Where’s my Apocalypse?

Okay, so the predicted Apocalypse failed to materialize like all other predicted apocalypses in the history of the world so far. Though this particular predicted Apocalypse was just a dress rehearsal for the much more publicized Mayan influenced Apocalypse that is supposed to happen on December 21st, 2012.

Though I did end up watching the Supernatural season 4 finale, which ends on the cliffhanger of Sam accidentally setting the Apocalypse in motion and Lucifer rising from hell, yesterday night. So there was an Apocalypse after all, it was just a fictional one.

Talking of Supernatural, is it just me or did the show seriously decline once the angels showed up? Never mind that show creator and head writer Eric Kripke is displaying definite symptoms of newly minted atheist syndrome.

Newly minted atheist syndrome can often be found in people who were brought up religious and dropped out of their religion as adults. But unlike people who were never religious to begin with or people who just drifted away from religion, this particular kind of atheist had a violent parting with religion, usually because of some kind of deep disappointment. These newly minted atheists are angry, usually with good reason, and they are also not quite sure about their atheism yet. If they are writers, filmmakers or otherwise creative people, these issues tend to show up in their work. Hence we get stories in which there is a hell, but no heaven, stories in which both heaven and hell exist and both are equally bad, stories about evil angels, evil gods, evil priests and nuns, stories in which God is revealed to be Cthulhu or a similar creature that has to be destroyed, stories in which someone kills God, Jesus, angels or any other symbol of religion.

Any reader of speculative fiction and comics and any viewer of speculative films or television has probably encountered this type of story at some point. They were very popular in comics, usually comics intended for mature readers, in the 1990s and early 2000s. You can find them in all subgenres of speculative fiction. They are also very common in British speculative television, particularly at the BBC and Channel 4, both of which are publicly financed (partly in the case of Channel 4) and therefore less dependent on advertisers. For example, Channel 4 has killed off Jesus at least twice in the past six years or so, though one was a fraud claiming to be the resurrected Jesus, while the other was the real deal. The BBC frowns on killing Jesus, but for a while, every speculative television show on the BBC made a point of stating, over and over again, that there was no afterlife and that this non-existing afterlife was absolutely horrible, to the point that I actually made a joke that the BBC should just put a banner stating “It is the official position of the BBC that there is no afterlife” on their website and be done with it. It is also telling that the one speculative BBC show* in which an afterlife not only existed but was actually the setting of the whole show kept the big secret under wraps until the final episode.

For some reason, newly minted atheist writers and filmmakers are more common in the UK than in the US. The phenomenon isn’t new either, George Orwell already described it some seventy years ago:

“He was an embittered atheist, the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him.”

None of this is intended as a reflection on the quality of the work produced by newly minted and angry atheists. In fact, a lot of the stories, comics, films and TV shows that show signs of newly minted atheist syndrome are very good indeed. But the pattern is very notable, especially if you’ve been consuming stories for a while. On the downside, some works also display a tendency towards rantiness. For example, towards the end of the fourth season of Supernatural, Dean started to sound like a mouthpiece for the writers’ views on religion. And in some cases the result is just plain ridiculous, a somewhat more refined version of a particularly memorable temper tantrum I once witnessed, in which a little boy of maybe five promised to shoot dead his parents and then the entire world and in the end, he would even shoot dead the “dear God”.

As for Supernatural, I was rather underwhelmed by the fourth season, even though there were still some very good episodes, e.g. the one with the third brother and the one with the series of pulp novels based on the adventures of the Winchester brothers. Sam and Dean discover the existence of slash and Wincest, what’s not to love?

*Title withheld because that would be a spoiler.

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2 Responses to Where’s my Apocalypse?

  1. Herc says:

    I think the show is blasphemous, most of its writers are at least agnostics or irreligious if not atheist, and they try to forcibly impose this view on the audience.

    • Cora says:

      It’s okay for the writers to believe (or not) in whatever they want, but blatantly using the characters as a mouthpiece for their views is kind of wearying, even if you happen to agree with them. Never mind that I’ll never understand why a certain type of newly minted atheist feels the need to fictionally murder the god they claim not to believe in.

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