Sunday, 24 January 2016

The End of the World.

The other night I was looking for something to watch on TV and my eyes fell on my Blu-ray of " 2012", which I had bought in a sale some time ago, and for some reason hadn't got around to watching. So I decided to give it a spin and popped it in the machine.

What can I say about 2012 other than its two and half hours of comedy gold. It's about the ancient Mayan prophesy (or something or other) that the world was going to end in 2012, so I guess it was a disaster movie, which isn't one of my favourite genres. Several sequences had me roaring with laughter. One last-second escape followed another last-second escape until the film was just a string of last-second escapes. No car could drive down the road without being chased by a fissure, no plane could fly without having an underground train being thrown at it (just like in Skyfall, it missed) and skyscrapers toppled over like dominoes. Sure the special effects were pretty good, but the whole thing quickly took on the tone of a Warner Brothers cartoon. As millions of people died in numerous horrible ways (most of which we thankfully don't see) our hero, who is a failed writer, lives through a sequence of disasters that would have killed even Batman. What's the Brave New World to do with a failed writer?    

Sadly for the film, we're all still here in 2016. Just about. Does that mean that we, the people who paid good money to see the film, either at the cinema or on DVD or Blu-ray, are eligible for a refund? After all I'm sure many people went to see 2012 in the belief that the prophesy was correct and that it was all going to happen; if not exactly in the same way that it unfolds on screen. I'm sure others could sue for distress, for making us believe that was world was going to end for real when there was nothing to get worried about.

But if watching "2012" did anything, it got me thinking about how much us humans enjoy predicting and thinking about the end of the world.

Honestly, we're obsessed with it. We actually enjoy it, in some obscene way. In fact I would go further and say we’re looking forward to it.

For example, almost every day there's a TV program about, well, the end of the world, playing on one station or another, with our extinction caused by...

Bird flu.
Super volcanoes.
Global warming.
Third world war.
The Wrath of God (caused by His/Hers/Its disapproval of, well, whatever it is you don't like).
The zombie apocalypse.
Cats becoming intelligent.

The list goes on and on.

Of course one day the world will actually end – everything comes to an end, eventually -- but be it tomorrow or in several million years from now, I bet you that there will be someone there saying, "I told you so" with a big grin on his smug face as the world burns.

So why are we looking forward to the end of the world so much? Why do we enjoy the anticipation? I guess one reason would be because we dislike each other so much. After all "they" are greedy, lazy, stupid, have a different skin colour, different religion, more/less money and have generally lousy hygiene. We're more than happy to see "them" get their comeuppance, forgetting that we will get our comeuppance along with them, but we're willing to forget all that. For many people the end of the world is selective, and we're not the ones being selected.

Another possibility is that we enjoy the fear, like when we ride on a rollercoaster, or see a horror movie, or takes part in an extreme sport. In a sense we know the world isn't going to end tomorrow, but we like pretending -- when we hear that a meteorite will pass within a million miles of the earth, or when we see the last ice-cap slip under the waves, or if some chap sees the world exploding in his morning cornflakes – that it will. Somehow these dangers feel remote to us, as if they're never going to happen, and because of that we feel a little bit more alive. Living life on the edge can sometimes be fun.

Of course, if anything is going to destroy the world and wipe out humanity, it's more likely than not to be caused by...humans. Yup those squidgy little organisms that celebrate greed and power above everything else. (And even if you don't celebrate greed, you're forced to be greedy by the system, or else you'll be living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere). We have developed quite a knack for the self-destruction over the last few thousand years and all it takes is some nutcase... 

Or do we look forward to the end of the world in the hope that it will bring a new start? A new beginning? Something fresh and new. Sadly the chances are we won’t be around to see it for ourselves, but maybe the time is right for the rise of feline empire. Let's just hope were not their playthings.

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