I have noticed a trend that has picked up a lot of steam recently, and I would be shocked if others haven't seen it. I am talking about people's strange obsession with the end of the world or a broken society. As I've been growing up, I've seen ads for zombie movies or movies involving the end of the world increase in numbers every year. I can easily name 5 movies ("Oblivion," "After Earth," "World War Z," "Independence Day," and "Elysium") and 5 games (Destiny, The Last of Us, Left 4 Dead, The Division, and even the newer Call of Duty games) that involve the end of the world through a virus, or an anarchist group, or just zombies in general.
How come our society has grown such a love for the idea of the end of the world?
I am just as excited to see "World War Z" as the next person, even though Max Brooks, the author of the original book, stated that Brad Pitt didn't follow a single detail. What I don't understand is why I'm excited to see a movie about a virus that causes people to eat each other until there's no more people left. I believe that I want to see it because I, like many others, like the improbable, and a virus that makes perfectly sane people eat those that aren't infected is up there on the improbable scale.
But "World War Z" is just one instance, what about games like The Last of Us or The Division? How come I feel the need to actively throw myself into a dystopian world so I can experience it?
These worlds aren't pretty at all either. They all involve people who are willing to kill others with no provocation for their own safety/benefit. Living through these worlds in the eyes of a character is much more preferable than me actually living through it. I would be scared out of my mind if a situation like zombies or complete anarchy became real.
I believe deep down, humans generally like gore and violence. Even in ancient times, men were forced to fight each other to the death for the amusement of others. Over time we have found other ways to feed this kind of "hunger." Video games about war and the end of the world became big because of this strange need for violence. Whenever I ask someone how the new Call of Duty game is, I always find it twisted when they say, "a lot of fun," because they are calling shooting other men, even though they aren't real, to death. But that's beside the point.
The idea of the end of the world seems fun in retrospect because it seems so impossible. That governments and countries will fall because of virus that could not be contained. I have found a website with a chart that shows the interest in dystopian books since the 1920 until 2013. The reason for people's interest in dystopian stories, explained by a synopsis of a college course about dystopian literature, is the "high-stakes" and great risks that the protagonist(s) have to go through to save themselves and the rest of humanity. While these stories are fun, we have to take into consideration that when a catastrophic event happens, we will have a large group of ill-prepared people who will think that they can handle themselves without the government because of all the movies, games, and books surrounding the end of the world.