Why So Apocalyptic?

Ace of Spades has an interesting discussion on it here: Blame it on Obama!

Now that I have the DHS’ attention, (Which would not be the 1st time with one of my blogs. (*cough I dared mention Tea Party positively. Guess who visited the next day? cough*) let me explain: Hollywood follows the angst of the age. This ought to be axiomatic. Patriotic war films played on the fears of the enemy. Then the revisionist ones turned on our own fears of how our military was misused (Platoon, BlackHawk Down.) Westerns did the same with antiheroes becoming the “We’ll take ours” replacements for the libertarian heroes of another age. And John Wayne himself played on both sides of that divide. As Davey Crockett in the Alamo, and the first, and perhaps greatest of Western anti-heroes Ethan Edwards of The Searchers.

The 70s saw a spate of disaster movies that played on fears of corrupt government, running out of energy, 3 Mile Island to infinity, and so on. And then came Hollywood’s claim that the 80s were all about Greed. Funny, I was a teenager then. I don’t remember it the way Gordon Gecko claimed it. I would say it was the last time you were allowed to feel good about being American. Lots of people now talk about how ‘inevitable’ the fall of the USSR was. But they don’t seem to remember how Academia at the time was certain the Soviets would triumph. Red Dawn anyone?

Now, to the extent that Hollywood can be honest, they’re looking at the nihilism of our age. The disgust at the lack of progress we were promised. The difference between the world we imagined and the world that is. And the era of apocalypse is here. Zombies, “climate,” the Sweet Meteor of Death. We’ve always had some interest in the grinning mask of the Four Horsemen. It’s why the one book of the Bible anyone will stop to listen to interpretation of is Revelation. Why the core of communism is a reinterpretation of Amillenial Christian Eschatology in atheistic trapping. They admit this much. But they won’t touch the why. Because the why gets too close to the truth of the last decade: Big Government hasn’t delivered. It hasn’t overthrown Big Corporations, because they’re the ones who buy the seats at the table. It hasn’t helped the little guy. They’re still just as poor. Real wages have stagnated, so it’s not helping the middle class either. And there’s just not enough justice in Social Justice to justify the triumphalism. Not enough progress in progressivism. It’s been a decade as the hamster on the mill, and things just seem to be slowing down. Even the steampunk I love hints at this. The future we dreamed of isn’t the future we have. We recast it as Jules Verne and HG Wells’ future. But it’s the same fact: We went off track. The golden future was gilded.

The good news is: We aren’t finished yet. As long as we’re alive, there’s time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and right the ship. But first, we need to be willing to say, “We can do for ourselves. Thank you very much,” to our so-called betters who would like to do everything for us. We are not pets. We are people.

In Which The Evil League of Evil

Once Again Demonstrates it Knows More About Sci-Fi than The Grauniad. Well-played, Mr. Knighton.

http://tlknighton.com/?p=6989

Folks, just because you decided to sit down and read the synopses of a dozen movies, does NOT make you the expert on said movies. I’m not as big a fan of some Dystopian Fiction as our Fisker is. I think Divergent is rather poorly done (with flat-out terrible science in the succeeding installments). And I would say that Mockingjay is a desperate attempt to retrieve a Leftist vision from what was (intentionally or not) an anti-Big Government story. With the result that honestly, the third book falls flat, IMHO. It also doesn’t help that Katniss goes from central player to ‘hardly a participant.’ It may be more realistic, but it’s not interesting reading to have everything go on off-stage.

But I do love Blade Runner and would play Shadowrun in about as much time as it would take to grab my books and dice. So I can’t say I hate it, either. Indeed, a number of my stories are post-apocalyptic. Though one is already in the rebirth of civilization. Another is…well, the Guardian would hate it: It’s Weird Western, so it’s post-nuclear/magical apocalyptic Dystopian AND lone gunslinger. But yeah, it has action. 😉 And my Urban Fantasy isn’t post-apoc yet. But if I ever write it far enough, I’ll get there, Kate Daniels style.

The bottom line as to why Dystopias are fun to write is, as Knighton says, it makes the commonplace interesting to write about. “Just another day in the office” is boring as probing for earwax. “Everyday is a struggle for survival” is inherently more interesting. That’s also why The Walking Dead despite its characters being Too Dumb To Live, is better television than 95% of the dross on the little screen. We’re convinced anything can happen. Anything can go wrong. It’s the NASCAR principle brought to scripted TV “Come for the car-crashes, stay for the concessions.”