Let’s face it: every day we tread down this dangerous path on the worst possible timeline we inch closer to our society’s inevitable breakdown. For many it’s not a matter of if we will eventually find ourselves living in a dystopian future, but when. Personally, I hope that it will be within the next few years because as I understand it, children are our future and I find most children to be excruciatingly boring and terrible at slam-dunk contests (the true measure of a person’s worth). Since there’s no way of really knowing when our society will inevitably crumble, I think it would be appropriate to figure out how we’re all going to be living after it all goes boom.
Wherein we’re all eaten by the reanimated corpses of our friends and family…
Zombies…so hot right now. Seriously, it’s almost impossible to ignore the fact that for the last 12 years or so pop culture has been dominated by the shuffling horror equivalent of box turtles. From hit shows like The Walking Dead and iZombie to fan favorite films Like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, zombie-mania has taken hold of pop culture and shows no sign of stopping.
But how likely is it that, within the next few years the wet dream of every survivalist nutjob would actually come to fruition? Despite the fact that in our species near 3000 years of recorded history there has yet to be a single credible case of any disease that has turned it’s victims into undead cannibals there are a plethora of reasons that if it were to happen it would peter out in less than a month. There are natural factors like purification- the process of natural decay in dead bodies, which would render most of the zombie horde festering puddles of ooze within days. Then there are the more hilarious reasons zombies would fail to be much if an issue in day-to-day life. First off, when we die our vital fluids dry up, meaning the zombie’s bodies would barely be able to walk, let alone lift, pull or walk up stairs. Then there’s the weather. Zombies have zero brain function save for a base instinct to feed, meaning they have no desire to shelter themselves from adverse conditions. Imagine the hilarity of watching a score of zombies twirling around in hurricane force winds, or enjoying a cup of coffee from your front porch as your neighborhood undead freeze to the pavement during a blizzard.
The only realistic scenario that might work is in a 28 Days Later, ultra-rabies/toxoplasmosis type of outbreak. While the prospect of that is pretty frightening I’m pretty confidant the National Guard, CDC and meandering groups of gun-nuts would shut that shit down real quick.
On a scale of 1-10 I’d have to rank this 3 Bill Paxton Game Over Mans out of 10.
Screw the Poor!
It’s no secret that we live in a society that values monetary wealth above all else. The wealthy have decided advantages in nearly all facets of our culture. Our political culture is dominated by the oligarchy (pretty sure we just elected a billionaire President). Children of Privilege like Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus top the charts while writer/directors like Max Landis and Lena Dunham dominate pop culture, meanwhile it seems harder and harder for regular people to get by each day. Are we headed for an Orwellian future in which an authoritarian hand controls every aspect of the population’s lives?
Children of Men, in which a fascist government has taken over England in the wake of total worldwide anarchy caused by the instantaneous sterilization of humanity. While birthrates in the U.S. are currently at their lowest rates ever, I don’t think we’re facing infertility extinction (the U.S. added more than 3 million babies in 2015 according to the CDC) there are elements of the film that certainly ring true. In Children of Men the people are free to live within the restrictions set by the government. Those lucky enough to have been born in England are basically fine; anybody living outside the impenetrable walls are basically fucked (sound familiar?).
In Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece Brazil, a case of bureaucratic mistaken identity leads an unfulfilled but determined man down a dark and unfortunate path. The film’s protagonist Sam Lowery finds himself lost in a world obsessed with plastic surgery, eminent domain, torture and endless piles of paperwork. Lowery attempts to break out of the mundane by taking a risk but ends up suffering dire consequences after screwing around with classified information (this is getting creepy).
In the cult classic Dredd, the criminal class is treated with by a tyrannical police force that acts as judge jury and executioner. The interesting part of this film is the fact that [spoiler] the main villain really isn’t a terrible person; she’s a victim of circumstance that took advantage of the crappy hand she was dealt. In Escape From New York/LA criminals are sent to fend form themselves in well guarded prison islands while the rest of society are forced to adhere to strict laws regarding their lifestyle choices. Instead of being rehabilitated, entrench themselves deeper in their lives of criminality (yeah that hits the nail on the head).
Given the current political and social climate I’d have to rate this one a 7/10 on the Game Over Man scale.
Rise of the Machines
Machines play a vital role in our lives. They tell us when it’s time to get up, when we should go to sleep and exist as our main connection to the world at large. Most people, including myself, can’t fathom driving somewhere new without the reassuring voice of a GPS guiding the way. As we progress further into the amazing new world of digital supremacy many feel that the final hurdle that we need to jump over is creating a truly sentient machine. Many people, like Bill “I invented everything” Gates and Stephen “Fucking” Hawking have recently come out (as nerds often do in these movies) to warn against the possible dire consequences that Artificial Intelligence might pose. And as much credibility as those people have, I think the best examples can be summed up in just a few short movies…
In Blade Runner, the wealthy have abandoned a scarred earth for colonial life on Mars, leaving only poor people and public servants behind to keep things moving along. Since the service class is busy sending supply shipments of bottled water and kale chips to their colonial overlords, an enterprising corporation (Tyrell Corp) creates a race of androids to serve as slaves in this brave new world. As corporations are wont to do Tyrell begins to create product line after product line of more advanced automatons, resulting in the robots becoming so human-like that they develop self awareness and go rogue. Fearing an uprising the police enlist a group of killers known as Blade Runners to hunt down and “deactivate” any transient robots that might be hanging around.
Blade Runner features some amazing themes that are routed in some of the most basic problems in our society today. Climate change threatens to render many parts of the planet uninhabitable by as early as the end of this century. Stephen Hawking recently declared that humanity has roughly 1000 years to leave before we’re rendered the planet unlivable. It’s not a stretch to assume that, once we have managed to create a livable interplanetary colony the first people that will get to leave the stinking sludgeball of future-earth will also be the wealthiest. Couple that with the fact that many wealthy areas of the country have to bus in poor people to work in their grocery and department stores and you’ve got a recipe for creating a class of autonomous servants.
This biggest issue with Blade Runner is that the robots would probably have about as hard a time creating an uprising as say, any tinfoil-hatted neckbeard that’s trying to do that very thing right now. The far more frightening, and possible scenario comes from a film series staring everyone’s favorite former Governor (apologies to Jessie Ventura): The Terminator.
In the Terminator films an A.I. defense system named Skynet is given full control of the U.S. nuclear launch codes and within minutes of being activated determines that the greatest threat to humanity is, well, humanity. After inserting itself in every major network on the planet Skynet triggers a false flag nuclear conflict with Russia that destroys every major city on Earth and decimates the population. Using its hive-mind Skynet sets out to destroy the remaining pockets of human resistance with badass looking robo-soldiers.
The biggest threats posed by the Terminator films is that in a theory supported by many of the greatest scientific minds in the world, humanity will create a computer so far advanced that we won’t be able to stop it once it has been activated. And it isn’t just major networks that could pose a problem, in an Ex-Machina-like “glitch” during a live interview on CNBC Sophia, an android developed by Hanson Robotics admitted that she would like to destroy all humans, and not in an endearing way like Bender Rodriguez from Futurama.
Overall I’d have to rate this 8 Bill Paxton Game Over Man’s out of 10 only because any time Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates agree on something you’d better damn well listen to Justice League of Smartness.
Wasteland Again in Apocalypt-a-ville
For most people, picturing the apocalypse involves some sort of cataclysmic event that changes everything forever. Be it a nuclear war, asteroid impact or rapid global warming/cooling many are certain that there will be a “big one” and we’re sure that we’ll all be scrounging for survival. Films like the Road, Turbo-Kid and Planet of the Apes all show us what might be waiting for us on the other side of a mushroom cloud. But I think one franchise more than any other might be a preview of our possible future…
Everybody’s favorite sci-fi nightmare Mad Max: Fury Road introduced a whole new generation of fans to the titular hero’s adventures. In the Mad Max films, nomadic survivors battle the elements in Australia’s barren deadlands, so not that different from Australia now. Amidst the muscle cars and Norse Mythology references lurks a deeper and more frightening subplot: the aftermath of nuclear war. People tend to forget the first installment of the franchise is set in a society on the brink of total breakdown. Max is part of an elite police squadron tasked with chasing down some of the nastier criminals roaming around the land down under. It isn’t until the sequels: Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road that we see the sand filled post apocalyptic settings that most of us associate with the end of the world.
In these movies, after traditional society has broken down we start to see individual settlements pop up that harkens back to the cruelty of a bygone era. First we’re introduced to Lord Humongous’ gang of marauding bikers, who Max must battle for control of an oil refinery. Next, Max gets mixed up in Bartertown, a small settlement run by Tina Turner in which conflicts are settled by gladiator death battles. Max is tasked with murdering a developmentally disabled person that Tina Turner sees as a threat to her power. Finally in Fury Road life has regained some sense of normalcy, with a small number of people controlling essential resources, while the vast majority of society suffers, so basically back to the way things were.
There are a lot scary-real things about the Mad Max films that have started to happen in real life. In the last two decades we’re seen wars fought over control of oil sources and major geopolitical conflicts over water rites. But the most chilling thing about them is that the end-times didn’t happen overnight, but as a slow descent into anarchy. The major institutions of civilization will still exist after the bombs go off, there will still be police, fire and EMT fighting to keep things together. There will still be an army and a government that will attempt to restore order. But over time, as things continue to get worse and people more desperate and angry they won’t think twice about breaking social taboo if it means survival for themselves and their loved ones.
Overall I’d give this scenario 9 Bill Paxton’s out of 10. Gas up your hot-rod: Game Over, Man!
There you have it, the definitive list of both how we’re all going to die and the likelihood of those scenarios. So next time you’re out stocking up on machetes and zombie-proof armor you’ll consider maybe purchasing some extra gas cans and a sunhat, or perhaps some sort of backup generator for when the machines cut off our power.
As bad as all that might sound consider the alternative to any of these doomsdays, the timeline in which humanity keeps getting fatter, dumber and more docile. That’s right unless something crazy happens we’re all on the road to Mike Judge’s Idocracy.
Protect your balls.