Daniel Dell’Agli – Dennis Newack examines dystopian soap operas and movies for their realism – Article

Spy movie fans should be aware of what was revealed in 2013 Edward Snowden Not particularly surprised, he was Tony Scott In 1998’s “Enemy of the State,” the full scope of NSA surveillance and the techniques used for it made the subject of a talented movement (with Will Smith and Gene Hackman). The fact that screenwriters in such films not only possess true insider knowledge of Hollywood is easily forgotten about the entertainment value of the end products and is noted at best marginally or indirectly by critics with praise for the coherence of the plots.

media world Dennis Newack He has now reversed this reception relationship in order to trace the tacit knowledge of films and series from the point of view of what we can learn from them. For this purpose, he chose a genre of science fiction that was not by chance on the rise for three good decades: visual acuity And their dark visions of the end of our civilization. And in the sub-genre of obfuscation, i.e. the dramatic treatment of what necessarily turns out to be the greatest catastrophe to be expected, he finds something both noteworthy and thematic in times of increased power shortage.

“Power lines are the blood vessels of modern civilization, and the electricity flowing through them is the lifeblood of all modern facilities – from the tap to the automated stock exchange to the Internet,” Newack wrote. “with fWidespread power outage It threatens the collapse of all modern life. Film and television attest to this constantly present but belittled danger publicly and politically… Films and series show that modern society as a whole as well as individuals are usually utterly unprepared for the failure of power on a large scale.”

In advance, the author informs in a separate chapter about the state of research in So reallEnergy crisis scenarios and its reasons” as well as the reminders to take precautions at the end, which had hitherto not been heeded in politics such as expert reports on epidemiological precautions at the time. Undoubtedly another reason to promote playful treatment of this problem in relevant narratives which also reach a larger audience By films and television more than by the voluminous messages of niche literature (one would have to speak separately of computer games, which for the most part give away the guaranteed fun factor of survival horror with this subject matter). Dozens of feature films And more than half a hundred series as primary witnesses, including the wonderful German production “Blackout” and “Tribes of Europa”, which he presents in detail and instructively. If one were to extract an essence from his analyzes, it would be humanity as we know it Unimaginably thin varnish About anthropological constants Bestiality potential he is.

Now this knowledge is not entirely new, black anthropology has finally reached us Wolfgang Sofskis It aligns with the desired clarity with the human inevitability entirely from real dystopias such as war, terrorism and corruption. However, the obfuscation is about the complete failure of all guarantees of our existence, which can surprise us at any time and out of nowhere. Because our civilized morality, including the rule of law that guarantees it, is suspended in the literal sense of the word On the power supply wire. Although it cannot be reduced to being the sole product of those comfortable living conditions made possible only by electricity, without electricity it cannot be maintained or can only be maintained for a short time. Blackouts are followed by blackouts, the collapse of the physical system is followed by the collapse of symbolic orders with little delay and after ten days of blackouts at the latest, disaster experts and scriptwriters agree that all over the remaining precious resources threatens not only the end of capitalism and its own comfort zones out, but the return to pre-modern life forms with losses to civilization is largely irreversible.

This is one reason why Newiak attaches so much importance to practical advice that can be gleaned from the many audiovisual variations on the topic (which he finally included in his “checklist”): “If blackout films and series have one thing in common then that common consciousness is that preventative care, small and large, is relatively easy to obtain: anyone can use one reasonable stock Using food, water, medicine, a battery-powered radio, a power bank, and a camping stove, you can easily make preparations to bypass widespread blackouts…”Solidarity also appears now and then as a spark of hope, when the villagers, for example, come in” Blackout” (Episode 3), to the cattle rancher to help milk the cows that would otherwise have been killed, of course they are hanging Also milking machines on the power source. But this is a solitary gesture of an exceptional character, perhaps conceivable only in the countryside.

The recommendation seems more realistic, Enough cash in reserve Which could be passed as a demand for politicians to finally set aside abolition of cash paid by financial service providers – under penalty of mass looting if, in the event of a power outage, no one can pay by card or withdraw money from an ATM. And not much should be remembered that only solar panels and/or wind turbines on the roof can effectively protect against medieval backlash (provided you have an integrated storage system with battery and inverter!). In this way, the generalizable motto, in the event of a catastrophe that cannot be stopped or avoided, and take precautions to reduce its consequences, is to take precautions against power outages – questionable only when it is not. Speak – as the only method of prevention awaits us in the sign Climate change remains. Incidentally, climate change is not a “disaster”, as has been defiantly claimed recently, but an evolutionary process An endless chain of catastrophic odd events It will roll relentlessly through the twenty-first century.

All this may seem silly in practice, but nevertheless it heralds a new way of dealing with the parallel world of fantasy, which may well correspond to a new need. Thesis: If horror scenarios – eg a blackout situation – gain possibility, digital simulations on screens and screens threaten to become an emergency in an individual’s living room, the end user will be diminished Dual lust narcissistic anxiety, which usually accompanies the experience of horror. Instead of excitement, there is an interest in survival real expectation A possible failure of critical infrastructure erases the mythical symbols of the ritual strife of the apocalypse. Ordinary everyday life now promises to excite itself, albeit in such a way that we can gladly do without it.

So much for the careful projection of a conceivable paradigm shift that the preconditions for media theory are, however, debatable. Niewak herself relies on a model in which films and series can reveal “what is important in politics, business, culture, art, science and lifestyle” (Angela Keppler), meaning that relevant topics are recognized and addressed with the necessary expertise. At least for plays relating to the present, this applies only to a limited extent; So you can engage with The power of financial capital Rely on one hand for each contract. The few attempts to penetrate this less transparent and at the same time very complex issue (the most recent being the series “Bad Banks” and “Billions”) also largely revolve around internal power and competition games in a self-referential manner, without the horizon of impact on the real economy and indirect victims to consider speculative transactions .

In contrast, it is much more, paradoxically coined, The real fantasy of the future First of all it’s about licenses popular with the science fiction genre: when predicting hypothetical events, they don’t have to take into account historically documented events and, thanks to special effects, let the surreal icons of their stories run for free. But the main motive for dystopian fantasies is a Current pessimism based on facts, which extrapolates current trends into the future, similar to the authors of The Limits to Growth half a century ago when they predicted what has happened to the planet since then. In this light, future disasters (natural disasters, cyber attacks, nuclear winter) become known as an inevitable consequence of improving the uncontrollable and unattainable progress of the present. Accordingly, the risks and future researchers like Ulrich Beck or Eve Horn She agrees that “only through visualization, the staging of global risks, does the future of catastrophe become present” (Beck). Then fictional apocalyptic scenarios will have an important psycho-psychological mission to threaten the standards of civilization and the possible at any time. The beginning of the emergency To raise awareness – which the daily disaster news did not work out, even those related to severe droughts, floods of the century or epidemics. However, it is questionable whether the relatively radically designed visions of horror are actually understood as warnings and implemented in appropriate precautionary measures.

Because a good portion of movies and series, whether intentionally or unintentionally, investigate rather socially – psychologically. relief functionBy presenting stories, heroes, and scenarios whose fantastic nature almost precludes conclusions about familiar living environments – massive earthquakes, solar storms, aliens – and even with weak narrative logic, he inspires ignorance that one is dealing with mere imagination. But even with realistic simulation, you can safely write off a large part of the scary effects as entertainment earnings. George Cecillin He puts it in a nutshell: “We have always had the law of dystopia in film and television; the most catastrophic circumstances are familiar to us, and only by a certain escalation or a violent look or an increase in irony and/or technology is still far from our miserable twilight.”

At least it is conceivable that thanks to increased environmental (and energy-related) literacy and under the pressure of real escalating crises including approaching tipping points A health warning replaces the lust for doomsday folklore. In this context, Newiak’s Blackout feed reads like a catalog of suggestions to wake up from the twilight consumption of harrowing backdrops of images and sounds and see the panic of bloated emergency communities through the eyes of those potentially affected. We would gain a lot for now if, next winter, we could put our hands on the millions of newly purchased fan heaters, the operation of which would overload and collapse the power grid at the latest after nuclear power plants. It has been closed.

Danielle Degli


Dennis Newack, black out. Nothing works anymore. How can we prepare for blackouts for movies and TV series. Schüren Verlag 2022. (Order in eichendorff21)

In addition to:

Wolfgang SofskyHorror times. Fisher 2002
Angela KeplerCurrent media. Suhrkamp 2004
Eve HornThe future as a disaster. hunter 2014
Ulrich Beck, the world turned. Suhrkamp 2017
George Cecillin in media discourse: “Big Reality – Animation”

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