The Tribe (1999-2003): the post-apocalyptic community, youth, science and nostalgia

Tedman, Alison (2018) The Tribe (1999-2003): the post-apocalyptic community, youth, science and nostalgia. In: Imagining the History of the Future: Unsettling Scientific Stories, 27-29 March 2018, University of York.

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This paper conceptualises the combining of post-apocalypse, teen community, science fiction, science and nostalgia in teen drama, The Tribe (1999-2003), positioning the series against later texts. In the speculative near-future of The Tribe, only under-18s survive a virus, living in tribal gangs. The protagonists, the ‘Mall Rats’, colonise and domesticate a shopping mall. The Tribe contains extrapolative tropes: a rapid-aging plotline, a totalitarian cult, and virtual reality. It can be linked to YA dystopias, prefiguring YA’s factions, repurposed buildings and strong females. Yet, it foregrounds soap-opera’s multi-strand narratives, relationships and teen ‘issues’. Within The Tribe’s narrative, science caused disaster, yet becomes communally beneficial. New Age girl Tai San synthesises medicine from plants; Jack constructs a generator and water filtration. A computer savant, Jack echoes digital literacy in the show’s intended demographic. Recent fantasy media has reworked youthful computer geeks. In SyFy’s space opera Dark Matter, (2015- ), warm-hearted ‘Five’ is the sole teenager on space-ship Raza, ‘home’ to an eclectic group. She is uniquely able to access data and the amnesiac crew’s memories. Both texts also combine the futuristic with the vintage. The Tribe’s striking tribal markings reference Native American and 1980s pop; ‘Five’ is distinguished by retro clothes. In 2011 novel Ready Player One, gamer Perzival quests through virtual 1980s media. Tensions between technology and nostalgia, noted elsewhere in SF, are reconfigured in new, youth-oriented contexts. This paper utilises New Media, genre studies, and critical theories to illuminate The Tribe’s ‘unsettling’, at times utopian stories, and its foreshadowing of 21st century texts.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2018 13:55
Last Modified: 11 May 2018 14:51

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