Deconstructing Left Behind, or Why Pop Culture *is* Culture

Every Friday, a man named Fred undertakes a new portion of the Herculean task he has set himself. His goal is to deconstruct, step by agonizing step, the whole of the Left Behind series of novels, a gigantic work of Evangelical Christian Rapture-porn known to Fred’s community of readers as The Worst Books Ever Written. He has been doing this since October of 2003, and has only just started the second novel, Tribulation Force.

Fred does not do this because he likes these books. He despises them enough to title his very first post “Left Behind is Evil.” But he perseveres, through years of bad theology, unsympathetic characters, blatant miscogyny, and just plain hate-filled bad writing. He does this because he worries about the effects of Left Behind and the belief system it propagates on the larger culture. Because millions of people read these books, and many of them probably didn’t realize exactly how problematic they are, and because he believes that a careful reading will reveal not just what the authors want you to think/believe, but what these unfortunately influential persons really think.

And that, at its core, is why analysis of pop culture is important. Not because all of it is bad. Much of it is, but Sturgeon’s Law says that 90% of anything is crap. But because, at its heart, pop culture is culture as it is currently experienced. It is our shared vocabulary, our greater mythology. And neither it nor we exist in a vacuum. I have heard discussions about whether or not 24′s cavalier treatment of torture rendered it more acceptable to the public when done by the Bush administration. Fred worries that believing in the repugnant theology of the LB series explains some of the more callous and horrific decisions and opinions held by the Religious Right.

When I complain about yet another ridiculous, gender-stereotype-reinforcing romantic comedy, or a new racist ad campaign, I am often told “but it’s just a movie/an ad/a tv show/a magazine/pop culture. Why does it matter?”

Pop culture shapes us, and you can tell a great deal about a society, a group, or an individual by the stories they choose to tell. Isn’t that worth analyzing and thinking about?

You can watch the deconstruction every Friday at Slacktivist.


2 Responses to “Deconstructing Left Behind, or Why Pop Culture *is* Culture”

  1. 17 March 2009 at 1:25 am

    The LB books freak me the crack out and by “Crack” I mean they freak me out like a strange-machete-wielding-hobo-on-crack.

    fun link/clip
    Rachel Maddow talks to the LB authors about whether Obama is the anti-christ

    .msnbcLinks {font-size:11px; font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; color: #999; margin-top: 5px; background: transparent; text-align: center; width: 425px;} .msnbcLinks a {text-decoration:none !important; border-bottom: 1px dotted #999 !important; font-weight:normal !important; height: 13px;} .msnbcLinks a:link, .msnbcLinks a:visited {color: #5799db !important;} .msnbcLinks a:hover, .msnbcLinks a:active {color:#CC0000 !important;} Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

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