There’s an pandemic engulfing the world right now: the fascination with the world’s demise.
It’s bizarre isn’t it? We are obsessed by the end. This fear, obsession, anxiety—whatever you want to call it—toward the apocalypse has become a heavily evoked theme in popular mainstream entertainment. Oblivion, After Earth, World War Z, Pacific Rim, and the dystopian-futurism film, Elysium, are just a few of the titles released this year that toy with our emotions and leave us wondering, what if?
Horror and science fiction have always had the ability to reflect societal concerns by focusing on what we repressively fear. The massive success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, and the release of many other zombie titles like War World Z, prove that apocalyptic figures like the zombie have significantly positioned themselves into mainstream culture. But why?
In a world of increasing globalization and technological interconnectedness, borders seem to be dissolving. In a way, we are living our own version of the zombie apocalypse. The world appears to be shrinking, and with that comes many uncertainties.
Maybe the reason zombie stories appeal to us so much is because they act as metaphors for our deep-seeded societal phobias about our inability to control and secure space.
Isn’t the zombie a monstrous metaphor for terrorism, societal and economic collapse, disease, and even immigration? The overwhelming, invasive, and consuming nature of the zombie mirrors our national anxieties about our inability to create a fortified space against the perceived threatening forces of globalization. Zombies, aliens, natural disasters, apocalyptic plagues and infections are all manifestations of our own fears toward the unknown, political instability, the future, science, and even death.
Maybe. Maybe not. I’m really just spitballin’ here.
On the other hand, our apocalyptic obsession might stem from the idea that we are just unconsciously nostalgic for a simpler time. A fresh start. We crave a world where we don’t have to pay bills, go to work, do laundry, update Facebook, or tolerate the chaos of our day-to-day lives. Is the apocalypse our nightmare, or our escape from complex, stressful, and technology-filled lives?
I don’t know, but either way, Hollywood knows we love watching the world get destroyed.
While fixating on the apocalypse isn’t something new (Y2K? Mayan Calendar?), laughing at it seems to be the newest trend picked up by Hollywood. 2013 has introduced a number of movie titles that have begun to create a counter-trend in the genre: apocalyptic comedies with a fresh, light-hearted approach to the end of the world.
This is the End, The World’s End, Rapture-Palooza, It’s a Disaster, and the past releases of titles such Warm Bodies and Zombieland, have provided us with a collective sigh of relief toward the thought of death. And while we might not know when our world will end, we’re preparing ourselves in style.
In the meantime, let’s sit back, pop some corn, open up a bag of Sour Patch Kids, and watch life crumble around us from the safety of our underground bunker. Don’t let the air-tight metal door hit you on the way out!