Whether it’s a bomb, a storm or even Arnold Schwarzenegger, Americans are infatuated with the end of the world. Is this a cultural phenomenon or is this some sort of subtle collective death wish, which all people embrace? Whatever it is, it’s kinda weird, in an overtly morbid sense.
Nowadays you don’t have to search for too long before you come across some sort of media — from books to TV — that centers around some sort of impending doom that is about to throttle mankind.
There are TV shows that center around families who are holding their breath every day and stockpiling food in bomb shelters just in case the sky opens up and fire rains down. How can people possibly put such weight on their children’s minds, but more importantly, why are they given a TV show?
So far in 2013, the runaway game of the year is a survival game called The Last of Us, which centers on a father and daughter trying to find salvation after the world has ended. The Last of Us sold 1.3 million copies in its first week alone. It sold 3.4 million copies in July and was the fastest-selling PS3 game after three weeks. This is no anomaly. Do a search for post-apocalyptic games and 191 titles will come up in the search results. Clearly there is a widespread demographic, but it isn’t just video games. Search post-apocalyptic films on Wikipedia and you will find 241 movie titles.
Isn’t it peculiar that people, with no more than a gut instinct, go out and buy food to last them through the first months of a post-apocalyptic scenario?
Although it is rampant now, this actually began around 1945. This genre became highly popular and socially charged after World War II when a global catastrophe brought on by nuclear weapons was a daily worry. Think about that for a second. Every day you’re thinking, “Well, this could be it, I could get hit by a fucking bomb.”
Every day you’re thinking, “Well, this could be it, I could get hit by a fucking bomb.”
So now we have come so much further than some big old atomic bombs. We have guns that are on some alien level. We have missiles that don’t even have to be piloted by humans. We have fucked up the earth so bad that even weather patterns are telling us to hit the road.
It is starting to become clear that people have become more attentive to potential disaster because of recent occurrences, but why are we also entertained by it?
Look at the top three domestic films of 2012, Marvel’s The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games. Not to spoil them or anything, but if you haven’t seen them, then tough shit.
The Avengers has aliens that come out of a portal trying to destroy everything. Literally, every-fucking-thing. They are smashing windows, shooting rockets, riding big-ass space slugs and breaking windows. Some rowdy shit.
The Dark Knight Rises? Guy in a mask has some nuclear bomb that is going to kill everyone in Gotham City. Kind of pales in comparison to all the aliens, but the fact remains: the main premise is the imminent destruction of millions of lives.
The Hunger Games everyone and their grandmother has seen, so no need to really say much, but yeah, it’s post-apocalyptic, yada-yada, she’s fighting for, like, food or the ability to not be dead, basically the same thing. The point is that all these films, which garnered $1.5 billion in the United States, center on a mass amount of humanity that is in tremendous peril.
It could just be a coincidence, merely the go-to scenario for that summer of blockbusters. It seems as though it has been building up, though, slowly becoming a more accepted theme. These movies, TV shows, games and books serve as a guide to some people if this were to happen. They may take comfort having seen these scenarios and knowing what to do when the world ends.
Why don’t you close the book, quit the game, change the channel, leave the fucking theater and do your part before it all becomes a reality.