Special Report By Casey McCabe
In the 1981 movie "Escape from New York," the America of the late 1990s was so overrun by sociopathic criminals that the entire island of Manhattan was sacrificed as an apocalyptic prison colony. In the 1995 film "Strange Days," James Cameron envisioned the turn of the century — a mere four years away — as a battle between the forces of anarchy and a police state, waged in streets littered with random car fires and fogs of dry ice. In what seems like a century ago, but was actually last December, the film "End of Days" tried to get in the last word with its story of the Devil making a pre-millennial visit to America in search of a bride to share his reign of darkness on humanity. The real apocalypse apparently coming when this heavily marketed and carefully timed Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle failed to catch fire at all.
So when I finally did come out of my bunker this week, I found the only people waiting in long lines were merely trying to get into "Stuart Little," the number one movie in 21st Century America. And oh yeah…the number one TV show in America last week? "Beyond the Prairie: the True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder." One rating point ahead of "Touched by an Angel."
True, I also found the streets being commanded by grotesque urban assault vehicles, capable of crushing anything from a Mad Max movie. But I really don't think any of these soccer moms in their Isuzu Troopers have a cohesive strategy for their doomsday scenarios. The real pros at this sort of thing, if we're to believe the past decade of cinema thrillers, are the International Terrorists. Who to our great relief showed absolutely no sense of drama when given the opportunity. Now with peace talks in the Middle East and the specter of a democratic transfer of power in Russia, who will stand up to be counted among the forces of evil? Or is everybody too busy being touched by angels?
Let's face it, the apocalypse was a bust. Our last hope was a Y2K meltdown, and it's probably the last time we trust software engineers to come up with a good storyline. But we do have one more chance. I predict a short cool-down period, followed by the realization that this vaunted, prophetic millennium doesn't officially begin until January 1, 2001. Of course Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick understood the distinction years ago. When Kubrick gave us "2001: A Space Odyssey" in 1968, he elicited a few chuckles by showing the colonization of space as a corporate branding opportunity. That was 32 years ago, and Stanley, God bless him, may have been the only one to get the zeitgeist right.
© 2000 - Casey McCabe - Air Date: 01/05/00
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