Armageddon? Must be something we want

My family and I went to the theatres to see “The Hobbit” today. (Decent movie…not faithful to the book, but still good. Thought the 3D was worth it.) If you have gone to the movies recently, you know you first have to be assaulted by 10-15 movie trailers for forthcoming movies.

And what is coming soon to a theatre near you? The apocalypse. Armageddon. Zombies. Alien destruction of the world. Post-apocalypse. I kept waiting for a love story. The only one that would qualify was a “zombie falls in love with a girl” flick…and then they try to stop the mass destruction of zombies before said zombies kill remaining humans. Even the kids’ cartoon movie is about alien destruction.

What is the big deal with the “end of the world as we know it” motif? Does it have anything to do with our political mess of the “fiscal cliff” or “debt ceiling”? Or the recent fascination with “end of the world” predictions (whether by Mayan prediction or by stories about close-calls with asteroids)?

As I see it, there are a couple of possibilities for the increase in disaster/Armageddon fascination:

  1. We are trying to work out our sense that the world doesn’t work well anymore (or we just have more evidence available to us absent from previous eras)
  2. We (humanity) recognize there will be an end and this is our way to trivialize our fears (much like we do with a movie like Jaws)
  3. Someone has figured out there is a lot of money to be made with this genre and so we are flooded…next year it might be riches to rags movies.

What reasons can you think of for this fascination with the end of the world?


Filed under Cultural Anthropology, Movies

7 responses to “Armageddon? Must be something we want

  1. Hilariously, we are watching “Armageddon” right now (totally against my will…)

  2. Andrew J. Schmutzer

    I’ve had this growing observation for some time now and I agree, it was all over the previews! In truth, it may be a combination of the points you note, but my sense is that it is raging nihilism now in a global context. I think the reverberations of this are to be found in every discipline (e.g. politics, theology, etc.), and Christian leaders need to speak into society’s moral resignation. While postmodernism is skilled at noting relational inequity and deep ills, it has no mechanism to redeem these ills. What a year to speak HOPE of Christ into this pessimism. Good topic Phil.

  3. It is not only clear to those of us with faith that the world is in dire trouble. Perhaps desensitising us to the end is just Hollywoods way of preparing us for the inevitable and the various ridiculous repercussions are to help combat our natural fear…

  4. Maybe it’s simply that to have a strange new world to set a story in, only the future remains an undiscovered country; and if that country were to be a paradise, who can imagine drama and conflict worthy of such a place?

  5. Armando

    I have heard many sermons preaching “fire insurance” where all you have to do is accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior then when the world as we know it ends you will live happily ever after. Even for the secular person I believe there is an increasing sense that they are chasing after the wrong things and a despair or frustration at their inability to affect real change to this practice. The popularity of the end of the world story may stem from a desire to be relieved of this sense of responsibility for making things different and may be a twinge of suicidal ideation without the guilt of performing the act. The Christian Bible in the New Testament speaks of the righteousness of the servant who is doing the right thing even if the employer is away for an extended period of time. This is hard and is especially hard if you are falling short, know you are falling short but persisting in the pattern. At some point you want your master to come home just so you are set free of the guilt regardless of the consequences. No matter what the scenario, these apocalyptic tales involve either a simplification of life to survival or a total release of any responsibility for the state of affairs. For those who have a sense of mission about their time on this earthly plain, these stories hold little attraction and are in fact an unwelcomed distraction. One man’s opinion.

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