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. “What a Show!”

. “What a Show!”

Apocalyptic Spectacle and the Agency of Watching

Chapter:
(p.60) 3. “What a Show!”
Source:
Plotting Apocalypse
Author(s):
Jennie Chapman
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781617039034.003.0004

This chapter explores the ways in which evangelical agency issues not only from the interpretation of the written word, but also the deciphering of visual cues and signs, Thus, watching and observing are central to the Left Behind narrative. The chapter shows how the end of the world functions as a particularly compelling spectacle in apocalyptic literature, including Left Behind, one which commands a sometimes voyeuristic gaze. In Left Behind, violence, particularly that inflicted upon nonevangelicals, is depicted in graphic detail. I argue that the characters’ belief that God controls all events and humans cannot intervene renders them passive in the face of violence and suffering. Furthermore, the protagonists’ positions as an audience to, rather than actors in, the apocalypse reinforces their passivity, inertia, and emotional detachment. Thus, the apocalyptic gaze precludes the exercise of compassion, particularly for those of a different faith or no faith.

Keywords:   Spectacle, Watching, The gaze, Violence, Compassion

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