Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's the end of the world...with commercials

I freely admit to being a fan of zombie movies, and worse yet, my tastes run toward the cheesy. I like the appallingly bad movies that may have had a budget running into thousands of dollars. "The Walking Dead" by comparison, has higher production values and actual actors.

But tonight I tried to branch off into the AMC production of "Doomsday Preppers" a look at those of who absolutely relish the idea of a global apocalypse. I managed to stay with it all of three minutes. When they highlighted the couple who planned to spend the weekend - not playing golf or going fishing - but instead testing their house to see how bullet proof it was, well, I had to leave. These people are quite possibly insane.

I don't say that lightly. There are drugs for treating this kind of dementia, and these people are in dire need of medication. Let's approach this from both an historical and personal perspective.

Our planet and our people have had some truly apocalyptic events. The Black Death decimated the population of Europe and lead to fundamental societal changes. More recently, Spanish influenza killed more people during the First World War than were killed in combat. The planet has has tsunamis, earthquakes, and meteorite impacts. The Bronze Age ended in calamitous fashion, and we still do not know why.

But how often have these cataclysmic events occurred? Their rarity would seem to indicate that the chance of a world-wide apocalypse in our lifetime is relatively remote. It's a low probability event. We probably stand a much better chance of being hit by lightning.

I said that this has a personal dimension too, and to explain that, I have to delve into my own history. When I was a child, my mother listened to the Catherine Kuhlman radio hour every morning while we had breakfast. Kuhlman was an evangelist and faith healer, and one of Pittsburgh's AM radio stations broadcasted her show. I must have been 10 or 11 when she predicted the end of the world would arrive in 1971 or 1972.

It's laughable now, but at the time she scared me witless. Adults were authority figures and since my mother listened to Kuhlman, she must have had a good reason to do so. By extension, Kuhlman had authority too. She scared the beejeebers out of me. I hadn't made any great plans for my life since at 10 years old a 'plan' consisted of what to do after school, but I knew I wanted to live far past 1972.

Kids don't intellectualize their fears. They're not able to discuss them rationally with adults, so they remain internalized rather than verbalized. It says much about the power of that broadcast when I can remember it after 50 years.

And that brings us back around to the "Doomsday Preppers." I think it's wrong of AMC to air this kind of show, though I whole-heartedly support their right to do so. It's wrong because it will frighten children in terrible ways. Sure, zombie movies can have their scary moments, but when the subject matter is portrayed in the context of a 'reality' show, a kid won't know enough to realize it's mostly bullshit.

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4 Comments:

Blogger The Donut Guy said...

I came to the same conclusion about Doomsday Preppers.....I made it through the entire first episode-I won't be watching a second.

When I was a kid.....my parents and I would watch Ernest Angley.

We weren't rabid religious fanatics.....we would be laughing our asses off at the guy.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Steve A said...

Why do you worry about this? December, 2012 is less tha a year away!

5:38 AM  
Blogger PM Summer said...

I live among the "Doomsday Preppies".

9:14 AM  
Blogger A Midnight Rider said...

The first time I remember a predictions by Nostradamus was July of 1973. There have been many more since.

These people are as nuts as those Evangelicals and Muslims or other religious groups who think some of us are going to hell or heaven or whatever.

There will always be some who will believe almost anything.

8:43 AM  

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