Nolte: Dystopia Porn Channels Our Spiritual Desolation, Not Our ‘Anxieties’

The Walking Dead Zombies
AMC

For the sake of simplicity, I’m lumping America’s fascination with dystopia, the apocalypse, and the zombie apocalypse all together under the single heading of Dystopia Porn.

Dystopia is everywhere today, everywhere like never before. Movies, TV, videogames, novels… Dystopia is bigger today than the Beatles were 50 years ago. I mean, look at this. We’re fascinated by the end of the world, obsessed with it, and a lot of truly stupid people don’t understand why.

For example…

The far-left New York Times:

Most of these new dystopian stories take place in the future, but channel the anger and anxieties of the present, when women and men alike are grappling with shifting gender roles and the messy, continuing aftermath of the MeToo movement. They are landing at a charged and polarizing moment, when a record number of women are getting involved in politics and running for office, and more women are speaking out against sexual assault and harassment.

The Guardian:

Another example is The Walking Dead, which premiered in 2010 while we navigated the aftershocks of a global economic recession. The show resonated with viewers: the zombies were no longer fringe but normalized masses, familiar, like many friends and family jobless from the massive layoffs, clamoring for any work. Moreover, as fans will attest, the zombies are the least of the problem when you measure them against the humanity of the survivors.

It all echoes other horror stories that are real in our society, where we over-police and criminalize the poor. As my colleague Steven Thrasher noted in a recent column, some are even ordered to give blood or face incarceration. The questions that dystopic narratives – and being black, or poor, in America today – raises for all of us boil down to, will I make it through?

The Daily Beast:

The current season of The Handmaid’s Tale has been brutal. And so has America as of late. When the show, based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, premiered on Hulu last year, critics and viewers discussed its relevance during that political climate. This could happen in America—to America. That was the general consensus of much of its viewership, failing to recognize the long history of abuses portrayed on the show committed in real life—in America—against Black, Latinx, indigenous and other women of color.

Even so, the election of Donald Trump felt like a precursor to the menaces, dehumanization and persecutions of the most vulnerable people in America, and the show was playing out the what-if’s that were well on their way to being realities.

All of the above — and there’s plenty more where that came from — is self-important, pseudo-intellectual crap. Total nonsense.

Let me put it this way… If Dystopia Porn is indeed a reaction to America’s anxiety over poverty, insecurity, racism, and blah, blah, retard, blah, what that means is that since about 2010, when Dystopia Porn really took off, we’ve been living through the worst of times — which by any objective measure, simply isn’t true.

The truth, the unvarnished and unimpeachable truth, is that for the last decade, thanks to the miracle of America, we’re living through the very best of times… The era of penicillin and too much to eat and central heating and refrigeration and the light bulb and air conditioning and cheap goods and the end of the Cold War and a computer in your pocket and a country filled with vastly different people who live together in almost perfect harmony… Which means that if you’re still anxious over these times, it only proves you’re a big fucking baby.

And the fact that you’re a big fucking baby, the fact that you’re wringing your hands over Trump’s next tweet or having to pay for your own college education or that free speech sometimes makes you uncomfortable, says nothing about the times in which we live. It only says something about you, and what it says is that you’re a big fucking baby.

If you’re having trouble sleeping because someone somewhere is using the wrong pronoun, or you can’t keep up with everything in your Netflix queue, or some actor holds a political opinion, or some RV park where you don’t live outlaws the American flag, or you have too many healthcare options, or you had to “press two for English,” or someone said “bossy,” that says nothing about the anxiety of our times and everything about how you’re a big fucking baby.

Of course there are things that still matter. I’m not endorsing nihilism. We should all follow current events, have our say, and vote. And of course there are things that will always fill us with anxiety: illness, death, concern for our loved ones, and the like. That’s not what I’m talking about. All of that has been around for eons.

What I am talking about is why, after the miracle of America has solved almost every major human problem, we’re so attracted to Dystopia Porn.

And I say “we,” because I include myself. This is not a lecture from on high.

I’ll start to answer the question with this…

 

The Abundance of Abundance

That’s what I call what we have achieved here in America — the abundance of abundance. The mentally ill and addicted are an altogether different problem, but come on… No one can argue poverty exists anymore in America.

Oh, sure, because the Poverty Pimps gotta pimp, we still draw this arbitrary line and claim everyone who lives below it is poor. But when the poor’s biggest health crisis is obesity, I don’t want to hear it.

America’s poor enjoy medical care, decent housing, central heating, air conditioning, microwaves, free K-12 education, TV, Internet, and cell phones.

So don’t talk to me about poverty anymore.

In the 200,000 year history of the homo sapien, this has only been true for about the last 50 of those years. I’ll be returning to this important fact later.

 

Safety First and Last

Do you have any idea how safe we are in this country?

Look at the violent crime rates compared to just 35 years ago.

Look at how for the last 100 or so years, all of our wars have been fought in someone else’s country.

Look at how for the last 50 or so years, all of our wars have been fought by someone else’s son.

Look at how a mafia that was once a fact of urban life is now all but extinct.

Look at how we put warning labels on hair dryers warning people not to use them in bath tubs, and signs on plastic bags not to put them over our heads.

Look at our personal health. My grandfather’s generation worried about polio, smallpox, tuberculosis, infections; things we take a pill for now, things that have been eradicated with a simple inoculation.

Cancer is no longer a death sentence.

AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence.

We are living longer and healthier thanks to chemistry and a country that is absurdly safe.

 

Free Time

This is something no one ever talks about — the miraculous luxury of free time.

It’s not just the 40 hour work week, it’s the miracle of time-saving devices and inventions that make the chores that broke our grandparents’ backs simple and easy.

We throw our clothes in washers and dryers and go watch TV. When my grandmother was first married, she used washboards and wringers and clotheslines.

We cook food without gathering wood.

We gather food at a grocery store instead of slaughtering and growing and canning it ourselves.

We eat via apps that have our fast food delivered. Obesity brought straight to your door.

We set the thermostat instead of shoveling coal in a cold furnace at four a.m. — like my father did.

Water, even hot water, need not be hauled or heated. We just turn a knob.

We don’t even get ourselves up to change the channel anymore.

Talk about free time…

The average American spends four hours a day in front of the TV.

Check this out: “American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media, according to a new study by market-research group Nielsen. That’s up from nine hours, 32 minutes just four years ago.”

Eleven hours … a day!

Eleven hours farting around with an electric screen… a day!

Talk about apathy.

In 1890, full-time manufacturing employees worked an average of 100 hours per week. We now average just 44 hours.

And yet, we’re still…

 

Ignoring the Lesson of ‘Star Trek’

Today, the average American carries around everything … in his pocket. And I do mean…

Everything.

You see, that’s not an iPhone in your pocket, it’s a window that gives you instant access to the world’s accumulation of art, philosophy, wisdom, science, and faith.

Most every book ever written, every painting, film, photograph, sculpture, fact, piece of history, biography, TV show, piece of music; everything about science, literature, philosophy, architecture, biology, the humanities… it’s all right there in our pockets…

And what are we doing? We’re jerking off on Twitter and with Angry Birds and buying crap on eBay and posting selfies and signaling our own virtue.

And yes, I say “we.”

Again, this is not a lecture from on high.

In the 50 short years since the show premiered, America has achieved the future Star Trek envisioned — a society that has eradicated prejudice and poverty — and we’re squandering it in a quest for “likes” and “upvotes;” we’re squandering it on two-minute videos of some asshole falling off a roof, Cardi B’s latest violence against decency, keeping up with the Kardashians, and wait till you hear about our porn consumption.

That’s not how this was supposed to work.

What Star Trek envisioned was a society that — once freed from manual labor, prejudice, and poverty;  and blessed with free time and access to the world’s knowledge —  would use this miracle of abundance as a means to better ourselves, to educate ourselves, and to not be a bunch of fucking babies offended by something as stupid as words. Watch this…

But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century we’ve learned not to fear words. 

If only…

So here we are, at long last with the luxury and tools to learn, to discover, to teach ourselves, to improve ourselves. But what are we doing instead…

 

Instead of Improving Ourselves, We’re ‘Improving’ Everyone Else

Here we are, blessed like no other people in history, blessed with the time to learn another language, to read the collected works of the world’s great minds, to teach ourselves how to paint or sculpt or play an instrument…  But instead of bettering ourselves, we’ve become a nation of woketards, of bossypants using the miracle of this technology to bully others into “improving” themselves.

The time we could use to learn another language, we’re abusing to police everyone else’s language.

The time we could use to learn to paint or sculpt, we’re abusing to police everyone else’s art.

The time we could use to read Shakespeare, we’re abusing to fire off hot takes about how Shakespeare is “problematic.”

The time we could spend learning from those who have already lived a full life, we’re abusing to attack them as racists and reactionaries, as in the way. Instead of caring for them in their dotage, which is what we’re wired to do because it blossoms our own empathy and patience, we toss them into old folks homes.

The time we could use to rediscover the Great Masters of any art form, we piss away pretending 21 sexless, China-approved Marvel movies are something other than carnival rides.

Let put this in the starkest way possible…

Over the course of a decade or so, It took about five billion collective man hours to put a man on the moon.

In 2016, in just one year and on just one website, we watched 92 billion collective hours of porn.

What are we doing to ourselves?

I’ll tell you what we’re doing, we’re…

 

Replacing God with Cheap Stuff

The numbers don’t lie. The more abundance there is, the more we turn away from God.

Here we finally are, blessed with the free time to seek God, to know God, to explore the miracle of Creation and Resurrection, to work through the questions of life and death, to explore the eternal mysteries, and we piss it all away on pot and social media, on PornHub, and Netflix.

Hey, I’m no prude, and I’m sure Plato and Socrates and Jesus all took time out to horse around and unwind with some mindless fun. There’s nothing wrong with a little comfort TV. There’s nothing wrong with looking at pretty girls or shooting the shit over a beer. That’s not what I mean.

Look at how we’ve turned politics into a religion, complete with end of the world prophecies (Climate Change) and all the strict morality (Woketardism), but none of the forgiveness, none of the grace, no second chances.

Come on, what are we doing to ourselves?

I’ll tell you what… We’re hollowing ourselves out. We’re husks, adrift without purpose. We’re bored to tears, bored to the edge of madness.

And this is…

 

Why Dystopia Porn Is So Appealing

Think about this…

Seriously, think about it…

What happens if the world comes to an end, if everything we know comes crashing down, if all of a sudden nothing is easy and danger lurks everywhere…? What happens is that as individuals, we’re forced to focus again on what matters. To begin with, we’ll again be filled with a real purpose, a purpose that matters.

For about 199,925 of the 200,000 years in the life of the homo sapien, we were forced to fight and struggle and worry about things we now take for granted: food and shelter. Which means that for the sake of the survival of the species, we are obviously hardwired to fulfill that purpose. But now that purpose is gone. In modern America, food and shelter are the least of our concerns.

The apocalypse returns that purpose.

There’s something exciting about survivors risking their lives to scavenge canned goods. Of course there is. That’s what we are all supposed to be doing. That is our purpose. But we don’t have to do that anymore. So we’re adrift.

What’s more, the end of the world also means we don’t have to go to our shitty, pointless jobs on Monday. No more making, selling, marketing, inventing, shipping, packaging, supervising advertising, and installing meaningless shit. Sure, making a living matters, but too much of our living revolves around meaningless junk like this.

When you’re a human being hardwired to provide for and protect the people you love, there is no amount of garbage you can buy on Amazon that will replace the sense of purpose that comes with bringing meat home from the hunt or eating something you grew yourself.

The end of the world also means we no longer have to worry about our status on Facebook or Instagram, or at work, school, or the local bar  — or whatever ridiculous subculture we’ve gotten ourselves into. So of course the apocalypse freeing us from that meaningless subculture is appealing,  because deep down inside we know just how stupid and shallow all of that is, how it monopolizes our lives and emotional space, how it wastes our energy and squanders the one thing you can’t buy from Amazon Prime: more time.

You see, all the so-called “experts” are wrong. The idea that Dystopia Porn somehow channels the anxieties of a people who have absolutely nothing to feel anxious about, who are richer in every way possible than any other time or place in our 200,000 year history, is just baby talk.

No, what Dystopia Porn channels is a desire buried deep within each of us to go back to the basics, to focus again on what matters: the noble cause of caring for and protecting our loved ones, the noble cause of improving ourselves and our families.

As a species, we see the apocalypse as freeing us from all the addictive nonsense that pollutes our lives, wastes our time, and curdles our spirit.

That’s the appeal of Dystopia Porn. That’s the yearning…

The challenge, then, is to fulfill that yearning without being forced to by the walking dead or nuclear annihilation.

I’m not saying you have to throw away your PlayStation and delete your Instagram account… I’m just talking about a little moderation.

And I don’t have the answer, not even for myself.

But I do know it’s better to be a seeker than a mindless consumer — better for the soul. And maybe the answer is found in the seeking, in the searching, in the trying to find the answer.

Maybe that’s good enough.

Either way, may God forgive us our squandering…

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.