The Lottery (reality) vs The Lottery (fiction)

In this article about the many themes in The Island, the author raises an interesting point of mass media being used as a way to control the masses. In fact, the lottery in the movie is very similar to the lottery in real life. One person is chosen to rise above the rest of the masses, to ascend to some sort of paradise (the island/rich-people-land). There is no apparent skill needed to win either of these lotteries and it’s “random.” What the winner does not know is that winning the lottery comes with a price. In the movies case, the price is a person’s life. In reality, the price is a hefty dose of taxes, and often bankruptcy (because the quick ascension to riches doesn’t also teach you how to handle money).

But what really impressed me is the movie’s ability to highlight the way in which the lottery manipulates the masses into perpetual false hope. In the movie, because there is a weekly winner, all of the clones feel like they are just weeks away from winning the lottery and escaping from their dull lives to the island. Only the older resident, Gandu Three Echo, seems to have become jaded and critical of the lottery system. And even though he scoffs at the winners and the system, he still wants to win and travel to “The Island.” It shows that even though the system plays on people’s feelings and seems to be dishonest about its inner workings, the prize is too great to rebel against. The fear of exclusion from an unimaginable reward is larger than any personal ambition to try to change the system.

By making the reward greater than the risk, the government (or in the movie’s case, the controllers of the compound) ensures an orderly mass that isn’t necessarily unaware, but complacent–complacent to the control that is held over their daily lives in areas such as privacy, health, and social conventions.



~ by nerdcamper on February 9, 2014.

One Response to “The Lottery (reality) vs The Lottery (fiction)”

  1. I love the way you categorize the idea of the reward being more than the risk. As humans I believe we are constantly involved in cost/benefit analyses and the simple proposition of a massive reward is blinding. For example, any form of gambling: people will lose their life’s savings for the chance to strike it big.

    What does that say about us? It is interesting considering a biological perspective: if we took a risk running across the planes of Africa thousands of years ago, and the risk paid off, it would be considered an evolutionary success. Maybe that’s why we view any such chance of success worth massive risk. Maybe we’re not risk averse creatures at all, but seek it out in ever facet.

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