A History of Evil
What Hannibal Lecter, Stephen King,
and Vampires Reveal about America

Summary Paragraph

An argument can be made that the concept of evil haunts the soul of America.

Evil isn't simply an abstract theological or philosophical talking point. In our society, the idea of evil feeds entertainment, manifests in all sorts of media, and is a root concept in our collective psyche. This accessible and appealing book examines what evil means to us.

Evil has been with us since the Garden of Eden, when Eve unleashed evil by biting the apple. Outside of theology, evil remains a highly relevant concept in contemporary times: evil villains in films and literature make these stories entertaining; our criminal justice system decides the fate of convicted criminals based on the determination of their status as "evil" or "insane." This book examines the many manifestations of "evil" in modern media, making it clear how this idea pervades nearly all aspects of life and helping us to reconsider some of the notions about evil that pop culture perpetuates and promotes.

Covering screen media such as film, television, and video games; print media that include novels and poetry; visual media like art and comics; music; and political polemics, the essays in this book address an eclectic range of topics. The diverse authors include Americans who left the United States during the Vietnam War era, conservative Christian political pundits, rock musicians, classical linguists, Disney fans, scholars of American slavery, and experts on Holocaust literature and films. From portrayals of evil in the television shows The Wire and 24 to the violent lyrics of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse to the storylines of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter books, readers will find themselves rethinking what evil is—and how they came to hold their beliefs.

Sample Topics

Axis of Evil
Batman Villains
Crime Films
Evil Empire
Film Noir
Hannibal Lecter
Hit Men
Horror Films
Mythological Feminine Evil
Nazis in Film and Literature
Quentin Tarantino
Satanism in America (Real or Imagined)
Serial Killer Murderabilia
Slave Traders
Disney’s Sorcerers


• Includes the insights of scholars from widely different academic fields to inspect evil from various points of view, giving readers a broader perspective on the topic
• Compiles expert opinions from American, American expatriate, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern contributors
• Covers the portrayal of evil in many different forms of media—film, television, music, art, video games, literature, poetry—as well as in politics, current events, and the legal arena


.....Moffatt, G.K. (2014). A history of evil in pop culture (Vol. 2). Sharon Packer and Jody Pennington eds. pp. 243-254. Child Sexualization, Abuse, and Evil in Pop Culture, chapter in Evil in American pop culture. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

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