Sunday, March 18, 2012

doomsday has its day in the sun...,

NYTimes | Television has long been full of “Americans” (“American Restoration,” “American Chopper,” “American Hoggers”) and “Extremes” (“Extreme Marksmen,” “Extreme Makeover,” “Extreme Couponing”) and “Tops” (“Top Gear,” “Top Chef,” “Top Shot”). In recent weeks, though, an interloper has staked a claim: “Doomsday.”

Last month the National Geographic Channel introduced “Doomsday Preppers,” a Tuesday-night reality series about people who are stockpiling, arming and otherwise preparing for some kind of apocalypse. Last week it was the Discovery Channel’s turn. Its new “Doomsday Bunkers,” on Wednesday nights, is about Deep Earth Bunker, a company that builds underground getaways for the types of people seen in “Doomsday Preppers.”

Watch either show for a short while and, unless you’re a prepper yourself, you might be moderately amused at the absurd excess on display and at what an easy target the prepper worldview is for ridicule. Watch a bit longer, though, and amusement may give way to annoyance at how offensively anti-life these shows are, full of contempt for humankind.

“Doomsday Preppers” introduces an array of end-of-civilization types who at first seem surprisingly varied. These preppers live all over the country, in rural areas, suburbs and cities. Each has a different reason for turning a perfectly adequate home into a canned-food warehouse or building an escape hideaway (or bug-out location, to use the prepper term) in the mountains. One expects the North and South Poles to swap places, one a global economic collapse, one “an electromagnetic pulse that will disable the transportation system of the United States.”

But the people on this show and the customers of Deep Earth Bunker are more alike than diverse. Who knows how representative these shows are of the prepper universe, but the people they feature are disproportionately white. They can’t speak for long without employing that cliché involving excrement and a fan. And whatever their religious beliefs might be, something “Preppers” doesn’t generally explore, most of them put their real faith in firearms.

“Preppers” and “Bunkers” are both full of footage of people firing or lovingly cradling their weaponry, which in many cases is frighteningly extensive. (You really don’t want the guy in last week’s “Preppers” living next door; in addition to a house full of ammunition, he has stockpiled 50 gallons of gasoline, an unsettling combination.) One notable exception was Kathy Harrison, a New England woman profiled on a recent “Preppers.”

“It’s easy to feel a little left out of the prepper community if you live in New England and if you’re not fairly right wing and conservative politically,” she said in the segment. “But I just don’t spend my time worrying about stockpiling guns and ammunition, because our security comes not from stockpiling weapons but from having a community that respects each other, supports each other, and we have each others’ backs.”

A noble sentiment. But the unmistakable impression left by these programs is that what these folks want most of all is not to protect their families — the standard explanation for why they’re doing what they’re doing — or even the dubious pleasure of being able to say to the rest of us, “See, I told you the world was going to end.” What they want is a license to open fire.


John Kurman said...

I am seriously resisting the urge to purchase an extra large mallet and play Whack-a-Mole with this guy in the picture.

Tom said...


Gee Chee Vision said...

Did you check some of the comments below the article?
Don Williams

Collapse does happen -- read Jared Diamond's book on the subject.
Putin and China have the weapons to turn our major cities into smoking
rubble. Germany was a decent place in 1913 --later, not so much. Is
this the New York Times which gave us such a timely warning in 2007 of
Wall Street's condition?

2) The biggest "prepper" of all is the US Government -- see Wiki's
article on "Continuity of Operations Plan". Some tools FEMA says it
plans to use in a major disaster:

a) Tight controls on travel

b) Mandatory registration at the post office

c) Tight food rationing with rewards for supportive behavior

d) Military draft imposed on all adults to ensure they continue working

3) Last year, One of the best selling books on Amazon was an account by a
writer named Ferfal re the collapse of Argentina in 2001. It
describes what happens when your nice middle class neighborhood becomes a
high crime ghetto, starvation becomes rampant and people become
desperate. On the other hand, Ferfal also points out the idiotic
behavior of US preppers: That isolated country retreat means bandits
can torture you and your family at leisure.

What works is (a)
being part of a tight-knit village (even in urban neighborhoods) where
people defend/help each other or (b) having money to emigrate to a
better place. In the meantime, unarmed people don't fare very well.

CNu said...

The comments are always the best part of nearly any of these articles.

DD said...

Totems for scrotums. As if any of these dudes will make it through anything. If you are an antisocial loser now, just wait until there is some form of shortage-- greedy troglodytes with poor communication skills aren't exactly going to the front of the line. I figure however many friends you have now will be cut by 90% in any crisis. So fat guys with five buddies aren't going to have that 24/7 support staff they are anticipating..l

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