The prediction of an apocalyptic era or the end of the world is something that has been foretold for millennia. Many different cultures – from the Incans to the Vikings to the Christians – have foretold the coming of the end of the world. In today’s media, more and more films and television shows are beginning to show potential scenarios for the end of the world. From television shows such as Jericho and The Walking Dead to movies such as 28 Days Later and Mad Max: Fury Road, people are able to see vivid depictions of what it might look like for the end of the world to actually happen. While 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead depict the end of the world as an event accompanied by zombies and flesh-eating monsters, Jericho and Mad Max: Fury Road deal in more realistic depictions. However, all four of these depictions of the end of the world have the common element of portraying those who survive as being either the very worst humans on the planet or those with an endless capacity for love and bravery.
There are two different portrayals of the end of the world. One occurs spontaneously and without warning. The other occurs with some foreshadowing and warning from minority groups, outraged citizens, or natural events. As was predicted in “The Book of Revelation,” the end of the world would be swift and dramatic, without warning or build-up (Kirsch, 2006). God will simply decide to enact the apocalypse one day and the world will change forever (Kirsch, 2006). As it is God’s will, it will be swift and powerful (Kirsch, 2006). Both The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later feature this sort of apocalyptic event – one that could not have been expected and must have been concocted by God himself.

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In The Walking Dead, citizens of the United States based primarily in Atlanta, Georgia wake up to a world where the dead do not lie still (Darabont et al., 2010). Rather, the dead get up, pursue the living, and try with all their might to eat the living. This television series is in line with the idea that one day God may decide to bring about the apocalypse and force the living to face the evil monsters of their dead. Interestingly, in The Walking Dead, there are two types of people who survive. The first type is those individuals who have a huge capacity for love, forgiveness, and bravery that is fueled by their compassion towards other living people. It is possible that these people are being spared by God as they are not the ones who God wishes to punish with his apocalypse. However, as the show progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to identify the differences between those who are good at heart and those who are cold-blooded killers. The second type of people are those who have either always been evil and corrupt at heart or who did not take much persuasion to arrive at that point. These people have survived based on their own sheer brutality and inclination towards violence. These are the people that God wants to punish with his apocalypse and who brought on the need for a global cleansing in the first place. The killers are also worse than the walking dead and therefore serve as a secondary punishment to those who are still good.

In the film 28 Days Later, the apocalypse is also swift and comes without warning, as was foretold by “The Book of Revelation.” However, the apocalypse is characterized by infected humans who become vicious killing machines within seconds of contracting the virus (Macdonald & Boyle, 2002). These people are not dead, but they are not like the living either. They are almost inhumanly fast and will chase down the uninfected with fervor. The infected feed only on the flesh of the uninfected, and therefore starve to death if they are without victims. The survivors are those who protect one another and have the compassion and good will to remain loyal to one another, similar to the good survivors in The Walking Dead. However, there are also those survivors who wish to take advantage of other survivors. In particular, seemingly good men attempt to rape a young girl and a woman for the sake of repopulating the earth. These once-good men jump to the conclusion of such heinous acts in such a brief time that it is hard to believe they were ever good at all. In fact, by the twenty-eighth day of the apocalypse, the infected begin to die of starvation and the world sees a glimmer of hope as God’s apocalypse has cleansed the earth of so many weak and corrupt. In this way, we see that the apocalypse can come at any time, without warning, as long as God wills it, according to “The Book of Revelation.”

However, “The Book of Revelation” also clearly places the blame of the apocalypse on mankind (Kirsch, 2006). When John encounters the Whore of Babylon, he sees that her hands are “full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication” (Pippin, 1992, pg. 57). This imagery is a clear message that it is mankind’s sins that have brought on the apocalypse. In this way, it is clear that the apocalypse is something that religious and devout Christians should have foreseen if only they had their eyes open to the folly of mankind. Rather, mankind has gone on in blissful ignorance and was happy to be in such a state. Looking at “The Book of Revelation” from this perspective, then we see that media portrayals such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Jericho are actually more accurate depictions of the apocalypse (Kirsch, 2006). Eerily, these media portrayals are also far more realistic and have the potential to occur in real life.

The television series Jericho depicts a scenario where nuclear explosions leave the United States in shambles, without clean food, clean water, or communications (Turteltaub et al., 2006). People are left to fend for themselves, unsure of what to make of this new world where normal supplies are poisoned and even the outside air is toxic. The world saw such catastrophies coming with the Western world’s greed for nuclear weapons and nuclear power. If we refer to “The Book of Revelation,” then perhaps the Whore of Babylon was a sign that people are being too greedy and decimating the earth that God has given them (Kirsch, 2006). The people who survive in Jericho are those who are far enough away from the blasts to avoid the majority of the nuclear radiation’s effects. In a similar scenario in Mad Max: Fury Road, we see a society that has been torn apart by a lack of water (Mitchell et al., 2015). The apocalypse was brought on by humans stripping the earth of its natural resources and being unappreciative of what they had. They went against God’s commandments and stole from the earth what they could not repay. There were warnings, such as global warming and drought, but people did not heed the warnings. These warning signs could be symbolically equated to the Whore of Babylon who hints at the foreshadowing of the apocalypse. Unfortunately, in Mad Max: Fury Road, those who survive are those who are willing to make slaves of the weak and hoard the resources for themselves. While there are a rare few who stand up for certain principles – particularly with regards to defending those who cannot defend themselves – they are often outnumbered and eventually torn down by the evil and the greedy.

“The Book of Revelation” in the Bible is a powerful reminder that the world as we know it could cease to exist at any time. We could simply wake up and be faced with God’s wrath in the form of flesh eating zombies, a brutal virus, a nuclear holocaust, or a complete lack of resources. While, the media portrayals disagree on whether the cause of the apocalypse will be swift and sudden or foreshadowed and gradual, they agree on who will survive. The primary survivors who hold most of the power will be vicious individuals with no morality. The minority of the survivors will be good, decent people who hold true to their humanity and the bonds that make them righteous.

    References
  • Darabont, F., Hurd, G. A., Kirkman, R., Eglee, C. H., Mazzara, G., Gimple, S. M., Nicotero, G., & Luse, T. (2010). The Walking Dead [Television series]. New York City, NY: AMC Networks.
  • Kirsch, J. (2006). A history of the end of the world: How the most controversial book in the Bible changed the course of Western civilization. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
  • Macdonald, A. (Producer) & Boyle, D. (Director). (2002). 28 Days Later [Motion picture]. London, UK: UK Film Council.
  • Mitchell, D., Miller, G., Voeten, P. J. (Producers), & Miller, G. (Director). (2015). Mad Max: Fury Road [Motion picture]. Los Angeles, CA: Village Roadshow Pictures.
  • Pippin, Tina. (1992). “The (W)hor(e)ror of it all: The ideology of death.” In Death and Desire: The Rhetoric of Gender in the Apocalypse of John, Westminster: John Knox Press, 57-86.
  • Turteltaub, J., Chbosky, S., Barbee, C., & Zreik, K. (Producers). (2006). Jericho [Television series]. Santa Monica, CA: CBS Television Distribution.