Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Greg Garrett

What can the Zombie Apocalypse teach us about ourselves? [Video]

Like war stories, like disaster films, like any kind of narrative that revolts and scares yet also delights us, the Zombie Apocalypse offers a laboratory for observing human emotion and experience. Its excess opens up a multitude of responses that don’t get explored in the course of our everyday lives, although these same choices lurk underneath the surface of all our lives.

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George Romero, Game of Thrones, and the zombie apocalypse

When George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead, died on 16 July, the world was gearing up for the season opener of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones owes its central storyline—the conflict between the Night’s Watch and the White Walkers—and a great measure of its success to Romero, as do other popular and critically-acclaimed versions of the story, whether television, film, fiction, or comics.

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Winter is coming: the zombie apocalypse on TV

But maybe the greatest horde of zombies these days is on television, from cult shows like iZombie and Santa Clarita Diet to two of the most popular shows on the planet, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. The Walking Dead has recently wrapped its seventh season, but Game of Thrones is getting ready to ramp up for its final two seasons, with the world premiere of its Season Seven coming tonight.

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Death and all of his tunes

Whether they be songs about angels or demons, Heaven or Hell, the theme of the afterlife has inspired countless musicians of varying genres and has embedded itself into the lyrics of many popular hits. Though their styles may be different, artists show that our collective questions and musings about the afterlife provide us with a common thread across humanity. Here are some of the songs that best represent this wide range of emotions that many people have about what lies beyond.

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Speak of the Devil: Satan in imaginative literature

Al Pacino is John Milton. Not John Milton the writer of Paradise Lost, although that is the obvious in-joke of the movie The Devil’s Advocate (1997). No, this John Milton is an attorney and — in what thus might be another obvious in-joke — he is also Satan, the Prince of Darkness. In the movie, he hires a fine young defense attorney, Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), and offers him an escalating set of heinous — and high-profile — cases to try, a set of ever-growing temptations if you will. What will happen to Kevin in the trials to come?

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Almost paradise: heaven in imaginative literature

Paradise, a 1982 knock-off of the movie Blue Lagoon, stars Phoebe Cates and Willie Aames as teenagers who find themselves alone in a place of natural beauty and experiencing the ultimate joy together. Ann Wilson of Heart and Mike Reno of Loverboy can see forever in each other’s eyes in “Almost Paradise,” their Top Ten hit from the Footloose soundtrack (“Almost paradise / We’re knocking on Heaven’s door”). Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) references the Elysian Fields, a paradise beyond this one where the blessed go when they die.

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