This article originally appeared on VICE India.
It’s been rather refreshing spending a part of the lockdown with my parents over the past couple of weeks. Thanks to the miraculous wonders of WhatsApp forwards, they get a new update on COVID-19 that steers their belief towards a new stream of public consciousness. From China inventing the virus in a lab to claim world domination to what essential oil is good for you, they seem to have a finger on the pulse of this pandemic. I can’t tell if they believe it all or just pretend to do it so they can piss me off. Either way, we have managed to hit some common ground. While my mother, a devout Catholic woman, thinks that the Book of Revelation itself is in play for real this time, I, a staunch atheist, absolutely agree with her point of view.
I’m a sucker for dystopian fiction. The fact that one virus is making all of humanity reprioritise everything that we ever considered dear. For years now, one question has troubled my mind (and that of novelists and filmmakers): What’s going to get us first?
1. Climate change
2. World War III
3. A pandemic
4. A meteor collision
5. The four horsemen of the apocalypse (Trump, Modi, Putin and Bolsonaro, to be precise)
Well, now it’s looking closer to being: 6. All of the above.
The world as we know it has had a good run. And now, as we prepare for a new changed future, here’s what is possibly in store for us, as researched meticulously and predicted by dystopian films set in a post-apocalyptic Earth.
Goodbye, World Order
Back in March, Contagion became one of the most watched films online because everyone believed that it mirrored the situation unfolding in front of us pretty darn well. But while they found a vaccine for the disease in the film by the end, we are still rushing trial vaccines from Oxford, hoping this one works (unless you’ve been guzzling bleach and Tide pods—then you’re cured already!). What we are witnessing, however, is economies failing and being forced to open up again, further risking lives through community transmission. The frustration will boil over, economies will continue to crumble, rations will turn scant, and popular public sentiment will turn into mass riots and looting. Before we know it, we’ll be in Mad Max: Fury Road territory, fighting off stuntmen on bikes whilst driving water tankers.
Big Brother is Watching
If being under perennial lockdown wasn’t enough, people are also being minutely monitored now more than ever. With health status apps keeping a track of your literal whereabouts, and constant police assaults and barricading, the future looks rather bleak for humans. Well, we more or less sacrificed our freedom when we refused to stop fucking even after the virus took people in droves. So yeah, we are now where the characters of V for Vendetta found themselves before it all went to shit. As in the movie, now our governments can track us way too easily, getting out at night is risqué, and everyone’s wearing a mask! On the other hand, 1984 is very easy to remember as a password.
Gone Babies Gone
One of the biggest fears most heteros deal with is not leaving their legacy behind. With every passing generation leaving a smaller footprint on Earth, one only wonders if in the near future, kids will even develop full immunity after birth, if they are born of COVID-19 infected parents. The garish reality of Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece Children of Men plays out very similarly. Or they might just harvest kids like in The Matrix. Either ways, Bourn Vita sales are going to be affected.
Vegans are going to have an especially difficult time in the future, because in the absence of human labour to squeeze milk out of almond and soy, we will be most probably left with nothing but each other to nibble on. Much like in Snowpiercer or Soylent Green, humans gotta eat, and sometimes, the second part of that sentence is other humans.
Planet of the Apes
Animals roaming about freely in civilisation is all we needed in the middle of the pandemic to feel even shittier about staying inside. Some dude got to feed a peacock while I masturbated for the seventh time that day. Either way, it’s a good thing someone made Planet of the Apes trilogy to remind us that humans are not THE shit and the world is better off without us in the time to come. That’s right, the future is Animalia.
Techno Futuristic Funk
If nothing else, there’s perhaps still hope that the ruins of modern-day cities and cultures might just spawn something so beautifully messed up and neon-tinted, that no filmmaker will have to think twice before making films like Blade Runner.
No matter which way you look at it, humanity is pretty much screwed. Now it’s up to us to start fretting and worry about what comes next or laugh till death comes for us. I personally cannot wait for the #endoftheworld selfie challenge on Instagram.
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