I recently watched World War Z with Brad Pitt. That sounds weird. I don’t mean that Brad and I were hanging out and then watched World War Z together. I watched the movie all by myself in my office with a bag of potato chips and a can of diet coke, because I gotta watch my line.
It’s quite the motion picture, so if you haven’t seen it yet and you’re into apocalyptic narratives, I suggest you go ahead and proceed to eventually come to the point at which you feel ready to watch it.
There seems to be this trend going on about the apocalypse. Zombies. Pandemics. The end of the world. Global destruction. And the film industry seems to have understood that we crave stories about surviving the end of the world.
Since the beginning of film till the year 2000, about 112 apocalyptic movies have been released. Since the turn of the second millennium, there have been a total of 114 apocalyptic movies. That means in 14 years, we’ve created more apocalyptic movies than in the past 60. Of course there are more end-of-the-world movies, though. I haven’t mentioned the dystopian movies (Equilibrium), the post-apocalyptic movies (The Hunger Games), and all the terrible and amazing zombie movies, or the immensely popular television series The Walking Dead.
But why do we love it so much?
British philosopher and pipe-smoker Jonathan E. Mule recently ventured to state that, “Apocalyptic movies carry a certain sense of a semi-irrational yet eerily realistic possibility of such events happening in our lifetime.” Upon asking whether the attraction to such movies has a cultural aspect, Mule said, “Of course. Our lives are boring enough, and we can’t afford adventure because we’re too bloody busy working, so we escape into a fictional world where buildings are collapsing and havoc is spreading and zombies are gnawing on your neighbor’s leg.” The best part, Mule said, is that, “we feel like the heroes. We watch a movie where the hero saves the world from its seemingly inevitable death. We love the concept of one hero saving the entire human species.”
We’re looking for some kind of thrill, some kind of intense action. But not like a war where humans are fighting humans. We want to fight zombies and aliens in unity, where all humans come together and battle a common enemy. We want something to attack our home planet, and we want to defend it against all odds and still come out on top. “Such movies cater to our natural survival instincts,” Mule said, “and that’s why I think we can’t help but love it.”
Unfortunately, apocalyptic movies are made for entertainment, not training. And that means even after watching World War Z, we’re still stuck in our dead-end jobs in our meaningless existence. Unless, of course, there is something else out there worth fighting for other than merely our own unimportant lives.