Sunday, April 10, 2005

Millenialism and the pursuit of profit

The New York Times > Opinion > Frank Rich: A Culture of Death, Not Life

Frank Rich notes the recent passion for mega-funerals, and loops back to the new "Revelations" series ...
...No one does the culture of death with more of a vengeance - literally so - than the doomsday right. The "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins all but pant for the bloody demise of nonbelievers at Armageddon. And now, as Eric J. Greenberg has reported in The Forward, there's even a children's auxiliary: a 40-title series, "Left Behind: The Kids," that warns Jewish children of the hell that awaits them if they don't convert before it's too late. Eleven million copies have been sold on top of the original series' 60 million...

...This Wednesday the far right's cutting-edge culture of death gets its biggest foothold to date in the mainstream, when NBC broadcasts its "Left Behind" simulation, "Revelations," an extremely slick prime-time mini-series that was made before our most recent death watches but could have been ripped from their headlines. In the pilot a heretofore nonobservant Christian teenage girl in a "persistent vegetative state" - and in Florida, yet - starts babbling Latin texts from the show's New Testament namesake just as dastardly scientists ("devil's advocates," as they're referred to) and organ-seekers conspire to pull the plug. "All the signs and symbols set forth in the Bible are currently in place for the end of days," says the show's adult heroine, an Oxford-educated nun who has been denounced by the Vatican for her views and whose mission is underwritten by a wealthy "religious fundamentalist."
The great constant in American life is the pursuit of wealth. The Left Behind authors are wealthy now beyond the dreams of mortals, the Revelations series can't help but be a big winner (heck, I'd watch it if I watched TV*).

What happens when profit and a bloody-minded fundamentalism combine in a self-reinforcing feedback loop? I'm hoping the audience will burn out...

Geek's have their own armageddon, known as the Singularity. Opera lovers have the Ring Cycle. What we really need is an all-Doomsday sweeps week special, from Revelations to the Ring Cycle (Gottdamerung!) to The Singularity to (what the heck) Nuclear Terrorism and Supervolcanoes.

It's enough to turn a contrarian sort into a raving optimist.

*Update: My wife claims I wouldn't last five minutes.

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