5 Doomsday Scenarios (Hollywood Totally Screwed Up)
Even now, people still love movies about the end of civilization as we know it. There's something perversely thrilling about getting to witness the world fall apart in a forum other than cable news. But as much fun as some of these stories might be, they're often riddled with inaccuracies. Yes, it turns out Armageddon may look very different than what we've seen in movies and TV shows such as how ...
The Matrix -- If The Machines Took Over, They'd Probably Just Let Us All Die
One apocalyptic movie scenario we may be already living through without realizing it: The Matrix. Are we all just stuck inside an elaborate simulation? Do human beings exist purely as living AA batteries to power our robot overlords? If we manage to somehow break free of this virtual reality prison can we, um, skip the Fraggle Rock-themed raves?
In reality, The Matrix would probably never happen. For one thing, if people can escape the Matrix via telephone, wouldn't the robots set the simulation in, like, the 1700s or something? But there's a more science-y flaw too; it makes zero sense for the robots to use human beings as a power source, which is probably why no one jumpstarts their stalled cars using loved ones.
When Morpehus fills Neo in on, well, what happened in The Animatrix, he claims that with humans, the machines found "all the energy they would ever need." Humans are now grown like slimy naked Christmas trees. But that sure looks like a lot of work.
While the brain would produce energy, it would still take way more energy for the machines to keep everybody alive in Gigertown, U.S.A. than they would be able to extract. And even if we forgive how much effort would be required to house all of those people, feed them, and run an elaborate computer game 24/7 so they think it's still the '90s, the amount of energy you can get from a human brain isn't all that much. It would take three whole days just to "charge an iPhone." The machines would be better off letting us all die and just building their own nuclear plant. Which, admittedly, would have made for a worse movie with far-less black leather and kung-fu.
Zombies are Too Thin, Should Sometimes Be Exploding
The apocalypse genre just wouldn't be the same without zombies; from Night of the Living Dead, to Shaun of the Dead, to the one where Brad Pitt defeats an army of reanimated corpses thanks to the refreshing taste of Pepsi Cola, people love zombie stories. Even if The Walking Dead burns through every actor in Hollywood and is left with just the Dos Equis guy and Andy Dick wandering the ruins of America, if there are zombies, people will still tune in. But we may be picturing zombies all wrong. Typically, the zombies we tend to get are fairly thin.
The thing is, the zombies are supposed to be dead. Most zombie movies and shows ignore the fact that hours after death, the body begins digesting its internal tissues which releases a gas that causes the body "to swell and leak a dark liquid known as 'purge fluid.'" So, really, all decaying zombies should also be as bloated as the budget of a Michael Bay movie. Even gnarlier, sometimes these bloated bodies explode, not unlike how whale carcasses have been known to blow-up like fishy dynamite. So really, The Walking Dead should look a lot more like that super-gross Monty Python sketch.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes -- The Apes Might Not Want to Talk or Stand Up and They Can't Cry
Instead of simply evolving into super-smart beings who somehow don't have the ability to move their mouths, like in the 1968 original, the apes in the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise are laboratory test subjects who escape while humanity is being decimated by a killer virus. (A premise that seemed way more fun before news stories like this one.) In the second movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the titular creatures have become even smarter and more powerful, therefore they act more like humans -- even though that doesn't always make sense for apes. For one thing, the apes begin talking in rudimentary, Tim Allen-like utterances. But apes now already have the ability to talk if they "really needed to."
The apes also stand up and walk on two legs, which, again, makes no sense for apes physically. It makes sense for us because we have longer legs, but it would just be an unnecessary waste of energy for them not to walk on all fours. And in these movies, the apes can cry like they just watched The Notebook for the hundredth time.
But apes, not unlike your emotionally-distant stepdad, can't actually "produce tears." All of which may have not have been as dramatically powerful as what we got, but it couldn't have been worse than the old "Ape Lincoln" scene.
Race Isn't An Issue On The Handmaid's Tale For Some Reason
Really all of these doomsday stories should take the complexities of race into account when crafting their fictional worlds. But it's perhaps most glaring in the acclaimed series The Handmaid's Tale about a near-future in which fertile women are forced by the government into becoming child-bearing slaves. It's a tragic, depressing premise that no reasonable person would ever think to use as fun theme for a birthday party or wedding.
The show also largely ignores the concept of race, which is a problem for a few reasons. For one, its dystopian vision of subjugated women who are stripped of their reproductive rights is rooted in American history, many harrowing examples of which were directly targeted at women of color; be it when Mexican and Mexican-American women "sterilized against their will" while getting C-sections, or how the North Carolina Eugenics Board forced or coerced the sterilization of "disproportionately black and female" citizens for almost half a century.
In the original novel by Margaret Atwood, these issues are side-stepped by a brief mention of the fact that all the black people have been shipped off to some kind of internment camp -- wait, what? The show thankfully doesn't take that approach, and its diverse cast includes black, Asian, and Latinx handmaidens -- but that too is kind of a problem. Because ultimately, the show doesn't examine how their experiences would differ from those of the white protagonists or any of the ways "sexism intersects with racism." Which, to be fair, is still slightly better than the "all the people of color live on a farm upstate" approach.
The World of Mad Max: Fury Road Would be Covered in Smoke and Water Wouldn't be a Problem
The apocalypse of the Mad Max series has always been kind of confusing -- probably because the original movie was only set in a shambolic future because the director couldn't afford to hire extras. While Mad Max takes place in a time when buildings and police forces were still a thing, in The Road Warrior suddenly everyone is driving ridiculous cars in a desert wasteland. The third movie, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome explains how the planet was ravaged by nuclear war following the fuel shortage. In Mad Max: Fury Road, things look even more different as it was filmed in the vast Namibian desert.
But that's not actually what Earth would look like following a nuclear war. For one thing, the sky would, not unlike an outdoor Phish concert, be filled with thick smoke. The smoke would eventually clear after around 30 years, but that doesn't explain why Max would be so young still. Also Fury Road's villain Immortan Joe (a cruel post-apocalyptic overlord with real "haggard ex-Whitesnake roadie" energy) is able to maintain power because he controls the future's water supply.
But water likely wouldn't be scarce because "CO2 production would stop with the destruction of civilization" and "a less carbon-ridden climate and water cycle would emerge." This might lead to a "lush oasis" in which everyone wearing hockey masks and leather chaps might feel just a tad silly.