Themes of “Escape from Spiderhead” in Other Media

While “Escape from Spiderhead” covers numerous themes, the one I want to focus on is the somewhat forceful use of drugs in order to control people (especially emotionally). This idea is reminiscent of a videogame I’ve played called We Happy Few. The game is set in city in a 1960’s dystopian version of Britain where there was a traumatic event, called the “Very Bad Thing”, that occurred from a German invasion and occupation in WW2. In order to prevent citizens from feeling guilt and depression, the government invents a drug called Joy that suppresses all unhappy memories and leaves its user in a chemically-induced euphoria. The citizens are also required to wear white masks that form their faces into permanent smiles. As the Joy depletes, the citizens see the city as it really is after the war: trashed, poor, and ruled by a police state. The police state forces the citizens to take the Joy in order manipulate the population and keep the city in order. Those who don’t take it are either killed, banished, or force-fed the drug. Although “Escape from Spiderhead” is set in a much smaller scale, lab vs city, the implications of their uses are very similar. The Joy from We Happy Few is almost identical to ED556 by putting their users in a euphoric, entranced state.

One thought on “Themes of “Escape from Spiderhead” in Other Media

  1. ELI LAUGER

    Interesting and relevant comparison between Spiderhead and the game. I agree that the use of drugs to emotionally control people is harsh and morally wrong even if in both circumstances, the individuals felt happiness or positive emotions from the drugs (except darkenfloxx). Despite this in both Spiderhead and the video game, individuals ended up unhappy and I think that boils down to inhibiting people’s freedoms and their agency to choose how they act and feel.

    Like

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