Apocalypse When? The End of the World in Pop Culture


When I would complain about some trivial disappointment as a child (or even a teen -- and, really, disappointments at that age never feel as trivial as they are), my mother would say, "Well, it's not the end of the world."

Fortunately, she didn't live to see contemporary pop culture. That seems to be all we think about, judging from the films and TV series with which we are being inundated.

I happened to watch the pilot for a new series for the Syfy network, called Dominion. The first thing to appear on the screen were these words: "Twenty-five years ago, God disappeared." Yikes. Never a good sign.

This is the same network that is in the second season of another show, Defiance, set in 2047: "A new Earth -- with new rules." Extraterrestrials have taken up residence on Earth -- which is the same as the end of the world, right?

OK, so that's a stretch. But consider the recent NBC series Revolution, about a post-electric society: life without the grid. Or Terra Nova, about a family in 2149 (when the world is about to END!) transported into the prehistoric past.

There's also Tom Cruise's new film, Edge of Tomorrow, which has an almost-the-end-of-the-world story, with the victory of vicious alien invaders an imminent threat. Upcoming on TNT is The Last Ship, which Michael Bay has transformed from a tale of post-nuclear-holocaust life to one of a post-pandemic world (much scarier and, seemingly, more possible). There's also a new Australian film, all the rage at Cannes this year, called The Rover, which begins with the simple words, "Australia, after the fall."

This commentary continues on my website.