Welcome to Crimeopolis: Trinidad’s Dystopian Utopia

Anyone acquainted with dystopian science fiction is familiar with the theme of crime. As the stories usually go, in some near-future basic human decency has severely broken down. This can leave us with societies where crews of psychopathic rebellious youth terrorize the rest of the populace, like A Clockwork Orange. Or we find ourselves in the midst of a crumbling urban community ridden by rampant criminality, as we get in Robocop. The most bleak assessments are those that feature the utter breakdown of civilization, where everyone is left to fend for themselves against leather-clad S&M biker gangs, psychotic rapists and cannibals who’ve learned to hunt in packs. Often, these latter dystopias are based on cities in our present world with a crime-related image, such as John Carpenter’s classic Escape from New York (with all its questionably racially suggestive metaphors) to 2009’s District 9 (equally filled with problematic racial allusions) set in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The one place I would think furthest away from this futurist world of societal blight and crime is Trinidad & Tobago, where I spent the earliest years of my life. But if you’ve visited the island republic any time in the past few years, you quickly learn that crime is the hot topic on everyone’s lips. From relatives to friends, acquaintances and strangers, journalists and government officials, crime is the crisis du jour. Everyone has stories of crime to tell you, each more harrowing than the next. And everyone is worried about where the country–and crime–is headed. A small Eastern Caribbean country often associated with utopian scenes of beaches, Carnival and festivity, is experiencing its own crime-associated dystopian reality.

*disclaimer: these are the observations of an outsider-insider, and are not meant to supplant anyone’s daily lived experiences.

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You Know My Steez – THX 1138

You know what’s great about posting videos to your blog? Very little writing. Following my previous piece deriding uninformed claims that Hip Hop and speculative fiction are somehow averse to each other, I thought it might be good to post some examples showing the best blending of my two favorite artistic expressions–especially those that pull from classic speculative fiction tropes. In this mash up, one of the most phenomenal duos to ever grace the mic and turntables, Gang Starr, meets pre-Star Wars icon George Lucas’s first major film, THX 1138.

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Hunger Games

Finally saw Hunger Games last week, or as I like to call it Lord of the Flies meets Soylent Green. Basic storyline: in a dystopian future, following a fracticious war that almost destroyed humanity, the world is divided into the wealthy victors, and the downtrodden nearly-starved rebels, who are forced to live in impoverished districts according to their usually dangerous occupations (coal miners, etc); as macabre sport and psychological punishment, every year each district is forced to participate in a lottery where two children are selected at random to participate in a survivalist, winner-kill-all, spectator contest called The Hunger Games. I haven’t read Suzanne Collins books, though I’ve been “meaning to get around to it.”

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