsibilities with the community?
What if city people lived in really cool and funky buildings that had plenty of outdoor space for lounging and entertaining with friends and family. There could be some people in the building who work within the home environment. Maybe some stay at home parents who would take care of the young children in the community together, but never feel they were alone all day with no adults to talk to because they would work together and the children could all play together.
Maybe some people would run small residential gardens on the roughtop that could keep everyone in the building fed for the most part without needing to go to the supermarket for everything. Greenhouses on the rough could be growing tomatoes and fruits out of season for winter climates like we have in Canada.
I don’t see why this shouldn’t be possible now with the technology, intelligence, manpower, science, and resources that we have today. If we stopped worrying about money and the economy, what could be possible? What if people’s choices were less about survival and more about preference, beauty, creativity, joy, love and what works best for themselves, their communities and the world?
We could have this utopia. I believe we could. I hope we will make it happen one day. And I like the idea of creating a show as a way of offering up the idea to the world for consideration. Many might say, that’s communism and we know that doesn’t work. Perhaps it was just a failed attempt at it. Perhaps with certain corrections it could work this time.
Perhaps it could work better in a different place, on a different planet where this new form of civilization didn’t have to contend with all of the problems of the existing power structures, nations and corporations that run the world on Earth. What if we could start over? What if we could build something new, from scratch, in a new home?
Would this make a good show? Would you watch it?