By Suleega Aweys
The classic story of Robin hood is a story about classism with Robin Hood stealing from the greedy rich to give to the downtrodden peasants. The story has been around for centuries with each retelling adding new characters or settings. Almost every adaption has been set in medieval times with peasants, nobles and royals.
However, for HOOD we chose to set it in modern times in an alternative world where magic exists, technology is similar to our own, and climate change has already caused catastrophic food shortages and social upheaval. The theme of climate change; a pressing issue of today is at the forefront of the story of HOOD. Its long-lasting effects on the world result in massive wealth disparity. (Check out next week’s post to find out more about climate change in the World of HOOD.)
Giving A Voice To The Voiceless
Previous adaptations have mainly focused on the adventures of Robin Hood as a saviour to the peasantry and an answer to their problems. But for HOOD, the poor play more of an active role in the story and take matters into their own hands. They form a rebellion against the oppressive regime of King john and seek to destroy royal power. Though Robyn has their best interests at heart, she comes from the nobility and it will take time to gain their trust.
Relevant issues like censorship are one of the themes in HOOD. Though the internet exists, the content is highly regulated by The Eye and people posting against the government can be arrested and even sentenced to the gladiator pits. Rebels Will Scarlett and Bucky have their own podcast Outlaw Radio; speaking on the realities and the real truth that you wouldn’t see in the lives of the poor. In our story world, there’s also Nottingham News which is a mouthpiece for the government that continuously discredits the rebellion movement.
Showing these two depictions of world events is important because it highlights the divisiveness of the world an issue in today’s world. Outlaw radio gives a voice to the voiceless and gives some power to the poor. Setting HOOD in modern times was significant to the story to show how technology is used as a tool to control the poor and the narrative.
Inner Circle vs Outer Circle
For HOOD we wanted to highlight the classism in the story with ‘The Wall’, a physical divider between the rich and the poor with the rich inhabiting the Inner Circle and the poor left to fend for themselves in the Outer Circle. Since its construction, the Wall has been a flashpoint of social unrest and often volatile showings of discontent amongst those relegated to a significantly harsher life in the Outer Circle.
Drastic climate change has also led to the wealth disparity in the World Of HOOD with the unequal distribution of food across Nottingham, even though it is primarily produced in the Outer Circle’s facilities. Also, in order to get enough electricity for the city, public gyms are rigged to harness energy when people use exercise machines. But that power is mostly used by the Inner Circle.
Though the technology of this world mirrors our own, access to it is highly divided. Smartphones are very rare in the Outer Circle, for instance, limiting the population’s ability to get any information outside of sanctioned sources. Using a modern setting also allows us to showcase relevant issues like climate change and how it will affect wealth disparity in the future. The rich can insulate themselves from its effects by exploiting the poor citizens of East Mercia. King John and Philippa Murdoch, the Sheriff of Nottingham, know that they won’t be able to save all of the citizens of East Mercia, and they clearly value the rich over the poor with their policies.
Though some other recent shows have also tackled wealth disparity in a fantastical setting, such as Snowpiercer, HOOD paints a picture that is still very much grounded in reality and acts as a more legible warning about the possible shape of the future if we aren’t careful.
What are some other TV shows, movies, and books that tackle the issue of wealth inequality? Do they use technology in interesting ways? Leave us a comment to keep the conversation going!
This is the second post in our Robin Hood for the Modern age blog post series. Read about The Amazing Women in the World of HOOD and our approach to diversity and inclusivity.