A Summer of Apocalyptic Blockbusters. But Why?


Expert Pitch

From "World War Z" and "After Earth" to "Oblivion" and "Pacific Rim," many of this year's summer blockbusters begin with the end. Of everything.

Storytellers' obsession with the apocalypse is nothing new; it dates back to Plato's accounts of the demise of Atlantis. But why do these stories resonate?

“These films are not merely giving us warnings about what we might be doing wrong on the planet, but they’re also giving us a sense of what it means to be a human in the vast universe,” says Barry Vacker, associate professor of media studies and production at Temple University's School of Media and Communication.

His most recent book, "The End of the World—Again: Why the Apocalypse Meme Replicates in Media, Science and Culture," examines several themes that permeate apocalyptic stories, such as humanity’s struggle to find cosmic significance to the yearning for a “clean slate” on which we could reboot our society and learn from our mistakes.

“Humans want warnings about what’s possible,” Vacker says. “Also, I think that humans want the idea that things could be better, we could be transformed, we could get a new beginning. Everybody in their life at some point in time has gone ‘Man, if I could do it all over again, I’d do something different.’”

Vacker's full bio: http://www.mediaanddestiny.org/storage/VackerBIO.pdf

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