I’ve recently been experiencing a good dose of post-apocalyptic mayhem. It just seems as though I can’t get enough of the stuff.
I worked it into my Halloween celebrations with the rather raw and ominous 28 Days Later along with its over Hollywood-ized sequel, 28 Weeks Later. Next I gave Thanksgiving a good shot in the arm with Cormac McCarthy’s masterful work, The Road. And over the holiday break, I succumbed to the seducing appeal of I Am Legend.
It’s not that I am hyper-obsessed with armageddon or am a latent conspiracy theorist, but I have to admit there is genuine intrigue in watching individuals grapple with the magnitude of the most emotionally charged and physically grotesque situations written in literary (or screenplay) history.
We’re talking flesh-eating men and carnivorous children. A life lived in constant terror, waiting for those you love to not only mentally, but physically, turn on you, forcing you to then turn to your only reasonable option: butcher them alive for your own safety.
Tough stuff, I know. Luckily, as we drove away from the theater, I comforted myself with the realization that if biotech scientists morphed a deadly virus into a cancer treatment, which then morphed itself into an even more frightening disease, it would prove lethal.
That’s right. No bloodthirsty vampires once disguised as your neighbors. No legions of the undead charging down your street in search of their next victim. And yes, that means no translucent-skinned savages with the heart rate of 240 beats per minute and the ability to scale tall buildings. We would all just keel over dead, and probably much quicker than those populations confronting malaria and hepatitis daily.
But then, that started worrying me even more than the thought of battling it out with a worldwide zombie epidemic. In real life, unlike the movies, there is never a hunky actor passing as a brilliant and dedicated scientist who refuses to abandon the cause.
In the movies we rarely have to face the reality of watching friends die slowly of an infectious disease or observe as parents try to cope with abandoning their children to quarantine zones.
In the movies there is always a cure, a way to bring humanity back from the brink of complete destruction.
This then led me over to the Center for Disease Control, which has a comprehensive list of bioterrorism agents currently threatening the world’s population.
The list totals out at 45 and not a single one of them claims to produce cannibalism or anything mirroring a zombie-like state.
Unfortunately, they are "bioterrorism agents" for a reason and the only consolation I received is that, yes, I was right. We will all die quickly … but not pleasantly.
I think that next time I have the option of watching another post-apocalyptic thriller, I might just head over to the United Nations Web site and see how the world’s negotiated treaties are holding up.
Maybe I will lend my support to diplomacy by switching on CSPAN or tuning into some peace talks (although I am not completely convinced they broadcast those sorts of things).
Because, in the end, I am betting that post-apocalyptic Earth is going to look a lot more like McCarthy’s stark remnants in The Road, ripe with baby-eating and rouge gangs, than I Am Legend’s contemplative gaze toward the sunset.