Thinking about the Apocalypse is Counterproductive

At the beginning of the semester, hearing that the theme of our class was going to be the end of the world intrigued and horrified me. Listening to others’ opinions about their imagined apocalypse, their thoughts on what happens after the end and all of the details that accompany this topic immensely interests me, but also makes me cringe. Why do people like talking about the end of the world? To me, the idea of death or the mass ruination of an entire society gives me legitimate anxiety and I just find the whole thing totally unpleasant and unappealing.

So why are we, as a whole, so fascinated with talking about the end? Well, in my opinion, we are obsessed with the end because we fear it. From zombie apocalypses, nuclear warfare, alien invasions, colliding planetary catastrophes and worldwide infertility, to crippling depression, failed marriages and abusive parenthood, a common thread of dreadful, disastrous ideas and events haunt viewers of apocalyptic movies. Each movie utilizes different film shooting, editing and acting techniques to build these dystopic societies’ atrocities that instill dread for a doomed future. I think that we find it so appalling and unbearable that we cannot stop ourselves from obsessively theorizing about how the future looks for mankind and planet Earth. For this reason, I find looking forward to our future, particularly a bleak future, to be extremely counterproductive and disheartening. Why sit and worry or overanalyze about something that may or may not happen when we can be living our lives to the fullest potential?

The one positive side I see in indulging in apocalyptic fictions is that the messages within the films can truly have an impact on the way we live our lives. In our class discussion, we discussed how Wall E might have inspired someone to be conscious of their waste production. Advantageous, Children of Men, Dr. Strangelove, 28 Days Later and Magnolia, angered me at times and sparked a strong desire to fight harder as an advocate for women’s rights, feminism and sexual assault survivors. They are greatly beneficial in the sense that they have the power to alter the way we see the world today, despite some of their outlandish plots, characters and special effects. I guess, too, in case of a future zombie apocalypse we can learn from others’ mistakes (aka Frank in 28 Days Later) in hopes of surviving and thriving again. I am curious to know: do others feel as though thinking of a potentially unrealistic future is counterproductive, helpful, or merely a source of entertainment? Do you think the messages within these movies overrides the morbid and awful nature of their story lines?

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