Festival of Ideas: Peter Biskind - The Sky is Falling

Peter Biskind In Conversation

How Vampires, Zombies, Androids and Superheroes Taught Us to Love Political Extremism

Apocalypse fever has hit epidemic proportions - and extreme circumstances call for extreme measures. Cultural critic Peter Biskind takes us on a dizzying ride across two decades of pop culture to show how TV and movies have taught us to love political extremism.

Ranging through dozens of examples - from authorities who are up to no good (Hunger Games) to aliens who only want to be our friends (Arrival), from end times where nature is our only hope (Avatar) to those who seek refuge in the post-human (Twilight) - Biskind shows how a generation of movies have not only reflected but have actively influenced our polarised politics. While extremist visions used the be the reserve of pulp culture, these ideas have moved into the mainstream and into modern family franchises like Star Wars, The Incredibles and the Marvel and Batman universes. Welcome to a darkly pessimistic world where winter has come, the dead are walking, and ultra-violence, revenge and torture are all in a day's work.

Biography: Peter Biskind is a cultural critic, contributing editor to Vanity Fair and the author of the bestsellers Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures. The Sky is Falling: How Vampires, Zombies, Androids and Superheroes Taught Us to Love Political Extremism is his latest book.