Film and TV

The Leftovers: The Industry of Post-Apocalypse

I love an American apocalypse more than any other kind. I mean, 28 Days Later was awesome too (By that I mean Chistopher Eccleston was also in it), but Americans are simply made for the end of the world. We prepare for it, fetishize about it. What do you expect from a people who blew up the colonial, constitutional monarchy system really just to see if they could hope-and-change things a bit for shits, giggles, and freedom?

We. Like. New beginnings. That's why we steal other people's horror movies and sell them endless Hollywood reboots.

The question that is really asked on The Leftovers this week is, "What kind of economy would arise after two percent of the world's population disappeared?" Answer? A most fucked one.

Nora Durst, who lost her entire family in the Departure, is our POV character this week. She works for a government agency that provides a hefty check to survivors in exchange for answering a huge questionnaire as the government seeks a pattern for who was taken and who wasn't. Everything from your alcohol intake to how religious you were is taken into account, and Nora does this day in and day out.

It makes her a little crazy. Like, for instance, she's invented a whole new form of release that requires a Kevlar vest and paying a prostitute $3,000 for the night. We see this after we watch her re-buy all the cereals that her Departed children liked (Up to and including replacing the expired milk she bought last week) in what is the saddest shopping trip ever shown on screen.

So prostitutes have to branch out, where else has endless American ingenuity taken us in this brave new, slightly less populated world? Well, Nora attends a conference on the Departure where she meets a man who specializes in charging $40K for an incredibly lifelike replica of a Departed loved one to bury in place of his or her vanished corpse.

This is probably a play on those guys that set up a hoax site offering to care for animals left behind in the Rapture. You can joke, but among all the self-righteous laughing about post-Rapture silliness they admitted people did in fact contact them hoping to use the service. This is a country where John Edward has a successful career talking to the dead despite the fact there's about as much evidence his powers are real as there are to chemtrails.

Hey did someone mention crazy conspiracy theories? I indeedily did, friends and enemies. Nora finds that her badge has been preemptively stolen at the conference and used by a woman who plans to use Nora's seat on a well-attended panel to blame a secret Israeli super plasma cannon for the Departure. Why won't you sheeple and your experts wake up and see the truth?

The Departure... because of Jeeewwwsss. The author rolls eyes and offers high five to the writers who know the Elders of Zion crap survives the end of the world. That nuttiness ain't going anywhere not matter what happens to this crazy rock.

By the by, if you don't think post-apocalyptic scaremongering is a business as well, then you've never visited World Net Daily's superstore. Only a thousand percent mark-up on Faraday Cages while supplies last! Get the ultimate tinfoil hat because your family deserves the best.

The reason The Leftovers is great is because of three things. First, it takes a really tiny thing to create the end of the world. Second, that change will affect us in a ton of abnormally normal ways. And last, by beating us over the head with a frighteningly realistic vision of the impossible. I'm way more scared by what people will do in this situation than any number of zombies.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner