A Dystopian Vision: Tribes of Europa

I watched Star Wars literally dozens of times as a kid in the 1970s, and, even now, can’t resist a good dystopian sci fi series. I just finished watching Tribes of Europa on Netflix. Many thoughts. I was most definitely hooked, it’s dark, post-apocalyptic, and beautifully produced. I’m wrestling with the idea that Europe regresses to “tribes,” that somehow there was an ideal of integral European civilization that was lost, that the EU might have been the high point of modern attainment somehow. I don’t want to give anything away, spoiler-wise, but there are some Orientalist vibes as well that leave me a bit uneasy. At the same time, the scenario of radically different collective pathways opening up in the absence of a coherent, technologically driven mass civilization is very interesting. Anyone else seen it yet? Here’s the trailer.

I’ve been thinking more about all this, having fallen now into another dystopian series on Netflix, this one present-day and pandemic-related, a Russian production called To the Lake. Disturbing enough to make it a little hard to fall asleep last night. My spouse asked me this morning why I tend to watch such dark shows, whether it’s to feel better about how things are going now. I’ve been thinking about that question and I think it’s something slightly different–I think I delve into dystopian visions as a way to become more accepting of the full range of what could be. The anthropologist Anna Tsing has talked about this, about the need to have troubling (and not just hopeful) stories to hear and absorb.