We have always been fascinated by post-apocalyptic scenarios, whether they be alien invasions, zombie outbreaks, monsters rising from the sea or catastrophic weather changes. Channel 4’s Blackout gave us a story that hit far closer to home.
A nationwide power cut is not something that many of us ever worry about, yet it is probably one of the most likely causes of the breakdown of civilisation that has been put on screen. Compiled in a documentary style format, with facts interspersed within footage filmed on people’s phones and cameras it had a very authentic feel to it. The action was claustrophobic and gave the viewer a sense of the chaos and darkness that the characters were experiencing. Although some of the story lines were a tad predictable it was effective in begging the question: what would you do in that situation to survive? The characters went from laughing it off to taking extreme measures in the face of starvation and death.
The programme hit home how much we rely on electrical power and how, even though films that deal with situations such as the zombie apocalypse glamorise post-apocalyptic survival and inspire people to come up with their own plans for making it, the reality is far harsher and more grim. Even with huge amounts of preparation and forethought none of us are really prepared for our comfortable world to break down, and only the most callous and selfish will make it.
Throughout the show, footage from the London riots that swept across the country in 2011 were used to portray society deteriorating into utter chaos. Many of these images were already very familiar and are still as shocking now as they were then. The fact that real footage of society breaking down is readily available to us, shows that stuff like that does not need a cause as dramatic as a nationwide power cut. They have happened and will happen again.
The power cut for Channel 4’s endeavour was just a back drop to show a very real problem within our society and human nature on a wider scale. With a legitimate protest getting out of hand which was then used as an excuse by many to spread the word via technology, encouraging people to loot and commit crime, it seemed too easy for things to descend into chaos as quickly as they did. Almost as if people are constantly on the verge of it anyways. This means that Channel 4’s ‘fiction’ could easily become reality for us in just the blink of an eye and that, ultimately, is the real message of Blackout.