An now for something completely different, America’s love of post apocalypse stories.
Of recent I have noticed more comments about how the Americans seem to be in love with zombie apocalypse stories and games and this is take as being a indication of just how pessimistic we are in Americas future. To this I say HA!
I shan’t go into the long history of the popularity of apocalyptic literature thru history. Instead I’m just going to look at it’s popularity in the past 68 years an keep mostly to the movies movies as the best (an worst) books were often made into movies.
We just need to go to IMDb and you can find quite a few lists of Nuclear Apocalypse movies starting in the early 50’s. Some of the worst ‘passion pit’ second realers were were SF apocalypse themed. It stay this way till the mid to late 60’s when we started to worry about over population (who can forget “Soylent Green is people!”). This is also when we started to get the first ‘Zombie’ apocalypse stories, but like “The Night of the Living Dead” they often weren’t called zombies.
In the seventies and eighties we also keep having the thymes of nuclear apocalypse but we also see a few where it is just war with the USA loosing to the USSR. We also start seeing more and more ‘dark’ or pessimistic endings. An this is where I think we can see the key to the love of Zombie Apocalypse starts. Almost with out fail most if not all humanity, or at least civilization, is destroyed. An there is nothing that can be done about it.
So now let us consider how many horror movies we’ve seen where the heroes have won and all of sudden, just before or even after the credits a scene flash’s on the screen showing the monster is not really vanquished. Yes, I know it is just a sequel marketing device but it is also a horror movie trope. Evil can never truly be defeated. This is an old, old, old idea in theology, going back to Zoroastrianism if not before. It is also not limited to horror stories, just read 1984 and the perpetual war Oceania is fighting. Lots and lots of dystopian stores are like this too.
In fact, I think that all of the Apocalypse stories are really just theologically based horror stores. In more recent times we have had truly theological apocalypse stores like the “Left Behind” series. Also we are now seeing a lot of what can be called the ‘Sixth Great Extinction Event” apocalypse stories based on global warming. One of the worst was “The Day After Tomorrow” but lets not throw stones.
Now as to just why Americans seem to love apocalypse horror stores I really have no ideas. If you do please share with us, we would love to hear your ideas.