One evening, not so long ago, me and the boyfriend lounged around channel surfing. As we flashed between sitcom repeats up popped Cloverfield and my soul did a little dance of joy. I love this film; in fact I like almost all apocalyptic/alien invasion films.
Which when you sit back (after watching Cloverfield of course, ain’t nothing getting in the way of that) and think about it; is really rather odd.
I must not be alone in liking this genre, because not a year goes by without a film or two of this kind making its debut. We’re only seven months into the year (can you believe it?) and there has been 3 major films of this type so far, that’s roughly one every 2.3 months. So they must be pretty popular, eh.
But why do we all enjoy watching portrayals of everything we know and love being destroyed? What so fascinates us about devolving into an animalistic post-apocalyptic world?
There is no denying that right now the world can seem like a pretty dark place – between terrorism, economic collapse and environmental issues the daily news isn’t likely to cheer you up. One film professor, Jamsheed Akrami, notes that “We live in angst-ridden times, and so the appeal of these movies is further amplified” and suggests (in a much more academic tone) that we like to escape the pressures of modern life by relishing just how much worse it could be. What’s mass unemployment compared to mass cannibalism, after all?
To me, this theory is believable; it is well known that one way to forget your problems is to lose yourself by helping another person with theirs. However, for some gut instinct, I cannot accept that it is it. My life is pretty damn ace at the moment, but I still devoured the plot and visuals of Cloverfield with my normal gusto.
Part of me believes that it stems from boredom. Humans as a species are pretty great, let’s be honest; we’re more advanced than any animal on the planet. We have a mind that loves problems, that loves to be challenged. Which gets us to the nub…
In the 1st world countries or more economically developed countries – however you want to dress it up – what have we got to challenge us?
Yes we may have challenges at work, yet if we lose our job it will be devastating not deadly. We know for the most part the state will help pick us up; we will not starve to death within weeks. We have become like the cat on the phone network ad… top predator, bored and lazy. To quote the advert, I think we want to be more dog.
We want the challenge, the threat, the thrill. Yet we don’t want to risk it all. As such we turn to Hollywood to drive us through the apocalypse, before leaving us safely back on the sofa with no material threat or worry about. The fact we have no real threats, other than each other and the odd disease is amazing. But it leaves me worried about the future, will films be enough forever. What happens when 3d films, are overtaken by the curse of the familiar and the boring? Will we become like the blobs of humans shown on Wall-E, so at ease we are dissatisfied with anything? Where will humanity turn, if nothing is pushing it to make a move?
That is a question I cannot answer. All we can do, is hope that mankind as a whole is self-motivated enough not to sink into the proverbial sofa.