Why do viewers gravitate towards apocalypse films? — High Berkeley jacket

The “end of the world” is such a well-known trope in 21st century movies and TV shows that it’s become completely normalized. Yet it is so repetitive that it is essential that we ask the question: why does our mainstream media have such a fascination with societal breakdown?

A common subcategory of apocalypse media is a depiction of a post-apocalyptic or dystopian world, meaning that society as we know it has already collapsed and the remaining humans must live in a destroyed existence. or completely reformed. Pre-apocalyptic films, in which the story revolves around characters trying to stop the end of the world or humanity, are even more prevalent. These films have two possible endings: either the protagonists succeed and life goes on as normal, or they fail and viewers get a slow-motion montage of the earth falling apart to a sad slow song or catchy contradictory song.

Some of today’s most popular apocalypse movies and shows are The 100, Dawn, The Walking Dead, Salvation, Don’t look up, The 5th Wave and It is the end. On a larger scale, “doomsday” media is not just about mutant zombies or environmental disasters. In most science fiction or fantasy films, the threat depicted is either the literal end of the world, or consequences so dire that they are equated with the end of the world. The theme of the apocalypse is still present in many media, even if it is not considered a truly apocalyptic story.

So why does our society value doomsday media so much? When it comes to the post-apocalyptic and dystopian subcategory, some think we want to see a post-apocalyptic world where things aren’t so bad on screen, because it often feels like we’re currently living in a pre-apocalyptic reality. With the many threats to our stability as a society – climate change, COVID-19 and war are just a few examples – the possibility of our world as we know it collapsing is something everyone the world thought one way or another. So, it’s heartwarming to see characters running around and living in a reformed, post-apocalypse world. This medium is a way to reassure us that even if all of today’s threats that we worry about occur, we could still be fine, as are the characters we see on TV.

Many directors also use the apocalypse trope as a wake-up call for audiences. They create a film where the world ends because no one saves it, and use the story as a commentary on our world today. Don’t look up is a great example of this; it is a real wake-up call that reminds us to examine our failing collective efforts to address climate change. Often, apocalyptic films include political commentary to help the film’s overall message. Media like this can serve as an example for what could happen if we do nothing about climate change or other problems that we humans have created. The message here is that all will not be well and we will not be well. Movies like this are meant to make viewers uncomfortable with the state of our society. For some people, preparing for the apocalypse is serious, so apocalypse media is the place to go for advice and pointers on how to prepare for zombies, natural disasters, asteroids, robots, or endless wars.

The danger of doomsday TV shows and movies is that they tend to glorify the experience of fighting the apocalypse in ways that are most likely inaccurate. If society collapses in any of the ways these movies predict, it won’t be a thrilling adventure like those in the movies. It will most likely be slow, elongated, and not affect the entire world population at once like it does in the movies. While it’s fun to see something so drastic happen on screen, it needs to be balanced by media that represents what a realistic apocalypse might look like.