LOVE IT: The Post-Apocalyptic Trend
Six days have passed since the world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012, according to the Mayan calendar…and weirdos. While I’m not interested in a serious discussion of when and why the world will end, I love post apocalyptic stories as entertainment. Seems like appropriate timing to feature a LOVE IT singing the praises of the post-apocalyptic story line that has been appearing in pop culture in recent years.
There are a lot of different theories about why we are so fascinated with the end of civilization. One theory is that it exposes a basic human fear of people or beings who are not like us. In The Passage, the world as we’ve known it has ended due to a military experiment gone awry, which has created a race of vampire-like beings. This book is an epic in the truest sense of the word. It spans over a hundred years, with some significant gaps in time, and features a huge cast of characters. A complicated, compelling, and challenging read. The Stand by Stephen King was apparently a source of inspiration for this book. I personally couldn’t get into the story and never finished it, but if you like Stephen King, that may be another good read.
Another theory is that people are interested in themes of apocalypse because we fear the breakdown of conveniences we’ve come to depend on. No internet, no electricity, no running water, no grocery store. The Road focuses more on that end of the post-apocalyptic trend. Some kind of war incident or environmental disaster has resulted in no plant life being able to grow on Earth, and as panic sets in, civilization breaks down. This book follows a man and his son as they take to the road, searching for food, shelter, and fellow survivors they can trust. Heart-breaking and deeply spooky (I don’t recommend reading alone at night–I learned that the hard way.)
I came late to the The Walking Dead party, but once I saw that first episode, I was a goner. No pun intended. This suspenseful thriller is incredibly compelling as a follows a hodge-podge group of people trying to survive after a zombie virus has infected most of the world. The characters are full realized; the plot intense; the action gory and addicting. Not for the faint of heart…and not for watching while eating pizza, spaghetti, or really anything with red sauce.
For those who like a little more reality with their end of civilization, Doomsday Preppers is a show that follows real-life people as they prepare for the apocalypse. Some are guided by religious beliefs, some fear bird flu will do us all in, some predict an oil crisis that will cripple society. Finding entertainment in this show is a fine line between mocking these individuals for their extreme behaviors (buying an enormous ex-military tanker to outfit as a home on the go; doing practice drills complete with gas masks), and being sincerely interested in a group of people with beliefs that are at such odds with your own.
The Book of Eli follows one man as he travels westward across a post-nuclear event country, on a mission that is at first unclear, but slowly is revealed (I won’t spoil it for those who may wish to watch it). The United States has become a dystopia, without law and order, and short on food, clean water, and adequate shelter. Many nail-biting scenes, and the setting is nearly colorless–all tans, grays, and blacks. Reviews of this film were mixed, but I personally found it to be beautifully stark and moving.
A film that gained nearly universal critical acclaim was District 9. Not quite an apocalyptic film–there isn’t a breakdown of civilization–but it does show the effect that a perceived catastrophic event–the arrival of aliens on Earth–has on society. And certainly for the aliens who are captured and forced to live in District 9, it is a post-apocalyptic environment. This film very much focuses on the destruction humans cause when they fear those who are different. It’s no mistake that the aliens first land in South Africa, a direct reference to apartheid. A difficult film to watch, but with really important themes.