“Think about the strangeness of today’s situation. Thirty, forty years ago, we were still debating about what the future will be: communist, fascist, capitalist, whatever. Today, nobody even debates these issues. We all silently accept global capitalism is here to stay. On the other hand, we are obsessed with cosmic catastrophes: the whole life on earth disintegrating, because of some virus, because of an asteroid hitting the earth, and so on. So the paradox is, that it’s much easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than a much more modest radical change in capitalism.” –Slavoj Zizek, 2005
Indeed, capitalism has become fundamental to our society, and it looks like it is here to stay. Governments and multi-national companies alike are so driven by their profit-making goals that they fail to notice how their actions and choices directly contribute to expediting apocalypse. Movie directors highlight this phenomenon by featuring apocalyptic scenarios as a result of such capitalist acts in many blockbuster films. Causes of the apocalypse could be nuclear missiles, viruses, artificial intelligence going rogue and civil revolutions – the list is endless. Audiences are typically exposed to barren, contaminated wastelands and civilisations in chaos, where filmmakers capitalise on such fears of the apocalypse to draw audiences into the cinemas. It is common to expect that audiences are drawn to these films as a form of cathartic release from our own grim realities, yet ironically these films perpetuate and reflect the problems we primarily face today with the apocalypse simply as a backdrop. In this issue, we will examine three apocalyptic texts: Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Handmaid’s Tale and Snowpiercer, which highlight the different issues faced by societies – fears of Artificial Intelligence, government oppression and social inequality, respectively. Therefore, we will explain how the apocalypse is used as the overarching problem to portray these smaller but equally pressing issues (takeover of bad sentient AI in Transformers, governmental oppression in The Handmaid’s Tale and ensuing class war in Snowpiercer) to the audience.