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Fear of the End of the World

By Alyssa Rosenberg  

"Fear of the End of the World"

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A week when 116 people were killed by tornadoes is perhaps not the best of all possible weeks to release a trailer for a movie that implies fear of extreme weather is a symptom of paranoid schizophrenia:

That said, while we have a lot of movies about apocalyptic disasters, ranging from alien invasion to Mayan prophecy, we have much less art about the way people respond to their fears of disaster and apocalypse. Obviously we don’t live in an age of mass preparedness in the same way we did in the fifties and sixties: air raid drills aren’t a regular part of school days, in areas of the country not affected by extreme weather, there are periodic runs on supermarkets, but with a sense of sheepishness attached, and I don’t know that people watch the Doomsday Clock with the same trepidation that they once might have. When something like a projected date for the Rapture comes due, the mainstream reaction is a combination of mockery and pity, even as we consume art about the end of the world, from The Passage, to 2012, to The Walking Dead, like it’s candy. Maybe absorbing ourselves in baroque fantasies of the end of the world (I am reasonably confident that we’re not going to breed twelve tribes of super-vampires in Colorado, but who knows!) lets us convince ourselves that they’ll never happen, while focusing instead on the fear of utter destruction is a little too close to an acknowledgement that things could really end badly.

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