Dysfunctional Systems has a very interesting setting to it. Placed in the (likely) far-flung future, members of Earth have taken it upon themselves to monitor other worlds (dubbed “systems”) in order to make sure things don’t get too chaotic and steer the worlds’ growths to be as orderly as possible. These Mediators travel to different worlds and more or less try and solve the immediate problems, sometimes “by whatever means necessary”.
But, let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about Winter instead.
Winter Harrison is the protagonist of Dysfunctional Systems (at least the first episode), a student Mediator that ends up getting caught in a rather nasty situation. Winter’s mindset is a bit odd, though; she barely understands what the word “war” even means, and balks at the down trodden people as if they are simply playing at being poor and overworked. She wonders why people “seemed to pick their outfits from a pile of rags” and why the President of Brighton threatens to launch a weapon at their oppressors because it would hurt people. The whole concept of a world being less than perfectly operated is just a bit above her head, which leads to a slightly condescending attitude to the citizens of other worlds, even if she doesn’t verbalize this attitude.
She is not the only one that thinks like this, though; apparently many of the Mediators hold similar thoughts. Their detached attitudes that a another other world is destroyed is rather unsettling, really. But when you really think about it… these rather off-putting attitudes aren’t too far from what some of our own thought-processes are around these sorts of subjects. In the United States, we only really see news that’s related to our country–whether it’s an address from the President, or of some guy that opened an amazingly unique shop in Minnesota. While us Americans do hear about the major world news (such as the deadly tsunamis), we know little about the plight of others outside our own country.
This isn’t true in every country, of course, but we can easily see how this can be distilled down to an individual level. Many of us have our hobbies, favorite TV shows, and whatever else have you; while we may garner information about subjects that don’t interest us as much, we generally do not care much about them. If someone is following the The Walking Dead and not Game of Thrones, would that person particularly understand the impact of, say, Eddard dying in Game of Thrones? Not really, though it’s likely they had some thoughts about when Jim died in The Walking Dead, whether they liked the character or not.
That’s the key here: Understanding. We know of different situations that are worst than our own, and can even empathize with people within these unfortunate situations, but we don’t really understand what it is that’s the problem unless we go through them (and therefore care about it) ourselves. For example, I personally know how it feels to be living below the poverty line, struggling to make ends meet, but I do not understand the suffering that comes from being homeless and/or jobless, or starving because I didn’t have enough money to buy some food for a few days. While I can sympathize and feel sorry for those in that type of situation, but I cannot truly understand what they’re going through.
It’s the same with Winter, really. She may not sympathize with the people of Brighton, and her thoughts of them seem needlessly ignorant, but the world that she grew up in had none of these issues; in fact, it would seem as if most people of the future Earth that Dysfunctional Systems would never have to come in contact with such issues. It’s only natural that she doesn’t understand why these people seem so downtrodden and desperate, when she comes from a society that’s (at least hinted at ) pretty much perfect.
So, perhaps if you think Winter’s being a little cruel, or harsh, remember that she’s really not that different from us, even if we can (usually) mask it better.