Guns & Bunkers: Or How to Enjoy "Doomsday Preppers" and the Truth About That Asteroid Crashing Into a Crater Near You

So the quirkiest angle of the success of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) was that we could all recognize what Discovery Channel shows Cormac had been watching, once you realize that the mysterious cataclysm that has befallen the world is some kind of “impact event,” to use the scientific (or quasi-scientific) term for a big asteroid/comet hitting the earth and causing mass destruction. One of the most intense (happy, almost) moments of the novel occurs when the father and son stumble upon a doomsday bunker of sorts in a back yard, one that is stocked with Canned Goods for the Apocalypse, one that saves their lives. After the grimness of the novel leading up to that moment, it’s a ray of light in a bleak world.
Enter the Discovery Channel’s and the National Geographic Channel’s new programs about just the kind of people who would build such bunkers, “Doomsday Preppers” and “Doomsday Bunkers”—as opposed to Doomsday Debunkers, which would be a different program altogether. “Doomsday Preppers” is amusing in a queasy, gruesome, black-humor mode: Most of these people look like they need a diet and some yoga to chill out, and perhaps some visits with a therapist, as well (not that it would help). One woman expects the government to declare martial law and “take over” in the next year or two: Take over what? Doing my laundry? I hope so. Answering my email? Go for it. Somehow, I’m guessing that’s not what she means by the things they would “take over.” It frankly seems part of the nutty Obama-is-after-our-guns myth that has been promoting gun sales to record levels, even though Obama is doing no such thing.
A TV critic in the NY Times has some funny (and some serious) observations about these programs, here:

But I think the reality behind these preppers is: They actually want the Apocalypse to come. Not in a rational way, but in an irrational, religious-extremist kind of way. If you spend much of your time & energy (& money) preparing for such an event, won’t you be somewhat chagrined if/when it doesn’t happen? That’s what fuels the phrase, “It’s not If, but When.” If the phrase is edited to be “Probably Never or in a Long Time or When We Least Expect It Is More Accurate,” it’s not much of a selling point.
We all want something big to happen in our lives. But some more than others.

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