Oscar Wilde wrote that ‘Life imitates art far more than art imitates life’, a sentiment that in 1889 was probably thought of as witty and clever. In 2019 it seems like some kind of frighteningly accurate prophecy. We should probably check if Oscar ever said anything about alien invasions, or likely lottery numbers.
As I type this, the USA has gone full-blown Idiocracy, the UK has turned into one of the more batshit crazy episodes of The Thick Of It and Putin is literally working on the doomsday device described in Dr Strangelove.
Somehow we’ve become hell-bent on taking artistic works intended to provide entertaining and outrageous warnings to society – to use as instruction manuals.
With the slow motion car-crash of Brexit approaching, it looks like the UK is about to dive gleefully into one of the greatest fictional warning tropes. Brace yourselves as we slide into our very own post-apocalyptic movie.
With such a wide variety of cinematic post-apocalypses to choose from, which are we most likely to copy?
Even in the bleak canon of post-apocalyptic fiction, this depressing affair sticks out like a radiation mutated thumb. Nature is dying, cannibalistic gangs roam everywhere, human decency and empathy has been eradicated and our hero pushes his stuff around in a knackered shopping trolley. Basically, the world has turned into Nuneaton.
Likelihood: Almost certain. If I could bet in this I would.
Over the course of the Mad Max series the world turns from a weird and proto-lawless mess into a full-on desert of punk rock car chase madness. Throughout the saga much is made of the scarcity of petrol, yet everyone seems to want to burn it up asap by driving in the least fuel-efficient way possible. Meanwhile, Tina Turner runs a town that makes electricity out of pig shit.
Likelihood: Not much chance. Seeing as how even a hint of a petrol shortage causes an immediate traffic jam and empty pumps, I can’t see it getting all high octane road wars on the M6.
While the chances of an ageing celebrity running a pig shit-fuelled Barter Town seem more reasonable, the fact that all the farmers seem set to gleefully slaughter their livestock on brexit day means that we probably won’t have Shirley Bassey setting up a Thunderdome any time soon.
Enviro-disaster means that the oceans rise and rather that racing round in the desert, all of the anarcho-punk petrol heads are on jet-skis instead. The population is reduced to the afore-mentioned punk jet-skiers, steampunk oilrig outposts and solitary nomad types who may or may not have a family history involving fish sex.
On the bright side, Dennis Hopper is having an absolutely marvellous time.
Likelihood: Not in the short term, but more likely as time goes on. Especially when we start burning anything we can get our hands on to keep warm.
A Boy & His Dog
Rapey drifters roam the grim wasteland, aided by telepathic pets. Meanwhile the well-to-do have absconded to underground bunkers where they have fashioned utopian cities based on an idealised, nostalgic and rather right-wing view of the past.
Likelihood: The bunkers have already been built and access codes sent to Conservative party members.
The Bed Sitting Room
After a nuclear war that lasted 2 minutes and 28 seconds (including the time it took to sign the peace treaty), the country has become a dusty and absurd parody of itself. People try to deploy a bit of stiff upper lip and carry on as normal despite the fact they are slowly dying in a poisonous wasteland. The circle line is still running though.
Likelihood: Horribly likely. You can almost imagine the triumphant Brexit party conference in 2025 where the masses sing God Save The Queen before dining on a banquet of dog food and rainwater.
Hadrian’s wall is rebuilt and Scotland quarantined due to a killer virus outbreak. Meanwhile a totalitarian government led by a power mad PM shuns the rest of the world and plans to seal off London from the rest of the dystopian shitshow. North of the wall, it’s like a feudal music festival indeed and there is deep fried cannibalism. Just imagine the smell.
Likelihood: The opposite seems likely. If you reverse things and it is Scotland building the wall to keep themselves safe, then it seems very likely. Wales will probably build one too.