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Old 03-11-2013, 11:25 AM   #1
mwhip
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"Apocalypse" type shows and group dynamics. A discussion

Off the bat got to let people know there could be spoilers for any show that has "apocalypse" feel to it. Walking Dead, Falling Skies, Jericho...et al...

I am intrigued by how groups react to these conditions. In shows like Walking Dead you have no trust between groups and when one groups sees another it is very standoff-ish. Sometimes they join up sometimes they remain adversaries. In shows like Falling Skies whenever they come across "survivors" they immediately are trust worthy unless they give the reason not to be. I wonder if this is due to the cause of the apocalypse being man made (zombies, contagion, nuclear war) or alien invasion. In the alien invasion scenario groups seems to be more willing to join together to fight a common enemy, even though you know at some point you are going to have to compete for resources. Off the bat on survival shows they are already in survival mode. Always worrying if the new group is after food or weapons.

It really gets me curious how characters are written to react. In any circumstance I think I would be trying to join up and create a "safe haven" no matter what. In a scenario like alien invasion sure you are more at "war" then if you are just concerned about infected or zombies. I think the zombie scenario of getting to an island is best option.
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:38 AM   #2
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Did you see The Colony? It was a "reality" tv show where they tried to recreate post-apocalyptic conditions to see how people would react. Still directed, but I thought it took an interesting look at the social dynamics that might possibly develop. A lot of it seemed to have to do with what skill sets and resources different people and groups had to offer.
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:46 AM   #3
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When I watch these shows, I know it's fiction, so I don't think about such things. What I find fascinating is how they react to the crap that's coming at them. That's the fun part of the show. I find that most writers are not quite sure how to handle the interpersonal stuff, and usually it's pretty cheesy.
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:52 PM   #4
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If you're talking about an apocalypse with no zombies or aliens, then it's basically going back to the middle ages--no power, limited transportation and communication, etc.

Generally in that situation the average guy has to give up freedom in exchange for security. Anarchy is the worst enemy--you can plant crops and form a community, but if bandits or whatever come in every few months and either steal or destroy all you have accomplished, you're dead. So someone comes along and provides security for a price. He solves your question about whether you can trust strangers--he either takes them in and watches them or he kills them, or he turns them into slaves. Of course, he can do those same things to you.
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Old 03-11-2013, 02:08 PM   #5
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Apocalypse books are much more satisfying than TV shows.

A Gift Upon The Shore
The Handmaid's Tale
A Canticle For Leibowitz
The Road
Bangs and Whimpers - Stories About the End of the World

Anyone who has a favorite apocalypse book please list them.
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Old 03-11-2013, 02:42 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mwhip View Post
Off the bat got to let people know there could be spoilers for any show that has "apocalypse" feel to it. Walking Dead, Falling Skies, Jericho...et al...

I am intrigued by how groups react to these conditions. In shows like Walking Dead you have no trust between groups and when one groups sees another it is very standoff-ish. Sometimes they join up sometimes they remain adversaries. In shows like Falling Skies whenever they come across "survivors" they immediately are trust worthy unless they give the reason not to be. I wonder if this is due to the cause of the apocalypse being man made (zombies, contagion, nuclear war) or alien invasion. In the alien invasion scenario groups seems to be more willing to join together to fight a common enemy, even though you know at some point you are going to have to compete for resources. Off the bat on survival shows they are already in survival mode. Always worrying if the new group is after food or weapons.
External enemy might be a big difference. The other would be what caused the die off (whether it would tend to make people more wary of others).

Aliens blow up the cities, and most people are dead because of direct alien action, not a lot of man vs man killing. There's more of a relative resource surplus, and a desire to stick together because that way you can at least resist minor alien patrols.

But a zombie apocolype where you have people turning into zombies (or possibly at some stages people in denial that their famility/friends could be infected and harboring them until they turn) and you're pretty down on the human condition.

Take another one like Revolution, where the power (and consequently transportation) goes out and most people would die from starvation or fights over the scarce food supplies (especially anywhere near cities). After you just suvived months of dying time by beating other surivivors to keep or take the last of the food and you're going to be damn suspicious of anyone you meet.
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Old 03-11-2013, 02:53 PM   #7
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I wonder if this is due to the cause of the apocalypse being man made (zombies, contagion, nuclear war) or alien invasion.
I don't mean to be pedantic, but it's entirely due to the point the writers are trying to make. In a sense, it's like the old comic book arguments about "Who'd win in a fight, Superman or Thor?" Well, it depends on who's writing it.

If the writers are trying for an uplifting view of humanity, then the characters will pull together and unite against whatever's going on. If they're after a Hobbesian nightmare, then society will crumble, even on a small scale.

It's not the nature of the apocalypse. It's what you make of it.

(And of course writers will shape their apocalypse to the point they're trying to make, but that would be more of a detail level thing.)
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Old 03-11-2013, 02:58 PM   #8
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Anyone who has a favorite apocalypse book please list them.
Lucifer's Hammer
The Stand
Alas Babylon
One Second After
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Old 03-11-2013, 03:37 PM   #9
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I don't mean to be pedantic, but it's entirely due to the point the writers are trying to make. In a sense, it's like the old comic book arguments about "Who'd win in a fight, Superman or Thor?" Well, it depends on who's writing it.

If the writers are trying for an uplifting view of humanity, then the characters will pull together and unite against whatever's going on. If they're after a Hobbesian nightmare, then society will crumble, even on a small scale.

It's not the nature of the apocalypse. It's what you make of it.

(And of course writers will shape their apocalypse to the point they're trying to make, but that would be more of a detail level thing.)
But to take your point a little farther (further?), chances are that if there were a real "apocalypse", many people will end up behaving the way they see the characters in these productions behaving, logical or not, because they will believe that is the most effective course of action.
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Old 03-11-2013, 03:41 PM   #10
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But to take your point a little farther (further?), chances are that if there were a real "apocalypse", many people will end up behaving the way they see the characters in these productions behaving, logical or not, because they will believe that is the most effective course of action.
But I think in a real zombie apocalypse, you'd see them reacting at both extremes (falling apart, pulling together), and in a real alien invasion, the same. And everything in between.

For example, if I pointed out that civilization is collapsing because the OP can't spell "apocalypse," some posters would pull together in a heroic effort to save our society from such decaying standards. And others would start a flame war about spelling/grammar nazis and just accelerate the collapse. But if they were making a movie about it, it would probably be one or the other.
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Old 03-11-2013, 04:39 PM   #11
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I think the zombie scenario of getting to an island is best option.
The island would have to be capable of sustaining you and your group indefinitely. Assuming there's a fresh water source and access to fishing, I suppose it's possible. The zombies would have to be incapable of underwater travel (see World War Z; that's not necessarily the case). The island would have to be far enough removed from civilization that you're not dealing with a stream of refuges competing for finite resources, and it wouldn't work so well if it were a Walking Dead "everyone's already infected" type of situation. If one of your survivors dies, there goes the neighborhood.
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:32 PM   #12
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:59 PM   #13
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I can only assume you mean the t-virus?
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:32 PM   #14
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Lucifer's Hammer
The Stand
I think the "The Stand" miniseries was good too.
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:02 PM   #15
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The island would have to be capable of sustaining you and your group indefinitely. Assuming there's a fresh water source and access to fishing, I suppose it's possible. The zombies would have to be incapable of underwater travel (see World War Z; that's not necessarily the case). The island would have to be far enough removed from civilization that you're not dealing with a stream of refuges competing for finite resources, and it wouldn't work so well if it were a Walking Dead "everyone's already infected" type of situation. If one of your survivors dies, there goes the neighborhood.
I would hope you could boat to and from the main land to get supplies.
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Old 03-12-2013, 04:51 AM   #16
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I think the "The Stand" miniseries was good too.
I liked Gary Sinise in it, but I think just because of when it was made, it was pretty cheesy - mainly the ending. I think I read recently in Entertainment Weekly that Ben Affleck is planning to remake it soon.

I hope that's true.
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Old 03-12-2013, 03:17 PM   #17
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Apocalypse books are much more satisfying than TV shows.

A Gift Upon The Shore
The Handmaid's Tale
A Canticle For Leibowitz
The Road
Bangs and Whimpers - Stories About the End of the World

Anyone who has a favorite apocalypse book please list them.
Lucifer's Hammer,
The Postman (much better than the Kevin Costner movie)
The Stand
Footfall for (Alien Invasion scenario)

Just to name a few.
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Old 03-12-2013, 03:32 PM   #18
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Lucifer's Hammer
The Stand
Alas Babylon
One Second After
These are all good. The beauty of the zombie apocalypse is that it's not going to happen. The comet thing is a long shot. Killer virus, a little more likely, but One Second After is really scary because it could happen so easily.

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I liked Gary Sinise in it, but I think just because of when it was made, it was pretty cheesy - mainly the ending. I think I read recently in Entertainment Weekly that Ben Affleck is planning to remake it soon.

I hope that's true.
Would love to see a remake, but it suffers the usual problem with Stephen King stuff--big let down for the ending.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:09 PM   #19
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Apocalypse books are much more satisfying than TV shows.

A Gift Upon The Shore
The Handmaid's Tale
A Canticle For Leibowitz
The Road
Bangs and Whimpers - Stories About the End of the World

Anyone who has a favorite apocalypse book please list them.
Swan Song
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:31 PM   #20
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My favs...

Lucifer's Hammer...comet impact
A Canticle for Leibowitz...nuclear war
The Stand...biotech screwup
One Second After...EMP from an enemy nuke destroys US electrical grid & electronics

These scenarios are much scarier to me than the zombie apocalypse fantasies
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Old 03-15-2013, 03:58 PM   #21
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Books that have not been mentioned yet:

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
Wool
Oryx and Crake
Pure
The War Against the Chtorr series (kind of mid-apocalypse)
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:23 AM   #22
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I think (I really do sometimes) that there is a fundamental theme in all of these presentations and that is the "single enemy" factor. What follows is typical reactionary behavior.

All the rest is bending the basic sociological principals to make up a good story.

Wow - I really know some big words.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:23 AM   #23
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I find that most writers are not quite sure how to handle the interpersonal stuff, and usually it's pretty cheesy.
Agreed, and it can make or break a series for me. Walking Dead does a pretty good job in this area, Revolution - sucks.

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But I think in a real zombie apocalypse, you'd see them reacting at both extremes (falling apart, pulling together), and in a real alien invasion, the same. And everything in between.
Very much this. And in short order those that fall apart will be dead from one cause or another. What you'll end up with is psychologically damaged people that are still able to function. Sorta like we have now.
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