Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why You Shouldn't Read/Watch the Divergent Trilogy.

When the Divergent movie came out, my response was a resounding "huh." I'd read the books, and I thought they were pretty generic. I assumed it would go the way of so many adaptations before: it'd get a single movie that flopped and everyone would forget about them. But now it's gotten a second movie. And a third to complete the tri--oh, wait, no, four movies. Because of course they're splitting the last movie into two, as is popular these days.

That's when I said that it's time to speak out against this series. It's obviously more popular than I gave it credit for, and that's a bad thing, because I think the books are generic at best and ideologically dangerous at worst. So here's why you shouldn't support the Divergent Trilogy:

1. The books are generic

Remember how big Twilight got? Remember how that led to a slew of so many imitators that bookstores stocked "paranormal teen romance" sections? YA dystopias are going the same way. The popularity of The Hunger Games has led to an increased demand in the market for dystopias, and the Divergent Trilogy is just another one of these. They, unfortunately, bring very little new to the table. It's hard not to compare them to The Hunger Games, considering the first person present tense female narrator, or the "this is our world's future" premise, or the idea of people being segregated. And in the ways it, uh, "diverges" from similar stories? Genetic engineering? Wow, boring. Soooo boring.

2. The books are not well-written

It takes three books to justify the idea of splitting people into factions based on singular personality traits, and "genetic engineering" isn't really a good answer. It's a thought experiment, but one that is ultimately pointless because it's based on something that would never happen and doesn't even raise many important questions. What exactly is it trying to ask? "What do we become when we invest our identities in a single idea?" That's such an asinine question to ask. It's a flimsy premise that takes three books to get to the point, and by the time they get to the point, readers have already had two books to consider all the plot holes. The characters are largely one-dimensional by the very design of the system. Such mediocrity should not be encouraged with money.

3. It's a blatant cash-in

When the Harry Potter films the last book into two movies, they had six previous installments based on some pretty hefty books. Maybe it was an attempt to milk fans for more money, but it's just as reasonable to believe that it was an attempt to give fans a more complete experience. There were plenty of plot threads that needed wrapping up that had been built up over previous films. Since then, that's become the norm with adaptations, with movies being drug out and split into multiple parts for the sake of squeezing more money from consumers. Breaking Dawn, The Hobbit, Mockingjay...and now Allegiant. This pattern should not be supported. It's simply a way to milk a cash cow until it's dry, and filmmakers are going to continue doing it as long as we keep letting them.

4. They're ideologically dangerous

The Divergent Trilogy is mostly inoffensive for the first two books, but the third book has a lot of issues that seem downright dangerous. The plot of the third book focuses primarily on the people escaping the city discovering that being divergent marks a certain level of genetic healing, meaning those who aren't divergent aren't "healed." The scientists studying the city are considering using some sort of memory serum to reset the experiment, which understandably makes the group of escapees upset. The tone shifts to "how dare they tell us we're broken? We need to revolt!" Allegiant is very obviously aware of marginalized groups, as it includes some openly gay characters and there are themes that parallel the struggles of the gay community, but the context of the parallel and how it is ultimately handled both have major issues. First of all, the scientists are attempting to heal genetic damage, which has done major damage to the world. Most of the series up to this point has been "it's dangerous when you are reduced to just a few corruptible personality traits." But now, it's become the exact opposite: "you are fine as you are and don't let anyone else tell you differently." What happened to the earlier warnings? Have they suddenly become irrelevant? Allegiant completely ignores the possibility that who someone is could possibly be dangerous or harmful.

Secondly, the way the issue is handled is horribly dangerous and downright hypocritical. The issue is solved when the city group uses the memory serum on the scientists before they can use it on the city, and then fill in the gaps in their memories by telling them "this is what we want to do but we're going to pretend it's what you wanted to do." The message this sends is literally "if you think that a change you're attempting to affect is right, you should brainwash the people who disagree into agreeing with you." This is a terrible message to be sending. I don't have to explain why this is a dangerous ideology, do I?

And that's why you should not support the Divergent trilogy. Maybe you're still interested and want to check it out. Whatever. That's fine. I just ask that you borrow or pirate rather than give monetary support. There are certain things that should not be supported. And mediocre, money-grabbing, and ideologically dangerous series like the Divergent trilogy need to be sent messages.

No comments:

Post a Comment