The History Channel tonight aired their Life After People show, which I did not catch thanks to the Penguins-Capitals game. (It was good, then came the part where the Pens lost.) H to the C hyped it big time, including buying advertising on Slate, and I was intrigued despite this prime example of my shifting-focus theory of the History Channel. I’ll have to Tivo that mug when it rolls around again.
I don’t think this show would have the same audience if it weren’t for I Am Legend coming out last month, what with both being all deer-in-Times-Square and whatnot. Those two are in turn a hell of a lot like Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us. Add in the upcoming movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road — now shooting near Pittsburgh, though that isn’t quite so flattering when they’re evoking a post-apocalyptic landscape — and we have an end-of-it-all trend. Sounds like a certain nation is rocking some sort of end-of-empire vibe.
I can’t predict the possibility that any of this stuff will come true, but then if I could, waiting around for it wouldn’t be fun either. I certainly hope we don’t end up with The Road, because that book single-handedly messed up my Road Warrior-based distant concept of civilizational collapse — featuring crazy football-padded dudes fighting in the desert — and turned it into existential nightmare No. 1. (It was really not a fun book. Tremendously well-written, but relentlessly disturbing.)
So I’d like to make two points about this whole cultural trend:
1. Everybody dying, while probably good for the Earth, would not be cool at all.
2. If we’re watching decline-and-fall shows here in the “declining” U.S. — as much as a nation of 300 million entrepreneurially oriented people can decline without suffering some society-immolating event — do you suppose rising powers India and China are rocking Hindi / Mandarin shows about Romulus and Remus getting Rome off the ground?