Apocalyptic fiction is one of my favourite genres to explore, and I don't think I'm alone. These dark and strange universes allow us to explore the consequences of our actions; usually in some futuristic setting when our large population supported by its complex social, economic and political structures has been thrust into chaos. The genre allows us to explore the darker side of humanity and ourselves; acting as a tool for gaining perspective into our dormant primal instincts geared towards basic survival. Apocalyptic fiction lets us ask: "What happens when civilization is no longer there to organize groups and provide a model for behaviour that allows for trust and collaboration?", leading to a discussion surrounding themes of society, individuality, security, survival, and spirituality in a time when the fear of apocalypse has become ever present in the zeitgeist. It allows us to explore humanity’s deepest fears; fears focused around loss of control, predictability, and death; fears that lie deepest to our core selves. It's crucial to explore these ideas is we hope to avert a dark future, but unfortunately these topics do not get the attention they deserve in our normal day to day lives. It is simply not considered polite conversation to bring up these potentially disturbing ideas. But there's a freedom to explore this side of society in a fictional setting, one which is distanced enough from our lives so as to not trigger any deep seeded fears of destruction and death.
When it comes to the apocalyptic genre I like the zombie universe the best. In a zombie world, people struggle for survival every day, a return to a forgotten past. In zombie fiction people fear strangers, have a hard time cooperating, and act almost entirely in their own self-interest. There's a move away from groupthink to more individualized value systems, because social conditions don’t create confidence around meeting our basic needs. Basically it let’s us see what happens when we lose a sense of connection and become lifeless corpses. But I have a question to ask. Are we already lifeless zombies? Warm Bodies, a romantic zombie comedy, says yes. In this world, R is a young zombie with a human consciousness hidden behind his hunger for brains. What he craves most is the ability to feel, which he experiences when he eats the brains of one of his victims. In essence he just wants to live again. He wants to truly connect with emotions and his zombie peers, but the zombie world that he lives in makes it impossible to do so. Unfortunately for R, he comes off rigid, cold, inexpressive. But one day that changes. A girl comes along and shows him what it means to connect. She shows him that change is possible, and in turn their growing connection spreads to his zombie peers allowing them to start to experience what it means to live again.
What I think is super cool about this movie is that it runs alongside a new movement that I see today, a movement focused on reconnecting with life. I think we're reaching a state in our modernity where society as a whole is beginning to grow up. Sure, our approach to progress may have been shortsighted, and maybe we have misused technology and the gifts it has bestowed. Perhaps our civilization is sick, and perhaps it is on the road to failure, but it doesn't mean we can't change our direction by taking on a more mature approach to our problems. As a whole, humanity is reaching an age of maturity, a time when a greater majority of people are willing to step outside of the box and start thinking freely for themselves. We do so because in our desire for bigger and better things we feel that we have lost something integral to our being, and we want to rediscover what that is. An increase in festival attendance, people sharing stories over the internet, and a drive to reconnect with other people in our communities shows that there is a growing recognition that connection is important. While it may appear that only a small group of people are espousing these beliefs, the ideas are getting more support as the power of connection spreads. When you look at significant moments in history, moments that saw a major shift in thinking, the ideas espoused during those times did not take hold right away. What media has accomplished with movies like Wall-E, and television shows like Walking Dead is to make us question the direction of our future; and we're sure to see a change in our society's direction as new leaders emerge imbued with this new awareness. We're all becoming a bit warmer towards each other, creating a new zeitgeist that steers us away from our zombie future.