Remediating the apocalypse

Bush as Rambo

Bush's commitment to “rid the world of evil” clearly gains some of its potency from the deeply ingrained American myth of the outsider superhero that Jewett and lawrence have called the Captain America Complex. The president as superhero is an image that has been deployed by Bush and his advisers, most notably in the carefully staged Top Gun style arrival of the commander-in-chief on one of the aircraft carriers bringing home troops from the 2003 “victory” in Iraq.

Jewett and Lawrence relate another incident which further highlights the self styled heroics of this administration. To illustrate a largely dismissive cover story of the Bush administration's “Masters of the Universe” foreign policy, the German news magazine Der Spiegel commissioned a satirical cover, which portrayed each of the key administration figures as an American superhero. Powell became Batman, Rice became Zena and leading them all was Bush as Rambo.

Daniel Coats, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, visited Der Spiegel's offices not to protest the cover but to report that the president was “flattered” at this depiction. Coats order 30 poster sized covers for the White House. Each of the cover stars wanted one. (Jewett and Lawrence 2003a)

Jewett and Lawrence remind readers that in First Blood John Rambo burns down his hometown law enforcement headquarters after killing several officers and national guardsmen. They note that, “Rambo's actions are triggered by his aching and inarticulate rage about how he is treated” and that the sequel, First Blood II, was released under the advertising slogan: “No Man, no Law, no War can stop him.” (Jewett and Lawrence 2003a)

This web project is an evolving space exploring contemporary manifestations of the apocalyptic in current affairs and popular culture. It is being developed in association with my Ph.D. research and is both a research method and a presentation of that research. In exploring the apocalyptic I am particularly interested in mapping a series of multimodal mythic clusters that are evolving through a process of remediation which I identify as a key cultural logic for an age in which electracy is the new literacy of nomadic subjects. This hypertextual presentation foregrounds affiliational logic and although I hope the project accumulates meaning it does not seek to present a single, formal, linear argument. I have presented some of these ideas in more traditional academic formats in other places. Although the navigational choices are the user's own these tips may be useful. Feedback is very welcome.

Marcus O'Donnell 2005-2006