A Useful Apocalypse? Hollywood Meets the Anthropocene, Dark Desires and Post-/Ultra-Politics

Earl Harper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


We are currently living in a state of combined and uneven apocalypse. This paper will draw on current thinking to ask the question: are/is apocalypse(s) useful to society? The concept of apocalypse has long been fascinating to scholars and the public in general, Hollywood has made a multi-billion-dollar industry from portraying apocalyptic imaginaries such as The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact and 2012. Religions across the planet portray various versions of the ‘end of times’, ‘Armageddon’ or ‘revelations’ to come. Žižek (2011) argues that apocalypse and disaster play an important role in the fulfilling of dark desires and (previously) socially unacceptable behaviours, while Williams (2011) argues that the apocalypse presents an unrivalled opportunity for discovering the already existing power struggles in society and presenting ways out of this mess. Therefore, through the close visual analysis of the 2013 blockbuster film, Elysium, this paper will argue that the Apocalypse can be seen as a force for good, in revealing clear-cut ultra-politics relationships whilst also being a force for bad by presenting opportunities for deeper desires to play out in society and what implications this has for the wellbeing of human beings. The paper will analyse the post-political manifestations of environment, inequality and wellbeing in the film and what these apocalyptic imaginaries can show us about how to tackle current environmental issues facing global society. The paper will go on to relate these assertions to the current ‘Anthropocenic awakening’ to ask, will this Apocalypse be useful in achieving a more socially just and environmentally benign society?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAffective Apocalypses and Millennial Wellbeing
EditorsTristan Sturm, Joe Webster
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2016
EventAffective Apocalypses and Millennial Wellbeing - Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Aug 201619 Aug 2016


ConferenceAffective Apocalypses and Millennial Wellbeing
CountryUnited Kingdom

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