Materialistic Dystopia

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Max Barry's Jennifer Government and William Gibson's Neuromancer each depict a dystopian image of the world. In both novels, greed and consumerism become the vice that plagues humanity. Materialism is no longer abstract, but a way of life in these alternate realities. Corporations maintain control over the products they sell as well as the individuals they solicit to. Characters in each novel become victims of corporate tyrants when production precedes compassion. Jennifer Government and Neuromancer portray mass consumerism and human exploitation resulting in a societal dystopia.

Firstly, both novels portray a current social anxiety of consumerism. The concept of consumerism lends itself to a desire to better society and build the economy. Industrialization provides jobs and products to buy and sell, eventually building a more prosperous society. However, like many seemingly good ideas it has the potential to cause problems. This involves the power commercialism has over the masses through use of advertisement propaganda and tactics. Greed becomes a consuming force that strives to gain power and money by any means. Barry and Gibson present a possible future where the idea of accumulation of wealth for both the consumers and corporations has the potential to dominate and even destroy people’s lives.

In Jennifer Government power is in the hands of North American corporations. The majority of the world including North and South America, Russia, Australia, and portions of South Asia and Africa, have become part of the United States. Companies such as Nike, McDonald’s, Pepsi and so forth own everything that is not privatized, such as schools and hospitals. The police and government have become privatized and do not provide ai...

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...nsumerism in Barry and Gibson’s worlds is inescapable and humanity is thereby replaceable.

In summation, the free market creates a vicious cycle where people are feeding off one another for superiority. In Jennifer Government and Neuromancer, the mindset of the company becomes that of the people; buying power means societal power. This greed, though profitable, carries itself to a new level; transforming people into the products they buy either through victimization or self-solicitation. In both novels, people live the brand they work for as well as fall victim to corporate tactics. It seems that the social anxiety that Barry and Gibson portray is a very possible result of current consumerism ideals. If left to cultivate, production will become the new governing power, and it is up to each individual to decide whether to purchase a share and sell their soul.
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