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Ambivalent apocalypse: The influence of the Book of Revelation in films and television

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Apocalyptic texts are a popular genre of film and television that commonly present humanity as decimated, or threatened by decimation. Zombie apocalyptic themes have become popular and are seen in 28 Days later (Boyle, 2002), I am Legend (Lawrence, 2008), The Walking Dead (2010–present) and Fear the Walking Dead (2015–present). Other films feature further other end-of-the-world scenarios, including cataclysmic natural disasters, pestilence and invasion. There are numerous examples of post-apocalypse texts, including Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968), Mad Max 2 (Miller, 1981), Reign of Fire (Bowman, 2002), The Day After Tomorrow (Emmerich, 2004), Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006), Left Behind (Armstrong, 2014) and Knowing (Proyes, 2009). The focus of the narrative in these texts, whether it be zombie plague or extinction-level event asteroid, is on how the characters in these stories come to terms with disaster, either before or after the apocalyptic event. Other texts examine cataclysmic events that befall the earth, such as Deep Impact (Leder, 1998), The Day After Tomorrow (2004) or 2012 (Emmerich, 2009). All these texts highlight prevailing attitudes and cultural anxieties, and can also be discussed in terms of the differences in the representation of disaster after September 11, 2001. This article examines the connection of these texts to religious prophecies from the Bible (Revelation) and how popular culture texts demonstrate an ambivalent relationship to predictions of apocalypse.
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Keywords: Bible; apocalypse; film; prophecies; religion; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Auckland University of Technology

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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