Did you ever notice how most dystopian fiction feels so fake? That’s probably because in the last final analysis we know what happens.
Spoiler alert: Good wins.
Somebody should really tell James Cameron that.
Science fiction has dealt with the subject of the dark future almost from the very beginning, and no that doesn’t mean Frankenstein. Get outta here with that pleb-tier analysis. The story of Ragnarok is a dystopian future, as is the Revelation of Saint John and other myths from cultures around the world. The fourth episode in James Cameron’s story of science fiction mockumentary takes the same shallow approach as previous episodes. It seeks to appeal to the popcorn crowd that just wants to be reminded that, when they considering how the world might end from a purely secular standpoint makes, that makes them teh smart.
For the most part, this episode revolves around the same sort of “Boy, people sure are terrible, amirite” approach that the other episodes did. Broken people, broken dreams, I beat that idea to death before, and you already get it, so we’ll move on to some scattered observations.
Briefly, they mention that most post-apocalypse films end with a note of hope. They gnash their teeth when they admit that normal people – the healthy people who pay good money to go to the movies – prefer movies that make them feel good at the end. Most people aren’t sick in the soul, so they get annoyed when story-tellers try to drag them down into the mud. Oh, they’ll spend a little time there as a novelty, but Western Man knows how the story of everything ends, and even if they cannot put it into words, they feel it on a visceral level.
The eggheads in the documentary identify Mad Max: Fury Road as the first film in the franchise that does so, completely forgetting the end of Road Warrior in which the good guys escape with the go-juice, and the end Beyond Thunderdome which ends with lights shining in the night amid the bones of Old Sydney. Whoops.
So the film-makers understand that in most instances, end-of-the-world stories are really civilizational collapse stories that take place at the low point in the cycle of history. They just can’t explicitly state, indeed they chafe at the idea that things always get better, because for them History takes sides, donchy’know? The documentary walks the viewer through the pain they feel at having to share a ray of hope with humanity.
When they discuss Will Smith’s I Am Legend it all gets laid bare. To recap – the story is an inversion of the vampire myth. A favored story among Hollywood types, who by their love of this story display a clear sympathy for the devil. In Wil Smith’s I Am Legend, the last human preys upon the hapless monsters, who just want to be loved and safe from the predations of the horrible, terrible, no-good human scientist. At test screenings, the audiences went ballistic, and the film-makers realized their attempt to paint humanity as unworthy of inheriting the earth, let alone heaven, failed. The people recognized that achievements of beauty and growth are a treasure and those who take this fallen world and make beauty out of it are far superior to the rat-like degenerates huddled in stinking basements. They saw everything they loved mocked, and for once audiences did not fall for the siren song of modern cinema, and when they rebelled and rejected the movie, the money-men listened. The soulsick ground their teeth, took out the poison, and gave America a film that reflects the ultimate triumph of good (America) versus evil (monsters).
All the audiences had to do was stand firm and say, “No!”
There’s a valuable lesson in that.
While not a fan of this documentary series, I’m finding it opening up some very interesting and valuable insights into modern media. It’s inadvertently laying bare some connections that the producers probably don’t want made. This doesn’t seem to be foolishness, but arrogance. They are telling us what they are doing, and smiling all the while, safe in the knowledge that there’s nothing we can do about it. Once more, they give us a reminder that they want us dead, our people enslaved, our children raped and they think it’s funny.
We’ll see who is laughing when their ugly world ends and we can begin the arduous task of rebuilding a better one using their ashes for mortar. We have the stories to inspire us, even if we had to wrest them from Hollywood ourselves.
Speaking of post-apocalyptic stories with an upbeat ending…here’s the kind of story they don’t want you to read. See if you can guess where it takes place.