The Postmodern Neurosis of Self-Imposed Dystopia: From K-Drama to Swedish Extreme Metal

Abstract

“Squid Game” – the latest hugely successful representative of the increasingly popular K-Drama – seems to the middle ground between “Hunger Games” and “The Running Man”, but soaked in the ambivalent postmodern discourse present in “The Matrix”, “The Island” or “Truman Show”, displaying the features of a social ambitopia that cinematically metabolizes the unrest, the collective psychosis and the crippling alienation that mark today’s humanity. The same echoes of deeply disturbing adaptive emotional mechanisms, both at individual and societal level, are to be found in the latest album of a Swedish extreme metal band, Zornheym – “The Zornheym Sleep Experiment”. Regarding humans as clueless lab rats, hopelessly and endlessly doomed to aggravate their own obsessions, both “Squid Game” and “The Zornheym Sleep Experiment”, execute an almost psychiatric inquiry into the constant psychological battle between the three elements of Sigmund Freud’s model of the psyche – id, ego and superego – all wrapped in a spiraling loss of control and an erosion of humanity. The present paper aims at highlighting the postmodern evaluation of self-imposed dystopia in the two fictional environments, along the conceptual guidelines shaped by the works of Baudrillard and Jameson, using “The Island” and “Truman Show” as points of reference.

Keywords: dystopia, addiction, psychosis, Big Brother, alienation


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