I haven’t read the books. I await the third movie. But so far the message appears good. Spoiler alert…
Future humans are not as pea-brained or primitive or prejudiced as we thought. Future humans (the ones outside Chicago) did not de-evolve into the prejudice-filled faction-based system that we saw in Divergent. They only set up that system as an experiment. And the faction-transcending divergents are the successful outcome of that experiment.
It was kind of weird, wasn’t it? To see some of the futuristic technology alongside a near-caste system of the past. That’s partly why we call it a dystopia I guess.
Not every human in Chicago was primitive or prejudiced or faction-focused of course. Besides the divergents themselves, there were other exemplary humans. And as I wrote in my previous Divergent post, being part of and closely identifying with a group can be a good thing too (see https://parbsanonymous.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/what-the-film-divergent-says-about-individuality-and-post-traumatic-collectives/).
In the movie storyline, apparently there still had been a big war or human tragedy that probably still increased people’s needs for certainty and order (Kruglanski et al., 2009). But these future humans (outside Chicago) did not succumb to those needs by dumbing down their society into deliberate factions.
And these future humans apparently realize (or at least I hope they realize) what psychologists currently know – that you can’t pigeonhole the entirety of someone based on a single personality test (even a futuristically neurochemically sophisticated one). Cool.
Not so cool is that this evolved future humanity put so many people into harm’s way in Chicago. But maybe they had good reason. I await the third movie.
Knowing Hollywood, there’s still probably going to be some intergroup bloody conflict in the third movie. And oh yes, might as well stretch the conflict into a fourth full-length movie. I’m not sure my hope for a more enlightened humanity, even in the fiction of movies, will survive.
Side note: One of the many contributors to human prejudice and aggression is the media – movies and TV shows and video games (e.g., Anderson et al., 2003, 2010; Aronson, 1999) – sorry – I don’t mean to ruin the fun of movie going or virtual gaming. Yes, some movies contribute more to these effects than others (and some movies can accomplish the opposite). Yes, there is that question – does Hollywood just reflect the desires or nature of movie goers or does Hollywood drive that nature? Chicken and the egg. It’s a little of both.
In any case, Tris and Four thus far are symbols of the potential in humans for kindness, courage, love, individuality, and overcoming intergroup prejudice.
Anderson, C. A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L. R., Johnson, J., Linz, D., . . . Wartella, E. (2003). The influence of media violence on youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4, 81-110.
Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., . . . Saleem, M. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in eastern and western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 151-173.
Aronson, E. (1999). The social animal (8th ed.). New York: Worth.
Kruglanski, A. W., Dechesne, M., Orehek, E., & Pierro, A. (2009). Three decades of lay epistemics: The why, how, and who of knowledge formation. European Review of Social Psychology, 20, 146-191.