The programme was split up into case studies representing different walks of society just like this. The ‘self-sufficient hippy’ as labelled by tweeters was the most hated character which I found astonishing. The man, had a generator, grew a lot of his own produce, and generally tried to live as autonomously as possible which lead to his downfall as he was targeted and attacked by neighbours – much like he was targeted and attacked on twitter for being a “smug git” – smart you mean? Such hypothetical jealousy is also an interesting thing to observe. Such jealousy that is atypical of a ‘Lord of the Flies’ type situation, the person who is most prepared to look his family gets villainised. At the end of the film, he succumbed to this ‘peer pressure’ if you like pushed on him by his wife and wider society which resulted in him resentfully looting (with a promise to pay) and killing a man in the process. This I feel is the kind of attitude western governments have towards so called ‘developing’ nations – ignorance, and envy of a simpler time.
This train of thought was actually nodded to in the film, as the camera panned past the book ‘The Bottom Billion’ which appeared in the ‘hippy’ house. My personal hashtag to the twittersphere was #FirstWorldProblems. As pointed out by other tweeters – the majority of the world population go a good percentage of their lives without ever having electricity. It is big businesses that have monopolised basic needs in such a way that is reliant on a finite resource – life is actually possible without it, the west has just forgotten how (or had it ‘educated’ out of us). To live sustainably and avoid the horrors of such an occurrence we should learn from the nations that are more developed in self-sufficiency not look down on them for it. Simplicity always wins.
The feature is also adept at questioning the human nature in a multitude of other contexts such as parenthood, stereotypes and childhood. A parent in survival mode is very different to a single male, and provokes a more extreme response. The stereotype of criminal is the most touching aspect of the programme, with the villain turned hero to a mother and her daughter. The innocence and vulnerability of all the minors depicted is somewhat admirable as they have no sense of prejudice at that age, and have an overwhelming desire to help others and treat them as equal; another aspect most people grow out of throughout the journey to adulthood, and governments grow out of the longer they are in power.
The other subtext which is notable is the strain on the NHS, always a contested topic. The people in that hospital charged on through against the odds, making difficult decisions in an impossible situation, doing the best they could with the limited resources available. This is happening too, like all of the other aspects discussed, the film just amplified it into something sensational as that is the only way to get people to sit up and take notice.
Racial tensions were explored between the hippy and his two Asian neighbours, who were portrayed as delinquent in comparison to the nuclear family he resided with. At first (as history teaches us), the crisis brought the neighbours together, but as the severity of the event intensified so did the young relationship they had started to form causing it to implode into violence and selfishness. This selfishness is another reflection of the UK’s attitude to ‘less developed’ countries, as we exclude and hold prejudice against that which is different outside our borders; in a time of crisis this mentality is amplified within our own walls.
My main conclusion from the feature and from the twittersphere was that the general feeling is that as a nation, we should be changing our consumption habits and moving towards a more sustainable way of living. But will one programme prompt this? No. Can anything make us (myself included FYI) give up our iPhones, our TV’s, and our general extravagant and unnecessary lifestyle that leads to increased isolation and down-skilling? Probably not; Brits are blind to this bigger picture. But one thing that can be taken from this is that we should champion cultures and nations that can live without all the technological gumpf we fill out otherwise empty lives with; not chastise them and try to change them for our own monetary gain.