Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Apocalypse - Imaginary Conversations

      Here is another installment of Imaginary Conversations.  I liked writing the last one so much, I did it again.  Enjoy

The Apocalypse

“I think I get why The Purge is popular.”

“Never saw it”

“Well neither did I, but I get the general idea”

“People just run around killing people for a day or something, right?”

“Yeah pretty much.”

“Yeah that sounds pretty dumb from a logistical standpoint.  Like what is to stop people for continuing to murder people when it isn’t this special Purge day”

“Maybe that’s explained in the movie?”

“I dunno they would have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to explain the insanity of that concept”

“I mean I’m pretty sure it is just like a metaphor for our society, like a Twilight Zone episode that you aren’t supposed to actually think that hard about from a realistic standpoint but reflect on its meaning in your life.”


“So yeah it’s like The Purge and Hunger Games and even stuff like Mad Max and The Walking Dead… They are all about these societies that have become fundamentally broken in some way and revealing mankind’s true nature when all these societal strictures are removed.”

“So you are saying that without rule of law or government or after an apocalypse that everyone will straight up become murderers?”

“I mean kind of, yeah”

“Isn’t that pretty misanthropic?  You really think that there isn’t some semblance of morality that will remain even when there are no rules in place?”

“Isn’t that the problem in places like Saharan Africa and Afghanistan, though?  That in nations without strong rule of law, government, money, or resources that people are drawn to things like terrorism and criminality?”

“That feels like a fairly oversimplified view of foreign affairs.  It completely ignores the impact of colonial rule and Western foreign policies that have been the causes of many of these people to become radicalized.”

“I mean granted, I’m not trying to get into a huge debate about foreign policy.  I’m just trying to say that in societies where people feel marginalized, regardless of how that happened, when you are in isolated environments, limited resources that there is something that just breaks down.”

“But there have been nomadic peoples throughout the centuries and only some have become involved in terrorism.”  

“I mean I’m not saying that all nomadic people are terrorists and killers.”

“Aren’t you though?”

“No I’m just saying that like… I dunno… that like the Wild West.  The Wild West is a perfect example.  I think people are drawn to the Wild West, the notion of the Wild West, because in the West there was this remove from government, from those strictures that forced people to behave in a certain way, the rule of law was more lax.  There is a freedom to that and also an essential violence.”

“Ok but I feel like fundamentally you are operating on the assumption that if there was some disaster that broke down our government that automatically it would turn into this shitty Mad Max world instead of people maybe organizing in a different way.  You are saying that constant warfare and murder would be the default.”

“Wouldn’t it be though?  Wouldn’t there always be areas that have more resources, people that have more resources, and other people who are stronger who want to take those resources?  Wouldn’t there always be people who have beliefs that differ from others who would persecute those who disagree?”

“I sort of see your point, but I don’t think that our future looks like The Purge.

“No see you are missing my point.  I’m not saying that our future WILL necessarily look like these post apocalyptic movies, I’m just saying that I think they are so popular because we THINK it will, that a part of us WANTS it to be that way.”

“We want to become murderers running around the desert in linen?”

“I mean, yeah kind of.  Listen, look at Star Trek.  Star Trek came on the air a time when there was great racial conflict, when there were real problems in the world, and it imagined a future where some of those problems went away.  Where money went away and racism went away, and we all just travelled the galaxy looking for aliens and everything was chill. Same deal with Next Gen”

“I think this is kind of ignoring major conflicts within the shows: Klingons, Romulans, The Borg”

“Ok ok I’m not saying that things were perfect, but like the society was fundamentally hopeful you know what I mean?  It imagined a future where we had these technologies, where these problems we have went away.  It was aspirational.”

“Ok that much I do agree with.  There have been a lot of things that came out of those shows too like technology that was developed because somebody saw it on Star Trek.”

“Exactly.  What I’m saying is, that those shows aren’t popular any more, those movies aren’t popular.  I can’t think of a single science fiction movie or show released in the past 15 years where the future was nice, even marginally nice, even the Star Trek reboots.  Everything is always shitty.  We imagine our future as being shitty.  Even in our imaginations, even in our fiction, we can’t imagine a utopia anymore.  It is like as a society we have seen that utopias are bullshit, utopias are lies.  Hunger Games, Divergent, all of that is about revealing the lie of the “utopian” futuristic society. Oh and before you go and mention it, Star Wars takes place a long TIME ago in a galaxy far far away and so can’t properly be considered futuristic.”

“I mean I guess this notion of a pan-national organisation existing on earth let alone among a federation of planets seems kind of absurd when you think about the kinds of rhetoric being leveled toward minorities, immigrants, and refugees that are human.”    

“See!  We fundamentally don’t have hope anymore.  There is something fundamentally broken in our society.  We see it now, the truth is revealed to us now in ways that it wasn’t in the past.  We aren’t as blind to racial discrimination, patriarchy, heteronormativity as we were even 10 years ago.  We see now that as much as we move “forward,” as many rights that are won by people: gay marriage, etc, that ultimately our society isn’t fair, that it is bullshit.  It used to be that people worked toward specific goals: voting rights act, end of segregation, specific things that were measurable and demonstrable.  Now we see these rich white assholes get a slap on the wrist for raping somebody and we know it is horrible and we know it is terrible, and a part of us, a deep and essential part of ourselves knows that even if one police officer is finally convicted of shooting an unarmed black kid or one rich white guy gets a full sentence, that this shittiness JUST IS and it will never go away.”

“That’s fucking depressing.”

“It is majorly depressing!  You can change laws but you can’t change attitudes, you can’t change people from being horrible.  People are voting for Donald fucking Trump. There are people who actually think this horrible fucking shit for brains dickbag is the best and brightest to lead our nation.  We are never going to travel the stars.  If an alien race comes down and tests us all Day the Earth Stood Still style we would never fucking pass.  We are horrible.  I’m not saying that everybody in the world is horrible, but when this is our society, when these are people who lead us saying horrible shit, when our newspapers side with rapists and killers as long as they are white when our society makes it so difficult for people of color to make it, when people are dying from lack of food in our own country during an upturn in the economy, don’t you think that all it would take would be one major drought and food shortage to turn Trump into Immortan Joe and have roving bands of war boys riding around the streets with “Make America Great Again” emblazoned on the side of their shiny and chrome Jeeps as they shoot people?”

“Yikes, I think you are kind of being reductionist again.  Not everybody who votes for Trump would roam around the streets shooting people from the top of Jeeps.”

“Hashtag not all warboys”

“Har Har, but no I mean that is never going to happen.”

“It doesn’t have to happen, aren’t you thinking about it?”

“Sure I’m thinking about it now you mentioned it.”

“And sometimes when you are watching TV, when you are watching about all this horrible bullshit going on, when you see the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and our society getting less equal instead of more, doesn’t a little part of yourself imagine a day when people finally break out the pitchforks and the guillotine and you go all Madame DeFarge on Donald Trump.”

“No, I can honestly say that I have never thought about going Madame DeFarge on Donald Trump.”

“Really, you have NEVER thought about going Madame DeFarge on Donald Trump, not once?”

“I am not a violent person, that is not in my nature, I don’t automatically think of freaking beheading people that I disagree with.

“So you can’t imagine a world where Donald Trump becomes president and rounds up people and gets rid of all the hard fought for liberties we have gained and puts himself on all of our money.  You can’t imagine a world where schools have pictures of Donald Trump in every classroom and little kids have to say the pledge to a picture of Donald Trump and the White House is painted gold to be more classy?”

“No I can’t imagine Donald Trump winning the presidency at all given the demographics of our nation, I don’t think it would ever happen.”

“Ah see so now you are just being naive.  So imagine it.  Imagine President Trump.  Imagine that Donald Trump is your president and he is horrible.  He is worse than George W Bush.  He is the next Hitler.”

“I really hate this oversimplification that Trump is Hitler 2.0”

“I’m not saying he necessarily is only that he has the potential.  Can’t you imagine that future?  Can you honestly tell me if that is the future that you wouldn’t be a part of the secret underground resistance movement that carries out clandestine raids on Trump SS and work with your fellow freedom fighters to liberate wrongfully imprisoned Muslims who have been rounded up?  Even to plot his assassination?”

“Fine fine, if Trump becomes Hitler 2.0 I would become a freedom fighter or whatever.”

“Congrats you are now on the no fly list.”

“God dammit”

“Ok but real talk.  What can you imagine being the more likely scenario now that this is all laid out on the table?  Can you imagine a bright and shiny sci fi future from Star Trek or can you imagine Mad Max?  What seems the more likely prospect?”

“Fine I guess the Mad Max.  But I still don’t think Mad Max is our future.  I still don’t think the apocalypse is coming.  I still fundamentally believe that while we bitch and moan about things that there will never actually be this big violent revolution or upheaval that you are talking about.  We aren’t going to have some kind of coup and the government isn’t going to come falling down.”

“I never said it was GOING to happen necessarily only that's all we can see right now.  Right now it is very hard for us to see hope.”

“But going back to what you were saying, I mean that is the same kind of reasoning that is telling actual liberals that they should hope for a Trump victory so that the revolution actually comes.”

“That is exactly what I am saying.  Exactly.  There is this part of people, in some people stronger than others, that does fundamentally want violent upheaval.  Things like The Hunger Games and The Purge play on our fears of the future, but simultaneously our desires.  No rules, no repercussions. Everyone is a hero in their imagination.  I would never hope for a Trump presidency because I don’t want to live in that shitty world, but you have to admit that the same impetus to give Trump the presidency on purpose to take down the system is deeply rooted in our feeling of hopelessness and anger at a status quo that will never be changed.  We see our climate being destroyed, we see assholes remain in power, we see things staying the same and we are pissed off.  We feel like there is nothing we can do. So we imagine this future where a ragtag group of scrappy freedom fighters, ourselves included, runs around saving the day and killing the bad rich people and gaining control over our lives again.”

“So what is the solution then?  What can we do to have a more hopeful future?”

“Shit I don’t know.  I just said I get why The Purge is popular.  I’m not a fucking politician I don’t have the slightest idea what we are supposed to do.”

“How can you say that you have no ideas after laying out this future that is so miserable?”

“Like I said, I just see it.  I get it.  I don’t know what to do.  If I knew what to do I would be in politics.”

“Shit, now I’m just depressed thinking about a crappy future”




“Have you seen X-Men: Apocalypse yet?”


“You wanna watch?”

“Neh.  I heard it was pretty lousy.”

“You wanna watch Force Awakens on Blu Ray again”

“Kinda, yeah.”

“We could make it a drinking game.  Take a shot every time BB-8 bloops”

“I’m pretty sure we would get alcohol poisoning”

“We can figure something else out.”

“Let’s do it”

“Of course there is the counter to the whole post Apocalyptic movie thing.”



“Oh yeah escapism is the best.  Escapism is pretty much the only way I can make it through the day.”

"I hear ya"  

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