Dystopian Comparisons in Modern Life in the Films The Handmaids Tale, The Kingdom, Babel and Lions for Lambs

Dystopian Comparisons in Modern Life in the Films The Handmaids Tale, The Kingdom, Babel and Lions for Lambs

The films The Handmaids Tale, The Kingdom, Babel, and Lions for Lambs include series of events that would take our society’s selfishness and spoiled mindsets out of their comfort zone and let them understand the reality of life outside the so called “American Dream.” The American people understand the good life and when they face problems or adversity, it has to do with getting a ticket or our girlfriends breaking up with us; but outside the land of the free, there is a world that exists. It is considered the American peoples dystopian world. Compared to the movies, or films mentioned earlier, our world compares and has similarities to the points that the films were describing even though many were drastic and somewhat uncomfortable to view. Although some points were exaggerated, they brought up many issues that our world should be concerned about because the dystopian world presented in the films and our modern world has similarities that discuss issues that are honestly true and present in our society and affect the lives of many people whether they accept it or not. Dystopia is the opposite of our thoughts of a dream world, and our generation deals with this negative energy and propaganda all throughout our very own world we call “home”.

Cameron Clark’s comparison of terrorism, abortion, and the inequality of women from the film, The Handmaid’s Tale
The three main issues from the film The Handmaid’s Tale are terrorism compared to that of the Al- Qaeda in Iraq terrorism, recognition of abortion in the Gilead society compared to the abortion ideas in the United States and why it is acceptable, and how the women were treated in the Gilead country compared to the inequality of the women and people of Saudi Arabia. Terrorism is a major problem in the film The Handmaid’s Tale. The Gilead government took over the country and all of its rights because it took a drastic fall in its society. The women that could not, or did not want to bear children were blamed for the community’s unsuccessfulness (Dir. Schlondorff). In the film, the commander and their wives of the Gilead government overtake the country and displayed terrorism by deporting all of the colored people (anybody, but the Caucasian race) and hung anybody that could not bear children, putting fear into the women who had no choice in their society (The Handmaid’s Tale). In the same way, the Al Qaeda puts fear into the hearts of the Iraqi population by murdering them in brutal ways to stop them from communicating with United States officials. In the online article, “Iraq War and Terrorism in Iraq: Who is Fighting It?” states:
The group has been responsible for a significant number of suicide attacks. It’s practice of killing Iraqis who are seen as American collaborators has served supporters, and many In Iraq see AQI as diluting a primary struggle against foreign (American and Coalition) occupiers. (Zalman)

The Gilead government and the Al Qaeda would agree that fear gets you what you want in their societies or the world we live in. “Courage is not the lack of fear, but the ability to face it” (Lt. John B. Putnam Jr.). The film The Handmaid’s Tale and the powerful Al Qaeda industry in Iraq could come to the agreement that ruling people through fear and terrorism allows them to retrieve their desires of what they want, and even though this issue is deliberately a catastrophe that could be considered a dystopian feature, it is still sadly present in our society today. The film The handmaid’s Tale portrays the view of a dystopian method called abortion. In the film, Offred, a Handmaid, was viewing a young girl named Sharnene tell all the Handmaids in the room that she had an abortion. She was stating that her parents made her annihilate the infant, and that she was distressed because of it. The handmaids were calling her disrespectful names like slut and whore. They screamed these names at her because they were taught by the commanders wives, and aunts that no matter what type of reasoning you have for an abortion, you could be hung and it is against God’s will. They made it clear that there is no tolerance or agreement for abortion. The poor girl was not forgiven for her sin until she burst into tears in front of the handmaids group (Dir. Schlondorff) and exclaimed “ I led them on, I deserve the pain” (Sharnene). In our modern world today, there are people that understand and view abortion as a definite wrong, but not as drastic as the Gilead people did. There are also people out there that think having an abortion has a moral good. In the article, “Abortion is a Moral Good” was written in 2007, describing how abortion is a moral good because women should not have to carry the burden of an unwanted pregnancy (Jill). Jill stated that keeping the pregnancy is up to the individual carrying it:
The right of an individual to make their own choice about whether or not they will offer their body in the support of another organism is a moral good. The individual making a choice which will be most beneficial to them is a moral good, whether that choice is abortion or birth or both (and most women who have abortions, it should be noted, make different choices at different times in their lives). The abortion procedure itself, like most other medical procedures, is a moral good (Jill).

Although the two issues have some similarities when it comes to abortion, the way our society deals with it is different because our country makes it to the point where the United States has a choice (Abortion is a Moral Good). In the movie, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Gilead government allows women to be manipulated and even at times hung for their actions of abortion to their infants (Dr. Schlondorff). Although these points have some similar identities, the Gilead society does not give the option of free-will to abort babies; while our humane society has somewhat of a dystopian feature due to the fact that the United States has established for it to be “okay” to destroy the lives of infants; the future generation.

The final theme from the film, The Handmaid’s Tale is how women were treated unfairly by other high powered woman (Commander’s wives) and the Commanders of the Gilead society. The handmaids were woman that were ran by the commanders wives and had no say about their purpose of life, but are to do what they are told by the personals in charge of them at that moment, or time (Dir. Scholndorff). In the same way, women in Saudi Arabia do not have a say in their culture either. The article, “UK in Saudi Arabia” states: “Outside the family circle sexes do not mix at all. Most Saudi women cover their faces in public. It is illegal for woman to drive” (British Embassy Riyadh). The movie and the article compare to each other because the Gilead Government controls what the woman do and who they have sex with (The Handmaids Tale) while in the article “UK in Saudi Arabia”, it noted how the Saudi Arabia head powers (government) have all these rules and regulations for the people of their country and certain specific ones appointed for the women. Comparing The Handmaids Tale and the article, it is noticeable that the women in both sources do not rise to the non-equality, but rather accept it for what it is. Our country truly does have dystopian features in our world and films out there relate and show comparison to that.
Wakefield Lockhart’s comparison on political agenda with American lives at stake, sense of duty to one’s country and the choice to actively participate to insure the “Good Life” at home.

In the movie, Lions for Lambs (Dir. Robert Redford) Senator Jasper Irving uses the opportunity given to him by an ambitious reporter, to unveil a new strategy by the United States, failing war in Northern Afghanistan. He is using this opportunity to further his political agenda towards his desire to run for President, in a future election. He tells the reporter, Janin Roth (perf.), detailed plans on how, where and when the U.S. is going to implement this new, improved strategy, which will make a marked improvement on the results the U.S. have promised the American people. Presently, the US efforts in Afghanistan have been weak at best. Irving, needs to improve his “approval” rating with his constituents, and is banking on this hour long interview, to super charge his efforts into the White House. Irving knows that loss of life is unavoidable. However, Irving states. “Whatever it takes.” Even Reporter Janin Roth (perf.) is quoted as saying, “It is a lubricant to get him (Irving) into the White House.” In regards to his new proposed strategy, to win in Afghanistan. My comparison is that to the role in the efforts to strengthen and improve the Bush Administration and their approval rating with the American people, post 9/11, when we failed to find the parties responsible for the Terrorist attacks. It has been reported that the original plan of the United States army was to invade Afghanistan on the October of 2001 with the intent to overthrow the Taliban and provide a strategic point to hinder Iran’s efforts in assisting insurgents combating the U.S., in eventual conflict as a result of the initial invasion. After the attacks the U.S. had a legitimate reason to invade and put their plan into motion. In December of 2001, Osama Bin Laden was believed to be hiding in Tora Bora, Afghanistan. At that time the Bush administration had failed to catch him. If he had been captured at that time the war might have well been over, our troops returned home safely. As our presence in Afghanistan continued, the Bush’s administration approval rate quickly declined. In closing on this first point, we invaded a country for no other reason than to have a foothold in an area of the world that dislikes American doctrine so much that they are willing to go to great lengths to have it known.

The movie Lions for Lambs (Dir. Redford) depicts two University students, Arian and Ernest (perf.) who feel compelled to serve their country in the War in Afghanistan. Their Professor Mr. O’Mally (perf.), a former Vietnam Era Army Intel Officer makes them and their fellow classmates think about what they can really do to help themselves in this modern world. While many students are disillusioned with the thought of signing up, these two students’ speech entitled ‘Engagement’, shed light on why people should choose to defend their country in an armed forces, what inspires them to do this and how it provides a foundation to not only become a better individual citizen, but a positive role model for society as a whole. Arian and Ernest (perfs.) want to do more than just live “the American Dream” they feel as if they can serve a better purpose for something bigger then themselves, by going out and fighting for their version by choice. I compare this portion of the movie to Pat Tillman, an All Pro Safety for the NFL Arizona Cardinals, and how his sense of duty and honor drove him to walk away from a very promising football career to enlist, June 2002, in the United States Army, not as a Combat Infantrymen, but a step above to become an Elite Army Ranger. In the New York times article written by, Anahad O'Connor, Aug. 1, 2007, Pat Tillman tells family and friends he enlisted in the army because he was troubled by the recent 9/11 attacks. Today, it is commonly a horrific event that must occur, before people are moved into action, as in Pat Tillman’s experience.

In the movie Lions for Lambs, the disgruntled student Todd Hayes (perf.) asks Professor O’Mally (perf.) “So you think it’s better to have tried and failed than failing to try, right? “ (Site) O’Mally (perf.) states that affirms that this is his belief as with Arian and Ernest (perfs.) and the decision they made to try to make a difference by enlisting the armed forces; fighting for our freedoms and rights that the American people have become so accustomed. The character portrayed by Todd Hayes (perf.) symbolizes an increasingly large portion of American citizens today who do not understand or agree with enlisting, fearing their attempt will end in failure. Professor O’Mally’s character represents the opposing view. He believes it is better to try and fail than to do nothing at all. In present day, there are multitudes that feel this same way. They have chosen to take advantage of the benefits of being a U.S. citizen, without feeling the need to make an ultimate sacrifice that would ensure these benefits were prolonged. The world’s civil unrest and U.S.’s roll in eradicating terrorism play out a profound and disturbing reality before the American people via technology on a daily basis. These depictions of war and violence in our living rooms are often times enough to inspire the average American to engage in keeping our country’s freedoms as opposed to simply observing.

Jonathan Rodriguez’s comparison on Terrorism on Americans outside of US soil, Women’s rights in an Islamic country, and The United States foreign affair policy with the middle east as shown in the film The Kingdom
In The Kingdom (Dir. Berg) there are many gritty and shocking scenes that almost that someone couldn’t fathom being true but in reality the events that happen in this film happen on daily basis. The first scene in The Kingdom is a massacre in which two men steal a car and drive around killing anyone they see in sight. The event caused mass terror in an American housing complex inside the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately events such as this are not just Hollywood fiction. To truly understand why attacks such as this one are all but uncommon, first one must understand where the idea of terrorism in the Middle East comes from. In an article titled “Why Do Radical Muslims Hate America So Much,” The author of the article Michelle A. Vu interviews Jim Denison a pastor who spent thirty years living with and around Muslims and the Islamic Faith. Dennison claims that Muslims feel like their faith has been attacked by the western world and since America supports the Israeli army they feel like they have been attacked by the Americans. Denison is quoted as saying, “The Quran requires Muslims to defend Islam. So if you believe we are attacking Islam then as a Muslim you are required to attack us in defense of your faith” (2011) This is why Radical Muslims commit attacks such as the one on May 12th, 2003 in which 34 people were killed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when a suicide bomber entered a housing complex that houses American and other western citizens. Another attack was on November 9th, 2005 in which three American hotels were attacked by suicide bombers and killed 57 Americans.

The Kingdom also deals with how the Islamic culture views woman and their rights. The film has multiple scenes of women being look down on and not as an equal to men. One scene that really portrays this is when the medical examiner of the FBI team could not touch the bodies that she was supposed to perform an autopsy on. Also during the film the first time the team met the king of the region the and even though the agent was wearing a t-shirt and jeans that was still too revealing and had to be covered up in a robe. Also in the film the agents are all invited to eat dinner with the King of the land but the female in group is not allowed to attend since she is not an equal. In an article titled, Will women be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, Bruce Walker writes about this is a very big reality in most parts of the Middle East especially in the country of Saudi Arabia. According to Walker, “Saudi women are forbidden to drive cars…Women in public according to the strict Islam given by the Saudi government must be fully clothed”(Will Women be Allowed to Drive in Saudi Arabia). Also in the same article Walker talks about other customs in Saudi Arabia that demonstrate women’s rights or lack thereof. “Today no woman can travel, work, marry, divorce, be admitted to a hospital or live alone without permission of a “mahram,” or male relative. The right to beat women — not just wives but sisters and daughters — still remains” (Walker).

America’s foreign policy is also another topic found in The Kingdom. The movie shows how difficult it can be to get clearance to investigate a crime in another country. The teams of FBI agents want to go over to Saudi Arabia to investigate a bombing that killed a fellow agent. Even though an American was killed on Saudi soil due to an act of terrorism, the US government denied the team entry in to the country because they were afraid that sending them in would bring the countries close to war and Saudi Arabia is a major source of oil. In today’s world there is a lot of tension between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Even though there is a lot going on between the two countries according to an CNN report by Caitlin Fitz Gerald the two are close to a new arms agreement. The deal is worth 60 billion dollars and includes, “large package of new fighter jets, upgrades to older jets and a variety of attack helicopters, as well as equipment, weapons, training and support for all systems” (Fitz Gerald). The package is also being expanded to include,” an additional $30 billion to facilitate upgrades to the Saudi Navy” (Fitz Gerald). This deal ensures that America and Saudi Arabia are committed to making relations between the two countries more prosperous.

The Government has the power to change policies and help influence the life of the people. Their ruling and decisions have an effect on the people whether they know it or not. There are many dystopian issues that are current in our society that we live in today. The humane problems in our society include warfare situations, religion difficulties, and how equality is not given to everybody. Throughout this paper there were many issues covered and brought up about how our modern world and a dystopian one compare and contrast. They were broken down in ways for people to understand that the dystopian features are not just in the films displayed like The Handmaid’s Tale, Babel, The Kingdom, and Lion of Lambs, but outside of these movies, there is a world that has many unfortunate issues and it is Earth. These movies displayed problems that were looked as morally wrong, but the sources listed also brought up the idea that our humane world we live is not really what it seems; that even though this is the “Land of Opportunity” or even other countries out there, our modern society is similar, and compares to the lifestyle and way of life that were displayed and represented in the films that were viewed. These are dystopian views that we can alter as a generation and world, but only if the human people would come together as one, and there is no telling how our world would, or could be. “Those who wish to sing, always find a song” (Swedish Proverb).

Works Cited
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Berg, Peter, Dir. The Kingdom. Dir. Peter Berg. Perf. Foxx, Jamie. Universal Pictures , 2007. Film.
Walker, Bruce. "Will Women be Allowed to Drive in Saudi Arabia?." New American. (2011): n. page. Web. 16 Oct. 2011. .
"Terrorist Attacks in the U.S. or Against Americans ."infoplease.com. infoplease, 2011. Web. 16 Oct 2011. .
Gerald, Caitlin. "Time to change U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia."CNN. 28 09 2011: n. page. Web. 16 Oct. 2011. .