It seems that all apocalyptic film and literature hold one common theme: humans are the cause. Which begs the question are we destined to destroy ourselves? We have seen many types of apocalypses in our course this semester, and it would be hard to argue that humans are not the cause of most of them. Two of the most popular apocalyptic stories in our society today seem to be the zombie apocalypse or a plague and a technological apocalypse.
However this is not surprising given the fact that the Miami cannibal attack of May 2012 or the bath salts fiasco sparked a deep fear into society of an impending zombie attack. The zombie apocalypse though can more often than not be explained as human caused, although we usually are never told how the outbreak occurred. In the TV Show The Walking Dead we are never actually given a cause of zombie outbreak, however Cinemablend quotes Cliff Curtis from Fear of the Walking Dead as saying:
It’s not on the show, but what I think is a really strong possibility is that all of the government laws around immunization of children and how it’s illegal to not be immunized, so that you have all of these kids who, for generations, are immunized, but then something goes wrong and you have thousands and thousands and thousands of people, all around the world, buying these immunizations for flu shots or to fight bacteria or disease, and we’ve basically become over-immune and our immune system takes over and refuses to let the body die. That’s my theory.
**This comment is not meant to start a debate on where you stand on this subject!
Whether this is true or not, the producers will probably never let the audience know, like countless films and literature before it. However it is feasible that any zombie apocalypse is caused by human tampering of viruses and bacteria. Another popular brand of apocalypse is the plague, which again is unsurprising with the recent surge in Ebola or the Zika Virus. As a society we are terrified of viruses, especially those that have a high fatality rate. With this type of apocalypse we can also blame humans, for example in both I Am Legend and 28 Days Later a virus is genetically engineered by humans. Atwood’s novels Oryx and Crake and the Year of the Flood play on the idea that if we try and play God we take a gamble at creating a heaven or a hell, and if a zombie apocalypse or plague are ever to begin it will probably have something to do with societies fixation on science.
The technologic apocalypse is another popular apocalypse. Humans are completely reliant on technology, and in three ways an apocalypse could be started through technology: (1) technology failure where the world stands still (2) technology takes us over, like in WALL-E (3) humans cause a catastrophic event through technology.
I’ve included a video that shows some possible ways that an apocalypse can occur and of the six, four are human caused. However, some could argue that number five could potentially be human caused, that is an early eruption due to human activity.
There are countless more examples of apocalypse types that humans have started, and perhaps we will always be the cause of our own apocalypse. Whatever way we slice or dice the cake, humans are always doing the cutting.