End of World Subcategories: Campocalypse Now! (The Wacky Apocalypse)

Grumpy cat     Armageddon isn’t supposed to be funny…or is it? The fact that there are enough films, tv and literature to create an actual funny end-of-days category says otherwise. I mean – the end of the world is a pretty big, scary topic, and we, as humans, actively seek catharsis, so it makes pretty good sense this would be a bonafide class of its own.

My earliest example of this was Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which basically begins with the end of the world…and starts out swinging: the Dolphins leave Earth, thanking us for the fish, because they are supreme beings who know the planet is about to be blown up because it’s in the way. And wacky hijinx ensue. Also in the 80’s, we were treated to Night of the Comet, teenagers survive the tail of the comet only to have to deal with all the humans who were turned into zombies because they were outside when the comet hit. There is, of course, a mandatory scene where the teenagers go to the deserted mall and play dress up.

More recently, we’ve gotten the Simon Pegg gems Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End, (and oh my god, I would LOVELOVELOVE to see Simon tackle a mash-up dystopia of Hunger Games, Handmaid’s Tale and Divergent) parodying self-absorbed UK hipsters during a zombie apocalypse and alien invasion respectively (and hilariously) and a rash of really recent television series, such as The Last Man on Earth, No Tomorrow and You, Me and the Apocalypse.

I have to confess: though I think most of these are funny and clever, with the exception of You, Me and the Apocalypse (and maybe because, in addition to its being comedic, it was also EXTREMELY DARK), I haven’t tended to enjoy them as much alpacalypseas their more serious older sisters. What can I say? I’m attracted to dark. I’m attracted to bleak. Mostly because it makes our current life seem less so. But considering the way things are headed in contemporary society, that may just be a matter of time, (nuclear war with North Korea? Coming soon to a west coast near you! Anthrax outbreak via ISIS? Coming soon to New York City! Oh, and let’s not forget the ever-present specter of climate change, likely coming soon, period!) and another thing I enjoy about the more serious shows is they are partly instructional. And of course, there’s the gallows-humor aspect, and always another opportunity to examine ourselves as human beings, and see those things that make humanity great…and not so great. What do you think?
Books: The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaday, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
Movies: Zombieland, This is the End, Dr. Strangelove, Wall-E, Idiocracy
TV: Aftermath, iZombie, Z Nation, The Tribe

End of World Subcategories: The Alien Invasion

Aaaaand we’re back (FINALLY)  headed for alien territory! Since I was 8 years old, I’ve looked to the sta38f9010fcda150f35cbdecf69b32c73e--chrysler-building-flying-saucerrs, hoping the extraterrestrials would come and take me away. But those early spacefolk I was exposed to were pretty benign – we’re talking Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, E.T. and Cocoon – and of course our friends from Mork & Mindy and 3rd Rock from the SunI always loved the idea of the friendly alien who was here to teach us stuff. But this is not what I’m discussing today.

Today, it’s all about the evil aliens that just want to KILL US ALL! Get rid of the human race. Either use up all our resources and move on, or take our planet for themselves as part of our empire and enslave us/get rid of us/harvest us for food. Independence Day, for example, didn’t even want to have anything to do with us – they didn’t bother trying to enslave humanity or harvest us – they just wanted us GONE and exterminated. In Colony, we still haven’t met the actual aliens yet (after 2 seasons), but we know they’re out there and they’re actively using us against each other, thus creating a dystopia amongst humans…because, as in Animal Farm, “some animals are more equal than others”.

The particularly chilling thing about this is that I always assumed humanity would band together to find AGAINST the aliens, but in Colony, the as yet unseen aliens are using us against each other, leveraging creature comforts, hierarchy, etc. And some humans are eating it up and falling right in line. Well, Americans anyway, which shouldn’t be surprising, since all we seem to pace value on anymore is the almighty dollar. So, Colony’s take, while unnerving and disappointing (in the human race – not the series, at least so far), seems pretty realistic. Though of course, there’s also a resistance. V (from the 80’s) was similar.

Defiance did an altogether different thing which was quite interesting: different alien races from a faraway star system were hovering over the earth, seeking refuge. Humans saw the ships, decided the aliens were all evil and shot at the ships. The ships crashed to earth…but unfortunately, they all had different terraforming materials aboard corresponding to their specific planets, which, after falling to earth, completely transformed our planet into something we didn’t recognize. All the surviving aliens had nowhere else to go, so they had to stay, so the remaining survivors of ALL the races were now here in this transformed Earth that kind of belonged to no one and belonged to all, and humans were actually directly responsible for the transformation by shooting at the alien ships. And now on Earth, all the alien races plus humans had to figure out how to get along…no easy task!

What’s interesting about most of these different tales is that usually, there is one, or a faction of “friendly” aliens who actually don’t want to destroy humanity, and who are often great allies in the resistance, though the ally-ship is often fraught with cultural (speciesist?) misunder-standings & miscommunications. My favorite example of this is in Falling Skies, also with several warring species of aliens – there was one ally, Cochise, who was extremely sympathetic to humans and actively tried to persuade his own people to work with them, even confronting is higher-up father about it. He was my alien hero.

But there’s plenty more where that came from! Which books/media regarding alien apocalypse have I left out that should be here?


Books: Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke,  Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher, The Settlers by Jason Gurley, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Movies: Independence Day, War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Oblivion,

TV Series: V, Falling Skies, Colony, Defiance