SO George Miller’s oversized, thrill-packed road-warrior epic Mad Max has come out to almost universal acclaim.
It’s yet another epic instalment in the movie category you could tentatively call “Apocalypse Porn”.
And yet, why do we – at least in pampered Western societies – have such an interest in and a yearning for the Apocalypse?
You can see signs of the metaphorical Apocalypse everywhere in pop culture. We eagerly devour TV shows such as The Walking Dead and 12 Monkeys. We flock to the cinemas to see Mad Max. We demand greater and greater threats to the Earth in the Avengers series.
Gloom and doom? Bring it on.
So what are the real reasons behind the West’s desire for the Apocalypse … Now?
Maybe there’s a hidden voice in our overprivileged, overindulged brains that whispers “you’ve got it just too good – it can’t possibly last”. True, we’re holding the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Conquest, War, Famine and Death – at bay … and yet, part of us believes that it’s a temporarily scenario at best.
Perhaps untold eras of war and struggle and fighting have left their mark on our unconscious lizard brains. Maybe the idea that the entire human race could be atomised in an afternoon has never left our subconscious. Or that after the Great Oil Shock of 1973 – when OPEC cut off their supply to the West, creating financial panic and underscoring the West’s crippling reliance on foreign oil – we realised on what precarious foundations our economies and lifestyles were based upon.
Look how good we’ve got it? Bugger that. We all know we’re doomed.
We just don’t know how yet.
Let us count the ways of the impending Apocalypse.
The robots could become self-aware and the Terminators start wiping out humanity en route to killing John Connor. Or an experimental virus will escape from the labs and turn billions into flesh-eating zombies. Maybe aliens who look like us but secretly have lizard faces under their latex masks will descend upon the Earth to feast on our exquisite floppily doppilies.
Climate change could kill us all. We could become Pod People in an Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario.
Or we’ll end up in some Mad Max-style dystopia where violence is the only law and petrol and water the only things of value.
And yet, could there be another dynamic at work? Could it be that we all have a secret desire to be “tested”? That it some way we long to see if we’re made of the right stuff – to see if we are strong enough and brave enough and resourceful enough to survive whatever the world throws at us, be it zombie infestation, robot apocalypse or Mad Max-style Armageddon?
Do we yearn to be heroes and heroines, to be Tom Hardy’s taciturn road warrior or Charlize Theron’s one-armed ass-kicking Valkyrie? Does the appeal of some Darwinian survival of the fittest scenario tickle our fancy? Are we tired of being Shopper-Consumers and long to become Hunter-Gatherers again?
Perhaps we crave the simplicity of the post-apocalypse. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. Fight or die. A simple life of binary choices, far removed from our modern complex existences.
As for me, I say let’s schedule the Apocalypse for Later rather than Now. Let’s leave the evolutionary battles for survival for future generations. There are too many creature comforts I don’t want to give up just yet.
And too many box sets of The Walking Dead still to be rewatched on my large-screen plasma TV.
My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is out now on Amazon.