question of the day: Why are we fascinated by movies (and TV shows) about our own destruction?

I wasn’t totally thrilled by the debut of AMC’s new zombie drama, The Walking Dead, but lots of people joined me in checking it out: it was the highest-rated premiere on cable this year: counting the viewership of the two back-to-back airings of the first episode, more than eight million people tuned in to see the world end… again.

Coming up next week in theaters on both sides of the Atlantic is Skyline, yet another end-of-the-world-by-alien invasion movie.

Why are we fascinated by movies (and TV shows) about our own destruction?
Scientific American thinks it has the answer. From a recent essay called “Eternal Fascinations with the End: Why We’re Suckers for Stories of Our Own Demise”:

The desire to treat terrible events as the harbinger of the end of civilization itself also has roots in another human trait: vanity.

We all believe we live in an exceptional time, perhaps even a critical moment in the history of the species. Technology appears to have given us power over the atom, our genomes, the planet—with potentially dire consequences. This attitude may stem from nothing more than our desire to place ourselves at the center of the universe.

Our fears of the apocalypse may in the end mirror the most fundamental fear of all: fear of our own mortality.

That may be true. A corollary of that may be why whenever we do imagine the end of the world, at least in connection with stories like The Walking Dead and Skyline, we also imagine ourselves as one of the few survivors left to cope with the aftermath.

What do you think?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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