THE AGE OF TRASH

The Brazilian TV series 3% is a wonderful science fiction transposition of the logic of the Wasteocene. In the not too distant future, Brazilian society appears divided between a poor and devastated “hinterland” and a utopian and almost heavenly island, called the “off-shore” in the series. Technology is the main dividing factor between the two worlds: while the offshore is full of all kinds of futuristic gadgets, the hinterland has the appearance of a giant favela, where people survive on leftovers. 3% represents the contrast between clean and modern on the one hand and dirty and obsolete on the other. If the guiding principle of offshore is science, DIY seems to be the most important knowledge inland: being able to reuse / reinvent what has been discarded is a crucial skill for those forced to live in a landfill. social and material. So far, the series is not too different from other post-apocalyptic tales; perhaps it is only more explicit in its representation of socio-ecological relationships based on waste. 3% becomes more unique and interesting when explaining the procedures that select those who can move to the island. Using science fiction to describe the neoliberal creed of competition and meritocracy, the authors imagine that every year all citizens who turn 20 can participate in a complex and manipulative series of tests, “the Process”, through which some will be selected. and moved offshore. From the perspective of the Wasteocene, the Process is a key device, because it creatively illustrates, albeit quite realistic, the internalization of wasting relationships that reproduce waste people and places. In this sci-fi dystopia, there is even a sort of religious cult of the Process, which makes all individuals in the hinterland completely “governed” and obedient to the logic of injustice that separates those who deserve more from those who are discarded. At the beginning of the third season, Michele, one of the leaders of the rebellion against the system, openly declares that for the rich who live offshore the rest of the population is simply waste. Violent repression is a key tool in 3% as it is in the Wasteocene: people do not easily accept being treated as waste and forced to live in socio-ecological landfills. Nonetheless, epistemic and cultural repression is also an important tool to keep the system running. In this sense, the idea of ​​the Process is extremely powerful, because it involves all the arsenal of neoliberal lies about deserving “a better life” thanks to one’s skills and hard work. As Bauman (2008, p. 158) argued, this discourse of merit assumes that those living in the global socio-ecological dump are victims not of injustice but of their own inability to build a better life. The Wasteocene is not so much about the rubble of the hinterland, to follow 3%, but rather the extent to which the rubble is the by-product of unjust socio-ecological relations but normalized by an almost religious celebration. At some point in the series, it becomes clear that the devastation of the hinterland is the direct consequence of the prosperity of the offshore. After all, every paradise needs a hell so much that its own is created.

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