W.P. Norton

The coming world war

In W.P. Norton on June 24, 2016 at 10:32 pm
Fortune-telling is a mostly pointless exercise, but I think the epidemic of gun violence that is unfolding in our cities, as well as on film, television, Netflix and other video platforms is predictive of a global paroxysm of violence in the very near future.
A Third World War, if you like. Almost no show or film worth watching lacks gun violence, mass casualties, or both. And I think I know why. Something in the Zeitgeist is preparing us, desensitizing us, for mass violence on a scale never suffered since the dawn of man.
More than a century ago, Tolstoy wrote an essay on the tobacco epidemic in Europe. Why, he asked, were millions of people embracing the addiction to this substance whose chief effect is to numb the emotions? His conclusion: to become ready, or to be made ready, for the mechanized slaughter of war that he was certain would come.
Tolstoy died in 1910. Seventeen million died and 11 million were wounded in the global war of 1914-1918. I am watching the film “Mad Max: Fury Road” right now, and the horror it depicts is beyond my ability to describe. I fear we are careening toward another world war. Belgium, Paris, Berlin, Orlando, San Bernardino, and the other explosions of violence that have erupted in the last string of months may be the first flashpoints of this war.
I give it five to ten years.
  1. Hmmm.. Westworld and The Walking Dead (very entertaining shows, I must say) are doing very well. They share a theme of killing the not-quite-but-nearly-human if you know what I mean. Almost like an excuse for the very ‘normal’ characters – children included in the case of TWD – to kill lots of other humans in very brutal fashion. As far as the human enemy in TWD goes, they’re fair game simply because they are other ‘normal’ (non-poitically or motivated groups) folks who have ‘turned’ due to the lawless nature of the post apocalypse situation.


    • “D” makes the timely connection to HBO’s Westworld, the season finale of which climaxes with–wait for it–a mass shooting. What a disappointing endpoint to an otherwise fascinating, thought-provoking and imaginative show that flashes with bursts of real genius.


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