My husband Al and I are gamers, I suppose. We play video games together nearly every night, with titles ranging from the new Tomb Raider to Borderlands 2, the Assassin’s Creed games and one of my personal favorites, Skyrim (The Elder Scrolls). I don’t like to call myself a “gamer” per say, I don’t care for the string of assumptive baggage that follows the label, but I do say it on occasion for clarity sake. Last night, we started a new game we had been anticipating –with very good reason- called “The Last of Us.”
“The Last of Us” was developed by Naughty Dog (known for its very successful “Uncharted” series featuring the –somewhat- charming Nathan Drake) and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, released just in June of this year. The game is described as a “post-apocalyptic urban” horror, with a plague rendering the globe into a survival landscape chock-full of things that want to eat you, tear off your face, or anything else to get you dead. Horrifically dead.
But the game –even though it’s one of the most phenomenal I’ve seen so far in many technical and play aspects- is not really what I wanted to discuss today. Rather, the theme of “The Last of Us” is what I want to focus on. One that is shared by a plethora of other contemporary media types: games, movies, books… Yeah, that theme. The one about the world suddenly going haywire; coming to a grinding, terrible halt that scares the crap out of everyone, full of indiscriminate and instant death. Where one moment you are putting your child to sleep and brushing your teeth for bed, thinking about tomorrow and your tiresome job- and the next- your neighbors are trying to eat your face after devouring your child in front of you.
I’m talking about a sign of the times.
Just like Huxley’s Brave New World reflected fears about very real and eminent threats to what many felt were safe and familiar (growing mass production, totalitarianism, reproductive engineering, etc.), so much of today’s media reflects contemporary fears and apprehension about the pace of change. And that pace is higher than it has ever been in human history. Thanks to a shrinking of the globe due to technologies that bridge gaps between people and facilitate nearly endless communication, technological and social change is incredibly fast. Break neck, even.
So fast, many of us can’t keep up. And this can make a person…nervous.
So what do you do, in an environment that feels out of control, vaguely dangerous, and just confusing at times? You consume mass amounts of media that echo that sense of sudden and unpredictable change.
You watch those big, epic films where the world becomes a zombie apocalypse and play video games where a seemingly normal life is interrupted by a
by a nightmarish catastrophe, pulling out all the stops and leaving you feeling just as gutted and emotionally wrecked as the character you play. I mean, did anyone else feel this way at the end of the introduction in “The End of Us”?
I am fascinated how our media today is such a mirror of the contemporary world. I know, this isn’t exactly news. When hasn’t the media been a reflection of the contemporary world? But wow, we live in a really interesting time. Decades from now, maybe longer, people may look back and characterize our time as one of such change that the entire population was preoccupied with it, even when experiencing leisure time. Change was the god of our time, they’ll say, and everyone worshiped with utmost sincerity. I mean, hey, just Google “zombie apocalypse”. Go ahead. Surprise yourself.
Anyone else noticed this interesting trend in media, or elsewhere? How does this kind of media make you feel? Does it make you feel prepared for impending disaster…? Perhaps does it make you feel that disaster is further away if it can be contained and made cleaner in the media? I mean, has anyone else seen how the whole zombie apocalypse thing is romanticized and even sexualized…?
Are we really looking forward to the zombie apocalypse…?