Sunday, November 29, 2009


Maybe this has been said before, but just like there is torture porn - gratuitous violence à la The Saw, Hostel, etc., there must be such a genre as apocalypse porn. Do I need to list?
Demonic, scary, for-real-real apocalypse: The Omen 1 - 235879235, End of Days, [Insert here] of the Dead, Resident Evil, etc. etc.

“General” apocalypse: Day after Tomorrow, 2012, War of the Worlds, Mars Attacks, Metropolis, etc. etc.
Those are just the first things that came to mind in the last two minutes, as I am lazy – can you, can I, can anyone know the full extent of apocalyptic movies ever made? We’ll come back to this, but for now, here’s something completely different.

The reason that colleges pimp regimes of bystander-awareness rape and sexual assault prevention is because of the sociological principle of diffusion of responsibility: the more witnesses to a crime, the less likely any one of those witnesses will come to the victim’s aid. The bystander-awareness programs are supposed to help such witnesses learn what they can do so they won’t just stand by.

We need such a program for apocalypse porn – and I think, as well, for any kind of art form that argues for dissidence or rebellion against the standard regime. I was listening to the lovelies on the Sandbox, and while they were talking about that middle school teacher arrested in Boston back at the end of October, who became the most current avatar of Pure Evil™ in their minds, they played the following songs: M.I.A.’s Paper Planes, Green Day’s 21 Guns, Muse’s The Uprising…do I need to keep listing?

The question here isn’t “Why do we accept the fantasy-revolution in songs,” or something along the lines of “Did violent video games cause Columbine?” but, rather, “What effect are these fantasies having?”

It’d be completely different if we had a truly repressive, stagnant society. The bard-musicians in 1960s, 1970s Russia became reified and symbols of revolution (even though they were singing about love and campfires and nature, for the most part – I’m ignoring Vysotsky’s more pointed lyrics right now) because it was hard for the people to get to a dvor-concert or get their hands on bootleg, pre-cassette recordings. Forbidden fruit is essentially the easy mix powder form (Just add milk!) for artistic auras.

But for all that many aspects of our society are repressive, we are never oppressed in our status as consumers. Capitalism, in fact, loves it some good consumers. Musicians can sing about raging against the machine or about stand-offs with police or about a total apocalypse and exogenesis of human codes into the stars, and nothing will be repressed. We’re pushed to the opposite extreme – buy buy buy! Save the economy!

Our fantasy-revolutions have no real world counterparts. As the lovelies said, terrorist activity is t3h Pure Evil™. But, then, for what reason do we fantasize about revolutions, do we watch movies about apocalypses?
1. They are both fascinating concepts.
Neither apocalypse nor revolution are fun in a real life environment – they’re fascinating only as concepts. We want to experience both, but we don’t actually want to see the end of days, or see an upheaval. What would we do without Targeois?
2. Diffusion of apocalyptic responsibility.
Here’s a thought experiment – talk to someone about the time you were in kindergarten. See how many times you can say the word “kindergarten” in the conversation, in a speech-act, in a sentence. The more you say it, the more alien that combination of sounds becomes inside your mouth.

Repetition of an image – unless it has the marking of [+obsession] in an individual’s mind – does not make that image more powerful. Sorry, Dali, I know you wanted the world to be otherwise. Repetition leads to familiarity and regularity, normalizing the concepts; it doesn’t lead to critical paranoia.

So, in regards to apocalypse porn or the fantasie revolutionaire in alternative rock music, we actually have the opposite social effect of what one might originally think. We’re no longer scared of the apocalypse. We think, instead, that Cussack or Arnold or Milla will come save us. We look past the apocalypse and say “hm, how can we rebuild our society?” (which is very Norse. Make sure you clip your toenails before riding in to battle.) We fantasize about the revolution to release some steam - to take a load off, if you catch my drift – and then any real revolutionary thought we might have had has been mollified. Neutered.
like a cat. Tied to a stick. that's driven into. frozen winter shiz.


Justin said...

was that... did you... did you just quote Radiohead?

S.H.S said...

we like watching how Mark Wahlberg and Zooey can outlast apocalypse (in a recent "happening") and keep the healthy nuclear family going past almost everyone's extinction...

BECAUSE it reminds us [subconsciously, obv.] of how we kept imperial violence and (it's spawn) capitalism going strong in America even after our famous "revolution" (away from the empire)?


word verification: CONTIZI