Skip to main content
Head shot of Patanjali Sokaris

Patanjali Sokaris

Pondering the universe

Post-apocalypse is the new western

Westerns were once a mainstay of movies and TV, but in recent years they seem to have been replaced by the post-apocalypse genre.

So many westerns were made, the total number of hours of them may have exceeded the number of hours (175,000) in the 20 years that are considered the heyday of the wild west.

But why should those in the 20th century hark back to the 19th century United States? Is there something there worth all the nostalgia, or was it more about the situation in the 20th century?

By the middle of the 20th century, the world had become a more complex place. Any solution to the world's problems seemed to need a lot of cooperation across many groups of people. The world was no longer simple. One person didn't seem like they could do much to change things on their own.

Enter the western, where the rules were simple, and an individual was valued because they could make a difference. Well, that's what it looked like a hundred years later. City life was just too complex. There seemed to be less rules in the west, and disputes could be settled by the gun.

So why did the western not do it for people any more? Well, perhaps the western scenarios were just getting too remote from the modern world. How could we dream about a simpler time that we could no longer get back to from now? The technology was just too old as well.

Enter the post-apocalypes genre, where the scenario can be reached by some catastrophic event that ripped down modern civilisation, and left us to our own devices, where rugged macho individuals can make their mark, and where they can be brave, and be seen doing so. Respected, when it seemed to be dismissed in modern times. Just have to look at the number of first-person shoot-'em-up games set in the post-apocalypse, to see the popularity of those world scenarios.

Of course, it is just a romantic idea, because if all those indulging vicariously in such typically young male fantasy worlds really were up to making a difference, they would be fighting in real-world trouble zones, actually risking their lives to save real people. But heroes mostly die, without any recognition. Anonymous. Out of sight of one's peers, or anyone else important.

Nonetherless, the post-apocalypse genre, like the westerns before it, despite giving people a distraction from the ever-increasing complexities of the modern world, is not the type of scenario most people want, as they do want the benefits of modern society, and would like effort directed to solving the problems, rather than avoiding them in a bleak self-serving fantasy world.

After all, people didn't really want the wild west, a world more suited to sociopaths and serial killers. They were happy to take on the relative stability, support and protection of larger towns and cities.

Subconsciously hoping for the simpler life and moral scope of the west or a post-apocalypse world is not a solution, but a way to subvert making a life one could be proud of. Better to be part of making a better world for all.

TS: art-a 3ID: 2017-06-11-00-00-00Now: 2020-08-14-14-07-42Powered by: Smallsite Design©Patanjali SokarisManage