Friday, August 15, 2014

You just know

There are things you just know about yourself, aren’t there? Things you like, things you don’t, and where there’s no compromise between the two. I hate post-apocalyptic movies. All of them.

This wasn’t a realisation I came to easily. I watched “Mad Max” and was entertained, but more often than not, I thought such movies were, at the very best, laughably stupid. My scepticism was launched when I was still young by “Planet of the Apes” and Charlton Heston’s oh-so-very-anguished “damn you all to hell!” I still laugh at that scene.

The problem I have with such plot devices is, lame dialogue and bad acting aside, the utter unbelievability of the genre. Okay, apes taking over requires a very special suspension of disbelief, but what about later, more “realistic” films?

I despise the various “Hunger Games” films because of the utterly and bizarrely stupid idea that a society that survived the ravages of global war would say, “Hey, I know how we can stop war! Let’s have attractive young adults fight to the death instead! Yeah, that’s a GREAT idea!”

I was reminded of all this when I tried to watch such a film with the family. Post-apocalypse scenes of a US city I knew momentarily caught my attention, as they always do, having watched the TV series “Life After People”. But for me, what followed was as empty and stupid as any “Hunger Games” instalment, so I started reading my book instead of watching.

I despise this genre for a simple reason: I don’t, indeed cannot, buy the central premise that we cannot help but not only destroy our civilisation, but also that we cannot rise above the most animalistic tendencies of humans.

I believe that things in the future can be very much better than the present—astonishingly better, in fact. What’s the point of millennia of societal evolution if we are doomed to be destroyed by our basest nature? But, of course, wars are inherently irrational, so what if we DO destroy ourselves? Would we really decide that some pre-civilisation survival contest—attractive young people optional—is the way to prevent global war? Seriously?!

We humans are capable of great things and the most utterly evil things imaginable. I happen to believe that the better angels of our nature will prevail, but if they don’t, we won’t be so stupid as to choose a future that moviemakers like to depict. We’d be better—and smarter—than that.

I’m an optimist, despite it all. And I hate post-apocalyptic movies. That one thing I definitely know about myself.

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

Huh. I tend to be a pessimist - and I saw the 1st Planet of the Apes (co-written by Rod Serling, don'tcha know) at a point that I didn't find our own self-destruction that far-fetched. Given our collective lack of response to economic inequity, climate change, I believe it more now.
Yet I still hate Hunger Games et al. It, and its counterparts, wallows in a nihilism that tends to tick me off.
But where's my Jetson car?