One thing about end-of-world theories is that so far, they’ve all been wrong. Nothing from space has hurtled down and blown us up, people have not yet been sucked up into the rapture, we haven’t all been killed off by aliens or a devastating virus with no cure, we haven’t blown each other off the earth in some horrendous war, the Earth has not transformed into a dangerous landscape that is incompatible with life.That’s not to say any of these things aren’t coming, of course. Just that, so far, it hasn’t happened.
Maybe “the end of days” isn’t actually the literal end of the world, but more of an end to the world as we know it (and we feel fine). Perhaps it will be more like what the Mayans believed—they thought that the end of one cycle also meant the beginning of another, albeit different, one. It could mark a significant change in the world around us, a new challenge for the human race. A cataclysmic event does not necessarily mean that we’re all going to die. It’s possible that something could happen that devastates the population but allows us to adapt and overcome.If films and books are to be believed, lots of us are going to die in some horrible way or another, but there will be some tough-as-nails survivors who will manage in a world with few rules and even fewer resources. It’ll have to be a couple and maybe some unrelated kids, naturally, or else the triumphant survival will be short lived.However, it always makes for a good story. Hollywood has come up with a bunch of traumatic and devastating, yet heartwarming and uplifting, scenarios where humans successfully navigate through even the worst situations.
For example, we will find ways to prevent stuff falling from space and destroying the earth, a la films like Deep Impact and Armageddon. While many believe that weapons will be our downfall, in some cases, our warmongering may actually save us;we celebrate tremendous victories in films like Independence Day, War of the Worlds,and Battleship. Other theories involve us being taken down by adevastating plague. But never fear. Some of us, for whatever reason, will be immune, like in I am Legend. That certainly is convenient. And, even though we cannot figure out a cure for things like colds or cancer—stuff that has been around forever—we will be able solve a brand new virus. Then there are the viruses that turn people into zombies or other sorts of bloodthirsty, amoral crazies. That’s a whole other problem. Those poor people have to rid the world of the infectedAND find a cure.Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead, Resident Evil, The Walking Dead, the list goes on and on….
Hollywood knows we aren’t a perfect species. There are plenty of films where we basically destroy ourselves, either by damaging the earth to the point of no return, like in Waterworld andWall-e,or through some sort of societal collapses like in Idiocracyor Mad Max. But the gritty, pretty,intelligent, and determined among us (or the robots) will survive.
So, don’t completely despair. There’s always hope.
What’s your favorite doomsday or dystopian film? What do you think your chances of survival are in these kinds of situations?