Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Three apocalypses: Zombie, climate and Republicans

The Walking Dead is back for its fourth season. It began its new story arc last Sunday night, attracting a huge viewing audience, and for all Walking Dead fans there was a lot of what they like to see: gore and guts.

In zombie movies, by the time we see the dead, whatever was once human is now gone. Zombies are walking shells that were once people. So of course that gives surviving humans the right (nay, the responsibility!) to blow them away, usually with high calibre bullets to the head, although anything that can be used to kill the brain is good. In the aforementioned Walking Dead episode the zombies are outside the fence of the prison where the good guys have taken refuge from enemies: bad guys, both alive and undead. But by being undead the zombies aren’t really bad guys, are they? Sure they’re trying to chow down on living flesh, but they can’t help it. Usually in fiction we try to kill the people who deserve to be killed. What makes the zombies the object of our subjective lust to kill is not their personalities — being dead they have none — or whether they deserve it. It’s just because they are what they are, scary and ugly as hell. The situation in the season opener of Walking Dead sets up a lot of camera shots where humans are on one side of a chainlink fence stabbing sharpened poles or knives into zombie heads, with big gouts of blood. We get all the visceral thrills of killing with none of the guilt. We can’t really kill dead people, can we? We can just stop them from shambling on over to where we are to try to bite us.

Something they don’t get too deep into in these shows is disposal of large piles of corpses, which mostly goes on off-camera. Corpses would stink the place up something awful, but even if they are walking they’re still dead, and I assume still decomposing. But I never hear anyone in one of these stories say, “I smell a bunch of decaying zombies! They’re heading our way!” Since they’re still decomposing it may explain why all zombies in movies have to have messed up faces. Unless they’ve been in a horrible accident most people don’t die with their faces looking like raw meat.

The zombie movies are part of fiction about the collapse of civilization. The best thing is, despite all of the things that can happen to crush a civilization including sneak attacks by enemy nations, hordes of barbarians sweeping over the land killing all in their path, natural disasters, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and such, the only apocalyptic vision we will never have to face is a zombie apocalypse.

Not so a Republican apocalypse. As I write this, and if nothing is done to avert it, we have about two days until there will be a crisis which has evolved out of Republican hard-headedness and general disregard for their fellow citizens.

Patience of correct-thinking Americans, who have watched tea party idiots work to scuttle the stability and government of our country and throw their fellow Americans off a fiscal cliff, has been seriously tested. It’s because of some blathering idiots on the radio (Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, to name a couple) who have created crises where there are none, and brought about a political party based on fear, ignorance and some sort of phony “patriotism.”

That’s an apocalyptic vision to scare normal folks.

Further on down the road is the climate change apocalypse, which is not only a subject of denial by those same right wingdings, but far enough down the road that their view of the impending apocalypse is blurred.

The latest apocalyptic scare is an article that came out the other day claiming that by 2047 (a mere 34 years) the coldest winter will be hotter than our hottest summer.

Yikes. Another apocalypse to dread. Not only will we have major seaboard cities under water from melted glaciers, but drought and the heat of hellfire in the middle of the country and the Southwest. I can’t imagine how much hotter it can get than it is already in cities that reach 115ยบ in summer, but better get out the sunblock because by stepping out onto the street in 2047 your skin could catch fire. I should mention the likelihood is I won’t be here to see such a doom, because I would be 100-years-old in 2047, and the way I’m feeling now about Republicans I’m sure I’ll have a heart attack and die much sooner than that.

I’m worried by the thoughts that my son and his family will be around in 2047 to bear what has been created by people of prior generations — including my own — who will have brought upon our descendents such an apocalypse out of denial, greed and stupidity.

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