The nuclear family bunker

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching some horror movies dealing with families who have locked themselves away from mortal threats in a post-catastrophe future America. Horror reflects broader cultural anxieties, so I guess there’s something in these tales of families in a bunker — It Comes by Night and A Quiet Place — that people relate to. (I’d also include 10 Cloverfield Lane in the discussion, but there the “family” is a demonic parody construct.) Basically these films take cocooning (a word invented by Faith Popcorn in 1981, I was surprised to find out) to its furthest extreme. The bunker-cocoon insulates the family from threats real or imagined, which have come to define the entire external world.

Of course bunkers are nothing new, as fallout shelters became popular in America as early as the 1950s. What’s going on now feels different though, less afraid of things to come than what’s outside our doors right now. I wonder if there’s any connection to our use of the Internet and the way we consume media generally, where we increasingly inhabit silos of news that we feel comfortable with while being distrustful of everything else (that is, the reality beating on the door). Whatever else is going on, it seems paranoid to me.

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