Despite the implied critical stance of dystopian narratives, there is a strand of beautiful, aesthetically pleasant dystopias—inherently ambivalent texts that are—both fascinating and horrifying. Drawing from examples in literature and television, this article argues that “beautified dystopias” generate a surplus (or excess) of aesthetic enjoyment, harboring a mystifying potential in tension with the critical-satirical potential of dystopias. In a rereading of Yevgeny Zamyatin's We, this article first examine how D-503's aestheticizing voice—although undeniably constructed for a satirical effect—fosters a degree of fascination toward the dystopian world in excess of Zamyatin's intentions. Second, taking Black Mirror's “Fifteen Million Merits” as an example of contemporary televisual dystopias, this article argues that the supposedly ironic construction of beautified cinematic mise-en-scènes deepens and complicates the underlying ambivalence of “beautified dystopias.” The author's assumption is that this is not an exceptional case, but rather an integral part of the current dystopian structure of feeling.

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