Sunday, June 15, 2014

Notes for the End of the World: Goodbye World

2013, Denis Hennelly (Bold Native) -- download

Fingers are pushed through the remainders of hair product, forcing the hair up in madman stance. The stress the man on the bed is feeling is palpable, mirrored by a single vein pulsing on his forehead and the tautness of the tendons on his neck. He is over 40, wearing much more age in weight and lines around his eyes. He has been crying.

These are the opening words of my fictional novel. In it, our hero (??) is immersed deeply in apocalyptic fiction. He reads about the coming of The End and the science fiction days long after The End. He watches movies where The End is upon us, the earth shattering and plagues being released. War and famine and death in heart shattering multitudes. But like all, when the evidences are apparent in our real world, he misses them, he ignores them, until his droves of fictions come together like prophecy. And he sees what is really, truly happening around him. Madness or awareness? Not really sure. And definitely not autobiographical. Nope.

In Goodbye World we see The End through the eyes of the 20-something somewhat counter culture kids. Not, the young and poor on the streets on skateboards & smoking weed, but the new hippies and hackers and politicos, all thick with money and not hurting at all. Despite their very very apparent dependence on a world of plenty, they consider themselves apart from it all, one way or another. In a plot not unlike The Big Chill, where old friends are gathered for a weekend after a long separation, we see the gathering of these counter culture kids (I say kid, but late 20s early 30s is the demographic) along with their already tangible issues with each other. The End is happens around them, floating to the forefront and occasionally seeping out from under their personal trials.

 James (Adrian Grenier; Entourage and not-Aquaman, but no stranger than Jason Momoa being cast) is the center figure, a back-to-the-earth guy who could have only got there because he had tons of dot-com cash available to him, after a tense sale of his company. He is married to hippy extraordinaire, Lily, who also happens to be a hacker. She is the ex-fiance of his ex-business partner, now yuppie (what is the new term for well dress, heavy working lot?) Nick who is married to Xian, stuffy, ex-college roommate Becky (outstanding Caroline Dhavernas, who was schtuping Hannibal of late). Late to the party is hacker Lev, hipster dressed and a little upset about something he recently did, and politico Laura, who kinda wrecked her cred by blowing her boss and becoming a YouTube star. And then we have revolutionary Benji, fresh out of jail and preaching Against The Man with his college age fuck-bunny Ariel. We stuff them all together in James' hidden away north California home, off the grid (but great wifi) with water and power and food and weed and medicine, while the End of the World happens because of a nasty cell phone virus that is Taking Everything Down. Its not a question of recovering, The End is happening so its about riding it out.

This is a mostly talky kind of movie about survival and the state of human being. James is a bit of a dick, a bit of a survivalist but really has it together enough to survive the coming new age.  The problem is that some of his friends believe he should think about more people than those in the current gathering. What about his neighbours? What about the rest of the world? He is able to ignore them. Then again, add in a bit of a marital spat and he is able to kick out his friends and his wife. It takes a bit of violent, nasty reality for him to start getting it. As for the rest, some get it almost immediately, so fade out and some just get stoned. But none seem to get that the world is ending. They probably think a little bit like my fictional hero, that the end of the world might be a bit cool and that humans might just deserve it. They actually spend a few scenes sitting in lawn chairs watching something big in the distance burning away, like it was a beautiful sunset. Insert commentary on how morally vacant tech culture kids are.

The End is based on a cell phone virus. Turns out (**SPOILER**) two of our central characters are responsible for it. They. Have. Ended. The. World. Yes, a single virus spreads from cell phones to every system in the world. Its that standard myth that because all systems are based on computers, all computers are somehow connected and can talk to each other. So, a cell phone virus written in whatever code could end up talking to the power company and the streetlights and flight navigation and whatever. And if all those systems are gone, the world as we know will be gone too. Not. I think the world could be royally fucked for a few years, but it wouldn't be gone. It wouldn't become a Road Warrior wasteland, just one where computers would likely become more separated, the Internet a little less world wide and our freedoms even more curtailed. We would recover until the next time we fucked ourselves over. My hero would have to envision a much more devious Skynet kind of connectivity before he could become hair wringing depressed.