Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nerd Word of the Week: Econopocalypse

Brown mondayImage by Latente 囧 via Flickr
Econopocalypse (n.) -- Slang term for a sudden and catastophic economic calamity, which results in the rise of a dystopic or even post-apocalyptic society. While the term is relatively new, econopocalyptic fiction isn't -- they just usually call it dystopian fiction and ignore its economic bent. George Orwell's 1984, Ayn Rand's Anthem, and Lois Lowry's The Giver are all arguably econopocalyptic fiction, though at least in Lowry's case the economic aspect of the dystopia -- state control of the economy -- is secondary to the state control of human consciousness. This brings up an important point; real-world economic distress often leads to a rise in creation and consumption of dystopian or apocalyptic fiction, though rarely is that fiction directly econopocalyptic.

I bring it up because: The econopocalypse is the new zombie apocalypse, at least according to Barack Obama's State of the Union Address last night. It was interesting to juxtapose the political crossfire over how to combat the presumed jobless recovery we're staring down after the subprime cirsis with Apple's fanboy-entrancing release of the iPad, a computer that is part phone, part laptop, and all status symbol. Clearly, we're not nearing a post-consumerist society, so far as St. Jobs is concerned, but then Steve wouldn't mind being the Big Brother in charge of the new media economy. Maybe that's why the iPad didn't ship with a viewer-facing camera -- too much of a tipoff that Big Steve is watching. In any case, times of economic unrest often inspire dystopian fiction, but whether we stay with the zombie track (as is indicated by AMC's Frank Darabont-helmed option for Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead series) or we get a new econopocalypse-styled dystopian breed in line with Jeff Somers's Electric Church remains to be seen. In either case, a lack of money will probably be good for the downer spec-fic business. Ironic.