Why are we obsessed with Wild Wild Country and The Handmaids Tale? Is it the color red? What current undertones in our culture are being massaged by these utopian and dystopian visions?
Brothers Chapman and Maclain Way’s documentary series Wild Wild County about the Rajneeshee cult in 80s Oregon, is the current utopia gone twisted-turned-upside-down that anyone with Netflix access is binging, while wearing monochromatic athleisure wear and retorting “Tough Titties” under their breath. Red makes us crazy! In the other equally binge-worthy television series The Handmaids's Tale, (the 1985 dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood re-imagined in film) modern women are enslaved as pro-creators for the elite, and forced to dress head to toe in red cloaks.
No--but seriously! There are more nuanced and serious reasons these shows are hitting us hard. Pertinent political topics such as voting rights, religious rights, immigration, women's rights, reproduction rights, guns and the separation of child and mother are all set in the unreal and surreal in these shows. What else?
The director of Wild Wild County in an interview in ID magazine gives his take on our fascination:
Why do you think cults are such a big thing in the public imagination right now?
At least with our series, we found that the reception to a lot of our talking heads has been to how intelligent and seemingly normal they are, or how rational they can be, or how self aware they can be. That doesn’t mean that they’re always reliable or unreliable. I think a lot of people have a dismissive reaction towards cults. We were interested in peeling back the layers and exploring what family and community can look like. At some point, the interest in Bhagwan became less important to them than the feeling of community. I think Wild Wild Countryis a story of how that devotion to a community or spiritual master can be manipulated so that people do things they shouldn’t have done. That was something we even heard from members inside the commune itself.
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