Too Close For Comfort: Current Times & The Postapocalypse

FlagI’m gonna take a little respite between End of World Subcatogories (back to that next time!) to ponder something I’ve been stewing on for a bit, particularly since a friend of mine tagged me on this particular tweet:

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Whilst it specifically mentions dystopian fiction (the Societal Breakdown!), I would say I’ve had many more Disturbing Thoughts regarding postapocalyptic and disaster fiction as well since the advent of the wormhole this country seemed to collective fall into on November 8th of last year.

Depending on the day, it feels like we will either explode in some kind of nuclear conflict with North Korea, with all the unhinged tweetings of this creature who is supposed to have the best interests of every American in mind (fat chance) (I still can’t put his name after the word “president”), or plunge headlong into something resembling The Handmaid’s Tale at the hands of our current vice president. And then there is the very real and imminent threat posed by climate change/global warming. You don’t have to be a scientist to believe this…we are rapidly approaching the tipping point of no return.

I used to find this sort of fiction cathartic – not sure I can fully describe why, but it has something to do with “Oh, it’s just fiction – as bad as things might be, we’re not THERE yet”…because I don’t think I’ve ever felt this close to THERE as I have over the past few months. And thus, my interest in this type of story has shifted a little…rather than being as completely cathartic as it was before, I look to these movies, television shows and books as a means of instruction, really. What are these people doing in these simulated situations that I could learn from, in the very real possibility of the Sh*t Hitting The Fan for real.

From Walking Dead, I’ve learned not only how to kill a zombie (it’s gotta be the brain!) but which weapon tends to be better in this type of apocalypse. Guns work, of course, but they’re SO loud!Better to use something like a katana, a crossbow or a barbed wire-covered baseball bat: they’re quieter, and get confiscated less. And that the following skills are better than currency: hunting, farming, healing.

From The Stand, I learned to trust my gut – especially when it comes to my dreams. From The Last Ship, I learned that in an outbreak, one should keep one’s distance from others as much as possible.

From most dystopian fiction, I’ve learned that if something is amiss with the way things are being run, don’t ignore it, don’t go with the flow. Resist early, resist often, enlist like-minded people to your cause and fight tooth and nail to keep the freedoms and benefits you have.

From nearly ALL postapocalyptic fiction, I’ve learned one HUGE fundamental thing: other survivors can be your source of greatest strength and your biggest enemies, because the collapse of civilization brings about all sorts of opportunists who size you up according to what they can take from you. Darwinism at its most base, I suppose.

Oh. And if I start talking about what I’ve learned from speculative, climate-change scenarios, I’m going to start crying.

Would love to hear why this type of fiction appeals to you, and what, if anything, you’ve learned from your experiences of it!

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Too Close For Comfort: Current Times & The Postapocalypse

  1. I was actually thinking something along these lines after the most recent episode of Fear TWD…especially the conversation between Alicia & Jake about whether art still matters. Another topic we need to address now that we have an administration that wants to slash arts funding & all that fun stuff.

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  2. For some reason, I’m able to separate the fantasy of postapoc fiction from the reality of today.

    Do current situations scare me? Not really. It’s utterly and completely out of my hands. I tend to concentrate on the here and now and not getting caught up in the constant state of fear, hate, and panic perpetuated by the media.

    I do what I can in my little corner of the world. Everything else is duck soup.

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    1. You are right, of course – we have no control…and I certainly exorcise my stress demons (yeah – the current situation does make me quite uneasy…particularly as a chick, VP comes into power, and Handmaid’s Tale-type scenario starts to become a clear possibility) by making art, which is very much about doing what you can in the here and now. A constant state of fear and hate isn’t constructive for anyone and I’m already a chronic insomniac without having to pile extra onto that particular wheelbarrow.

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      1. Well, as my wife is fond of saying, “It could be a lot worse.”

        Sure doesn’t feel like it sometimes, but when I really think about it, it’s true.

        Things are going to have become infinitely worse before we have to worry about something along the lines of the fiction we read/watch.

        I only hope that we can all put aside our differences and care for each other. Help each other.

        Because if we can do that, and if these things do come to pass, you’d see a rebellion the likes of which has never been seen before.

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  3. I hope you are right – on both counts! I feel like people have forgotten, collectively, how to put themselves in other people’s shoes and have empathy – we are pretty used to this in the theatre community (putting ourselves in the shoes of others…it’s kind of part of the job!), but in general, there is a disturbing lack of empathy towards others right now. This is how I feel when I watch an episode of The 100: “People NEVER LEARN”.

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