Sunday, January 10, 2010

After Armageddon on the History Channel

WOW! just WOW! After Armageddon is the most realistic portrayal of what would happen in America after a worldwide pandemic that I have ever seen on TV!

OK the last five minutes was the standard Hollywood claptrap about how the world would be better off without cities and how the cities could never be rebuilt (which begs the question: How were they built in the first place?) and peace and yada and love and yada and so on. But I noticed that if you look closely you'll see guys with rifles on guard on the roof of that ultra modern architecture house as they roll the closing credits.

The show depicts a family of sheeple living in the Los Angeles area when a Southeast Asian virus spreads world wide in a matter of days and soon mostly depopulates the human world. Or as the History Channel puts it:
"The disappearance of water and food supplies, the effects of deteriorated sanitation and health care on the remaining population, and the increased use of violence as a means of survival--all illustrate how societies have responded and survived."

Without the skilled people to run them communications (phone, Internet, transportation and utilities begin to shut down.

The protagonist, Chris Johnson, is a paramedic who refuses to believe there is anything seriously wrong until he sees panic buying in the grocery stores and violence in the streets. Even then he and his wife and teenage son refuse to make any meaningful plans as they hunker down in their home. The program points out viruses usually complete their cycle in about 90 days and that most homes have only a three days supply of food on hand while grocery stores restock every "one to one and a half days" on average. Or as one expert put it: "We're nine meals away from anarchy."

Finally hunger forces Chris out of the house on what turns out to be a clue finding mission. Seeing looters two blocks from his house he tries to "go gray" (a survivalist term not the films) by scattering trash and clothes outside to make it look like their house has already been looted.

In a true TEOTWAWKI situation I'd be inclined to let looters break in and then take them out with small caliber weapons whose report wouldn't be heard far outside the house and later scatter the bodies on the front lawn to discourage others, but that's just me.

As looters finally force them from their LA home they pack hurriedly (the show's onscreen experts give an all too brief explanations of what BOB (Bug Out Bag) & GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bags are. That's the first time I've seen such references outside of earthquake & hurricane preparedness segments on TV shows) pack and throw everything, more than they can carry and no backpacks, into their car and try to leave LA for somewhere in Idaho.

I give the show credit for admitting that people will need guns to survive in the aftermath of a TEOTWAWKI event.

In explaining what people are likely to do in a catastrophe the onscreen experts (often in voiceover mode) frequently reference people's reactions during and after Hurricane Katrina.

After Armageddon also reminded viewers that in order to prepare for disaster, it will be important to be aware that you will need to defend yourself and understand that survival may require force and violence. When people move into survival mode, they do not act as they normally would - civilized and peaceful.

As one expert put it: "We don't have many cases of mass migrations that go peacefully."

One expert on After Armageddon surmised that foraging after a disaster would become a necessary part of survival. As he stated, "foraging is a nice word for looting". This illustrates that disaster changes people and changes their behavior - a common theme in After Armageddon.

Another expert said it best: "We like to think that moral progress has made us nice people. We've heard that our distant ancestors were mean and cruel and ruthless, and we can't imagine that we would be such people - but we're nice mainly because we're rich and comfortable. And when we're no longer rich and comfortable, we won't be as nice."

Through a series of unlikely events and miraculous luck the (for most of the time) unarmed family eventually arrives in Idaho to start their new lives wherein they learn, among other things, that an abandoned car in the hot sun makes a good dehumidifier.

One thing they did that I disagree with was using storm drains and sewers to get out of the city on foot in the daytime. Such avenues of egress are not meant for foot traffic and expose those in them to ambush. Better to travel quietly at night and hold up during the day.

There are plenty of other tactical errors, but I'll leave them for you to discover as you watch the show.

A short list if concepts shown but not articulated:
Never camp, rest or stop on roads or trails.
Avoid fellow refugees, they'll be eager to "share" whatever you've got.
Very few have the skills and/or supplies needed to survive TEOTWAWKI.

Overall I give After Armageddon an A for an accurate depiction of what would probably happen if a TEOTWAWKI event were to occur.

The History Channel is already offering it for sale and it is the only History Channel show I've ever even considered buying.

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