A History of Evil in Popular Culture: What Hannibal Lecter, Stephen King, and Vampires Reveal about America

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Evil isn't simply an abstract theological or philosophical talking point. In our society, the idea of evil feeds entertainment, manifests in all sorts of media, and is a root concept in our collective psyche. This accessible and appealing book examines what evil means to us.

Evil has been with us since the Garden of Eden, when Eve unleashed evil by biting the apple. Outside of theology, evil remains a highly relevant concept in contemporary times: evil villains in films and literature make these stories entertaining; our criminal justice system decides the fate of convicted criminals based on the determination of their status as "evil" or "insane." This book examines the many manifestations of "evil" in modern media, making it clear how this idea pervades nearly all aspects of life and helping us to reconsider some of the notions about evil that pop culture perpetuates and promotes.

Covering screen media such as film, television, and video games; print media that include novels and poetry; visual media like art and comics; music; and political polemics, the essays in this book address an eclectic range of topics. The diverse authors include Americans who left the United States during the Vietnam War era, conservative Christian political pundits, rock musicians, classical linguists, Disney fans, scholars of American slavery, and experts on Holocaust literature and films. From portrayals of evil in the television shows The Wire and 24 to the violent lyrics of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse to the storylines of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter books, readers will find themselves rethinking what evil is—and how they came to hold their beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationSanta Barbara, CA, USA
PublisherPraeger
Volume2
Edition1
Number of pages825
ISBN (Print)978-0-313-39770-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-313-39771-4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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