Let’s All Joyfully Await The End Of Civilization With TV’s ‘Doomsday Preppers’
Ten years ago, if someone were to tell you they were buying a bunker and stocking it for the end of the world, you’d call them crazy. You’d probably say the same thing today, but you’d be yelling it at your teevee screen, thanks to a plethora of doomsday prepper shows that inexplicably give television exposure to people who turn their property into medieval fortresses.
The newest season of “Doomsday Preppers” just started on National Geographic Channel (which is clearly trading in respectability for relevancy) and it was partnered with a faux-documentary called “American Blackout,” a prepper’s wet dream.
The fauxmentary followed several “real” individuals who managed to keep a sustained charge in their cell phones for more than twelve hours without power during mass panic. Three days after the power went out, people were already starving and shooting each other as if we had reverted back to the dark ages.
Except of course not the prepper, because he had a plan and he stuck to it. Throwing the family into their “bug out” vehicle, he traveled to a compound deep in the woods (but not too deep as a neighbor is able to walk right onto the property???) and starts living a life that would make Paul Bunyan blush. It is truly a wonderland of canned goods, sleeping bags and survival living in the heart of nature.
Or it’s a nuthouse.
This is a pretty common occurence on “Doomsday Preppers.” Overzealous men and women who believe that something terrible is coming for them and society, so they start to bury tubes of silver in the yard, buy large shipping containers to live underground and force their families to play along. And you would think these would all be bearded mountain men, but you’d be wrong. There are teenagers, businessmen, old couples and all types of suburban families just lining up to buy junk and run off into the woods when the world “ends.” A memorable one is a gentleman who claimed to have two of everything, including his wife and her twin sister. He would spend his nights pretending to be a raider, crawling through their yard to test his family and their defensive skills. Fun for the whole family!
It’s the circus of life brought into our living rooms weekly thanks to NatGeo, slowly competing with History and Animal Planet for dumbest reality television concept of all time (Bigfoot is not real, they will never find him, what is your endgame?)
And worse yet, every episode is packed in tight with ads for freeze-dried food and survival equipment hosted by folks like Marie Osmond. Every commercial break is heralded by her pearly whites shilling for Wise Company 7-day freeze dried food kits, allowing you to eat like an astronaut in the comfort of your own home or jungle fort.
It is mainstream television that is trying to appeal to the Alex Jones generation. They’re selling solar generators and life straws which would be helpful on Peace Corps missions, to Midwestern housewives, who generally do not need such things unless they subscribe to an economy based solely on the “will they or won’t they” relationship between the planet and the apocalypse.
And people are buying into it hook, line and sinker.
Watching it is most definitely entertaining for all the wrong reasons and the pointing and laughing, but that still doesn’t mean it makes any sense. Sinking your supplies under the water in an effort to keep it away from hidden bandits is not helping you now.
It’s a strange lifestyle made stranger by the gung-ho, rah rah attitude that accompanies it into the television world. Where previously these people popped up to be cryptic and weird conspiracy theorists, now they’re being painted as heroic family men and women fighting against tyranny before it pops up. It’s “The Twilight Zone” shelter episode done in real time, with the normal folks begging to get in while the heroic prepper plans to ride out the storm in his fortification, looking like a genius. A lucky genius.
If Nat Geo is right and the doomsday preppers are our only hope, we’ll probably just stop hoping.
But we won’t stop watching.