Prologue: Humanity in Apocalypse

Apocalyptic texts represent end-of-world scenarios, where the structured and peaceful way of life are replaced by chaos, destructions and uncertainties, creating an unimaginable world vastly different from what we know currently.

Faced with a prospect of a bleak future and an avalanche of challenges, the behaviours of humans are unpredictable and can change greatly.

This issue aims to explore the complexity of humanity in the face of apocalypse, focusing on innate human traits such as personal identities, stereotypes and morality.

We aim to explore the issue of personal identities in our first article. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), the characters are thrust into an identity crisis when faced with an adversary as intelligent as humans in the apocalypse. How do they define themselves in the face of such danger? As in most apocalyptic movies, the humans answer this question by arming and distancing themselves from the apes as much as possible. This article examines how humans intrinsically define their identity using the tools they have around them. It goes on to talk about how the easiest solution we may have to that question may in turn just bring up more problems.

We next focus on the issue of stereotype, specifically on gender.  In Mad MaxFury Road (2015), humanity strives to survive in an already bleak situation. Instead of adopting the usual male-hero theme, Fury Road presents a female warrior leading others in the fight against the tyrannical ruler who suffocates  humanity out of its people. However, the fact that the heroine looks and acts in a way that does not resemble “traditional” femininity raises the question: is power associated with being masculine? This article will examine how non-essentialism represented in the film is just a facade when in fact both the male and female characters still conform to certain deep-seated gender stereotypes.

Finally, the issue of changing morality is explored through two different articles, with The 100 focusing on moral absolutism and 2012 centralising on morality’s influence in decision-making processes.

The 100 (2014) highlights a post-apocalyptic world where humans have regressed  into a tribalism, forming different tribes each with their own interests and goals. In the absence of a true adversary and the presence of different groups with opposing interests, how will morality shape the decisions of the different stakeholders? This article examines the concept of changing morality as one is placed in a completely new environment and how there may not be moral absolutism. 

2012 (2009), shows a race against time as a flood threatens the whole of humanity. Fortunately, the presence of giant arks, reminiscent of Noah’s ark, prevents the complete extinction of humanity. Throughout the text, we see a shift in how people in positions of power make decisions. The basis changes from a logical and utilitarian one to a more human and emotional one. Why is there such a change? This article examines what the text suggests about humans in the apocalypse and the reasons that might drive such a change.

Through these four articles, we hope that readers will develop a better understanding of apocalyptic texts, especially with regards to humanity and  its defining features. The insights provided in these articles can act as a starting point for readers to reflect on other apocalyptic texts that they have seen or even to other texts in general.

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