The Sky Is Falling: How Vampires, Zombies, Androids, and Superheroes Made America Great for Extremism by Peter Biskind makes for some fascinating reading.
Peter Biskind has a good grasp on what he’s talking about. Make no mistake that popular culture somehow finds a way to influence our political culture. Other times, it’s vice versa (cough Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith cough). In any event, Biskind goes through Hollywood’s history in under 300 pages. In using films and television series as examples, Biskind shows us how mainstream American values are making a comeback after having been pushed to the side.
Biskind’s cultural baseline is a two-decade stretch that starts after World War II and ends with the beginning of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Because of the tumultuous 60s, it makes sense to stop the baseline with the decade that brought us the sexual revolution, Vietnam, and in the 1970s, Watergate.
There are four distinct sections of the book: Winter Has Come, Who’ll Stop the Rain?, Breaking Bad, and Heaven Can Wait.
In the three chapters that make up “Winter Has Come,” the discussion is on the end of the world. Biskind splits the discussion through the three sections that make up the political spectrum.
Biskind looks at how authorities are viewed in “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” The middle section of this particular chapter takes a strong look at some of our favorite superheroes in the Marvel Universe and beyond. There’s a solid 2-3 pages alone on the Star Wars universe. The politics behind Marvel and DC could make for an fascinating read in its own right. This is coming from someone whose wrote their Master’s Thesis on comic books and American politics.
In “Breaking Bad,” Biskind turns the discussion to acting like beasts and monsters. We expect our heroes to act in a certain way. How the left, right, and center respond to such behavior is the main basis for this section.
Finally, “Heaven Can Wait” explores humanity and to an extent post-humanity. This precedes Biskind’s conclusion, where the author concludes that the center is starting to take the front once again.
While The Sky is Falling isn’t a page-turner by any means, Peter Biskind’s scholarly insight helps explain how we got in the situation we’re in today.