“It’s the End of the World as we know it and I feel fine”: A Discussion of the Apocylpse, the Last Hope for Humanity and the End of Days…

Warning! Warning! This following discussion contains extensive reference to Children of Men, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Day After Tomorrow, The World’s End and War of the Worlds along with other related movies, series and novels, contains minor spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk…

In this day and age, each day feels closer to the end of the world. It’s not just war either that sends us further into the apocalypse either. With the current toxic climate with everyone at their throats, it doesn’t seem like we are getting anywhere in repairing the naturally degrading world we live in. We have been given approximately 100 years until the end of the Earth as we know it and on that note, I wanted to spend the next two weeks to look at how Sci-Fi presents a version of the end of the world, the apocalypse and how society keeps on surviving even in the worst of times. It may not be the end of the world yet but looking at how the world may be potentially destroyed, we may find out a way to preserve it.

This week we look at the prelude to the apocalypse and how we may encounter the end of days. This is often the grimmest form of Science Fiction, looking at what could be, how we would react to the end of the world and ourselves. There’s always a suspicion of how and when our world will end and in the realm of Sci-Fi, it is a great way by looking at our degrade in society. There are many types of apocalypse films that depict these possible end of world realities. We never know what could happen but hey, we can definitely still speculate and try to act against it.

First of these types is the Nuclear War, the form of Apocalypse we always seems like it could be right round the corner ever since the 1960s and the Cold War. It’s a form that’s been greatly debated and even satirised in such as Dr Strangeglove: A really long title about nuclear bombs. ONE bad decision from a leading politician or general and the whole world could become like Hiroshima and Nagaski, a wasteland that you can only visit in a lead padded suits. It presents the fear of how one bad decision can lead to coincequences for large parts or the whole world. Hell, America and Russia still sit on enough Nuclear power to destroy the world 100 times over.

Nuclear warfare shows humanities’ full destructive power, how we can easily destroy our world over a dispute over simple matters of land much like Russia and America in the Cold War. This destructive force is shown in Akira and the Godzilla franchise depicting the powerful force of Nuclear warfare has on the people of the world from a country who has seen this first hand in Hiroshima 1945. The power of a God in the hands of man (or woman) and that is a terrifying thought. But once the bombs go off, there’s usually a terrible aftermath that questions the survival of humanity, (more on that next week).

Another way we may die a horrible death as presented in Science Fiction is the Global Disaster on acid a much more scientific based way of looking at how the world will end. For years we have debated the effects of Climate Change, the process of Carbon Monoxide forming around our atmosphere which keeps air closed within the Earth’s atmosphere. You may also know this as Global Warming but this isn’t really the case, it effects a large variety of the weather on the Earth; ice-caps are melting in the Antartic causing a rise in sea levels, the Winters are getting colder and the Summers are getting warmer. This is taken to the extreme such as in films like The Day After Tomorrow.

The film depicts a reality where the planet is inflicted with the worst type of weather; the ice caps are melting at a unpresidented rate, this causes floods and other disturbances like hail-stones the size of snow balls but once the floods come they also must freeze and a second ice-age occurs. The film isn’t the most scientfically accurate but does paint an overexaggerated spin on what is slowly happening to our Earth as we constantly pollute it overtime. The film is this concept on steroids and it does have a lot of science amougst the over blown action scenes that are actually quite accurate to many ways the weather has changed throughout 2018-19.

Right now as I am writing this, temperatures in America are -40 degrees Celsius and we’re just after the warmest summer in English history. This is a huge coincequence of how we have treated our planet that is slowly creeping up to us and we have no definitive ways to change this without getting rid of all coal power stations or finding a way to remove all the Carbon Monoxide build up from the O-zone layer around the Earth. These are only really preventative methods to try and increase the time we can live on the planet for. We try using electric cars but where do they get their power? Power-stations. We try switching to better methods such as wind-turbines and solar power but they aren’t adaptable enough to power our whole planet. This is by far one of the scariest and most envitable forms of the planet’s slow destruction.

Next we’re talking space and the two forms which is the meteorite and alien invasion, the more fantastical but still seemingly plausible forms of our destruction. These are two forms that present the death from above that we can’t control, something we don’t cause ourselves. One is a natural disaster whilst the other comes through lack of diplomacy and our current ways. They are both an unsuspected cause for our demise that come from the infinite universe in a way that we have only started to get better at predicting through modern technology such as satellites.

The destruction of the Earth by another meteorite is a great form of dramatic symmetry. The idea of the meteorite leading to the death of the Earth acts as a parallel to the original demise of the dinosaurs and other related species. The planet survived, splitting off into another chunk that then supposedly became the moon. Many of the larger dinosaurs would survive the impact but there would be no food or land left to stay alive. Smaller animals only survived to retreat underground and surviving off smaller food which kept them alive to where they evolved into the people we are today.

The idea of the meteorite landing back to Earth is a very plausible occurrence, it represents not just the meaningless of the universe that we can simply just be hit by another big lump of rock from space and wiping clean what is already present on Earth. It is a way to look at how natural selection (the process where the strongest and most adaptable survive) and the way that whilst most of the living things on the planet die, the most adaptable or just luckiest survive. It is a force that can’t easily be stopped, especially by a crew of misfit deep core diggers even if that includes Steve Buscemi, cough Armageddon (1998) cough, (I just detest that movie, God-dammit Michael Bay, fucking amazing Aerosmith song though).

On the other hand, we have the alien invasion sub-genre, the parallel between our fears of terrorism and how we mindlessly destroy other civilizations as we are more powerful or advanced than them (such as the failure that was American Capitalism Vs Communism war in Vietnam). This type of apocalypse shows us how issues such as war and politics have evolved over time such as shown through three main texts made in entirely different times such as War of the Worlds and Invasion from the Body Snatchers. Each of these texts depicts an end of the world scenario but their political and historical reality.

The first of these is War of the Worlds written by H. G. Wells painting a world where the Martians attack our planet Earth. The book and audio drama which caused mass-hysteria in America after people thought it was real, depicts an invasion from above by a superior force of power. They take over the world and the remaining humans are left to regress underground in order to survive much like the smaller dinosaurs did to survive when the meteor originally hit our planet. The book and audio drama depict the Victorian era imperialist agenda against the British colonial power which reigned heavily in that era.

The British had control of many areas across the globe before it slowly crumbled starting with the loss of America in 1812. This is depicted similarly in the War of the Worlds, the Martian power after taking over the planet leading to the remaining humans to retreat, the Martians just die after being infected with human germs. They don’t have the immunity or resources to fight our bacteria and the humans are free much like England just slowly lost their empire as countries became more independent. The movie also changes but somewhat loses its context into a post-911 world setting. The aliens kill in horrifying ways, it depicts individual human death instead of the deaths of a nation and landmarks. It’s more about how we are fighting rather than about the horror of this unstoppable force and how in time it can as easily corrupt and die because of not being able to adapt.

Another very distinct form of this comes with Invasion from the Body Snatchers which instead depicts a world which is slowly invaded from inside, with aliens slowly taking over the world one person at a time. The film franchise depicts a form of Cold War paranoia during the 1960-80s, similarly to the Thing and its original predecessor from the 1950s. It’s the fear of slowly being taken over, not knowing who you can trust and not being to stop it which is the main topic of it and John Carpender’s The Thing.

It’s an apocalypse that we can’t predict, that we can’t easily stop ad we don’t know who to stop which is also shown in the Worlds End by Edgar Wright where a tone has been assimilated by robots with the hope to take over the rest of the world. The film also depicts self-destruction and not being able to get over the past to move on (more on that at a later date, however). It’s about taking away individuality and updates this form of human paranoia to how we fear technology removing who we are as people.

There are many other ways that the Earth could also come to an end which I might as well talk about as I build my nuclear bunker after nuclear weapon treaties were broken whilst writing this (now this post officially dated). We have films like Children of Men, for example, which depicts a unique end of world story in a future where humanity is no longer reproductive. The film centres around this factor which even leads to our main character finding one woman who’s baby is the last hope for humanity’s future. The world is depressing, acting as a modern dystopia, people are dying and the last person born beforehand was 30 years previously (I will talk about this at a later point but great movie).

There’s also the zombie apocalypse such as portrayed well in 28 Days/Weeks Later, Return of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Zombie-land and the Walking Dead comicbook series which depict an unknown virus that infects humanity as we slowly try to fight our way for survival as we battle against the dead. It’s a terrifying mixture of horror and sci-fi and whilst overused, it is a great commentary on the human condition and survival when all seems lost.

The final way I would like to talk about is the natural evolution our apes to become the Earth’s prominent species such as in the iconic Planet of the Apes franchise. Especially in the Dawn/Rise/War trilogy, our dominance over our ape ancestors goes against us. The films depict how we experiment and treat these animals unequally which leads to the smarter breeds to fight us and eventually overtake us. They were abused and now they are going to abuse us. Whilst the protagonist (played by not my favourite,
Charlton Heston,) thinks he’s on another world, he is horrified to find that he is actually on Earth. Somehow apes had become the dominant species and humanity had lost the battle.

In conclusion, there are many types of potential apocalypse as I have mentioned here today, some realistic some more fantastical but all based in some form of Science. With the Earth currently in a case of turbulence, we have to be smarter, better to the people around us and the Earth itself otherwise something similar will happen. We can’t live forever but we can find a way to survive and branch across the universe. Whilst we’ve been given roughly 100 years before the earth is no longer inhabitable, we can work together, we should try to put away our differences but somehow that seems more and more impossible every day. Knowing what could happen, however, is the best way to start but next week, we’ll be looking at the effects and the small ways we can survive after the Earth’s destruction.

And with that final note, that’s plenty from me today, the apocalypse film is a fascinating and dark way to look at how humanity or at least most of it may die. It’s interesting to think and talk about especially in trying times like this. Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic, fellow future thinkers. Are there any concepts I missed or didn’t look at in enough detail? Let me know in the comments below…

Sometime next week, get ready for the end of the world as we know it as we discuss the Post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi with the Mad Max franchise, Old Man Logan, Escape from New York, the Terminator franchise and many more films, books and television series. Stay tuned for that next week, fellow future thinkers and until next time…

Michael McGrady, Signing Off.

2 thoughts on ““It’s the End of the World as we know it and I feel fine”: A Discussion of the Apocylpse, the Last Hope for Humanity and the End of Days…

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