On the Beach
On the Beach, as you all saw, is a pretty bleak window on our potential future. Not to say that the future view wasn't more than a bit bleak in The Omega Man and Earth Abides what with the apocalypse and all, but at least for those the story didn't end with the end of the book/film. There were a few people left to pick up the pieces or rebuild and life, though dramatically different, could go on.
I'm not sure if the class roles present in our pre-apocalyptic society (now that's pessimistic) would remain intact in a near-apocalytic world. I work on a different view... extremely good news (winning the lottery) or extremely bad news (winning the apocalypse) = no work for Joe. If the question of what the ultimate meaning of life, the universe and everything becomes so much more urgent than we normally consider it to be, I could no longer go through the motions of a meaningless job. I think if this were to occur people would through off the zombie persona and begin to live with a new vigour... just in time to be swept clean away.
On the other hand, there is great calm in routine, and this may be where the remaining people found their Zen.
It's good to see Hollywood deliver a bleak vision of the future that doesn't somehow turn into a happy or at least uplifting. Bad news sells better than good news except in Hollywood...
To the nuclear-weapons-toting leaders of the world: When your only defence is suicide and murder, is it even worth it to defend yourself? What makes one different from the enemy aggressor if one must employ these tactics? Where are the supposed values that most leaders claim to hold dear? Why weren't any Americans tried for war crimes after TWO nuclear attacks on Japan? Justice is nothing but the advantage of the stronger (Plato, Republic).
The point of science fiction, and fiction in general, is to challenge the reader in some way, by making us think of things in ways that we are not accustomed to. It serves as a means to point out our flaws and to identify that which is good in us. To show us a possibility that we should either avoid or work towards.
On the Beach serves to warn those in power of the consequences of their decisions and serves to rally those who aren't in power against the use of nuclear weapons. Hopefully it'll work...