It’s the Apocalypse… Again: Fandom and Fantasy in HBO’s “The Last of Us”


[[A critical analysis on the works of various apocalypse stories, including the new HBO series The Last of Us.]]

The apocalypse story is a popular genre in media, with a wide range of works depicting different versions of a world-ending event. These stories can take many forms, from the zombie of George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” to the nuclear war of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Continuing this legacy, the apocalypse story has taken on a new form in the form of the HBO series “The Last of Us.” This series, based on the popular video game of the same name, tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world overrun by a deadly fungus.

One of the key similarities between these various apocalypse stories is the way in which they depict the human condition. In all of these works, the characters are forced to confront their own mortality and the fragility of human civilization. The apocalypse serves as a backdrop for a story about the struggle for survival and the resilience of the human spirit.

Another common theme in apocalypse stories is the idea of the collapse of society. In “The Last of Us,” the fungus has wiped out most of humanity, and the remaining survivors are struggling to survive in a world without order or structure. Similarly, in “Night of the Living Dead,” the zombie represent a collapse of societal norms, as the living must fight to survive against the dead.

One of the ways in which “The Last of Us” differs from other apocalypse stories is its focus on the relationship between the two main characters, Joel and Ellie. The series explores the bond that forms between these two characters as they navigate the dangers of the post-apocalyptic world together. This focus on the relationship between the characters adds a new dimension to the apocalypse story, as the characters’ survival is not just about physical survival, but also emotional survival.

So it goes without saying, the apocalypse story is a popular genre in media that has taken many forms over the years. These stories often depict the human condition, the collapse of society, and the struggle for survival. “The Last of Us” is a recent addition to the genre that adds a new dimension by focusing on the relationship between the main characters. Overall, these works offer a powerful reflection on the human experience and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Why do we enjoy the apocalypse genre in literature and film?

Viewers and consumers seem to enjoy the apocalypse genre in literature and film for a variety of reasons. One reason is that the genre provides a sense of catharsis for viewers, allowing them to explore their fears and anxieties about the end of the world in a safe and controlled environment. Additionally, the genre often serves as a commentary on the state of the world and the human condition, giving viewers a chance to reflect on their own lives and the society they live in.

Another reason that viewers and consumers seem to enjoy the apocalypse genre is that it allows them to see the characters in these stories struggle and survive in extreme circumstances, which can be thrilling and exciting. The genre often features survival stories, where characters are forced to make difficult decisions and fight to survive in a world where resources are scarce and danger is everywhere.

Additionally, the genre allows for exploration of different scenarios, whether it’s a natural disaster, a zombie outbreak, a nuclear war or a pandemic, the possibilities are endless and it allows the creators to come up with different scenarios and different ways that the apocalypse could happen.

Lastly, the genre also allows for a diverse range of stories and characters, from the heroic to the villainous, from the survivors to the ones who didn’t make it, the genre allows for a wide range of perspectives and a wide range of emotions.

I find that the apocalypse genre, whether literature and film, is popular because it allows for catharsis, reflection, excitement, and exploration of different scenarios, and a wide range of stories and characters.

Science fiction and horror as expressions of contemporary anxieties.

Science fiction and horror are often used to express contemporary anxieties because they allow for a safe and controlled way to explore fears and concerns that people may have about the world. These genres allow for the creation of fantastical and exaggerated scenarios that can reflect and comment on the anxieties and issues of the real world.

One way that science fiction and horror are used to express contemporary anxieties is through the use of symbolism and metaphor. For example, in science fiction, the depiction of advanced technology can be used to comment on the rapid pace of change and the fear of losing control of our own creations. Similarly, in horror, the use of monsters and other supernatural entities can be used to comment on fears about the unknown and the fears of the other.

Another way that science fiction and horror are used to express contemporary anxieties is through the exploration of societal issues. For example, science fiction stories often explore issues such as climate change, overpopulation, and the ethics of artificial intelligence. Similarly, horror stories often explore issues such as discrimination, violence, and social inequality.

Additionally, science fiction and horror are also used to express anxieties about the future and the unknown. The apocalypse genre, which falls under both science fiction and horror, often explores the fear of the end of the world, whether it be by a natural disaster, a pandemic, a nuclear war, or an alien invasion.

Science fiction and horror are used to express contemporary anxieties by using symbolism and metaphor, exploring societal issues and by exploring anxieties about the future and the unknown. These genres provide a safe space for viewers and readers to explore their fears and concerns about the world, and to consider the potential consequences of current trends and issues.

On the fandom and lore of the “Last of Us”

The “Last of Us” video game and HBO series have both garnered a large and passionate fanbase, known as the “Last of Us” fandom. The game, developed by Naughty Dog and released in 2013, is set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by a fungus that turns people into zombie. The HBO series, which premiered in June of 2021, is based on the game and follows the story of the game’s main characters, Joel and Ellie, as they navigate this dangerous world. Both the game and the series have been critically acclaimed for their storytelling, characters, and emotional impact, and have generated a sizable fanbase.

One of the reasons for the popularity of the “Last of Us” franchise is the complexity and depth of its lore. The game and series both depict a post-apocalyptic world that is both believable and terrifying, with a rich and detailed backstory that explains how the fungus outbreak occurred and how society has collapsed as a result. Fans of the franchise have been drawn to the game and series’ world-building, as well as the exploration of the characters’ experiences and emotions in this harsh world. The game and series also offer a unique take on the zombie genre, with the enemies in the game known as “the infected” being driven by a fungus rather than a virus, which adds a new level of horror and intrigue to the story.

The “Last of Us” fandom is also known for its active online community, with fans sharing fan art, fan fiction, cosplay, and other forms of fan content. Fans also participate in discussions and debates about the game and series’ story, characters, and themes, as well as speculating about future developments in the franchise. The fanbase has also been vocal in their support of a sequel to the game, which was announced in 2020 and is expected to be released in 2022.

Another aspect that has made “The Last of Us” franchise so popular is the emotional impact it has on its audience, the game and series are known for their strong storytelling and character development, which have made them emotionally resonant with many fans. The relationship between Joel and Ellie, in particular, has been widely praised for its realism, depth, and emotional weight. Many fans have identified with the characters and their struggles, making the game and series all the more impactful.

In conclusion, the “Last of Us” franchise has gained a large and passionate fanbase thanks to its believable and terrifying post-apocalyptic world, its unique take on the zombies genre, the complexity and depth of its lore, the emotional impact it has on its audience and the strength of its storytelling and character development. The fanbase is known for its active online community, with fans sharing fan art, fan fiction, cosplay, and other forms of fan content, as well as participating in discussions and debates about the game and series’ story, characters, and themes. The fanbase is eagerly awaiting the release of the remastered version of the original game, which is expected to be released in 2023 https://store.steampowered.com/app/1888930/The_Last_of_Us_Part_I/

About the soundtrack. What a score!

The soundtrack and music score of the HBO series “The Last of Us” have been widely praised for their ability to enhance and support the emotional impact of the story. The series’ soundtrack is composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, who also composed the soundtrack for the video game. Santaolalla’s score is known for its emotive, atmospheric, and minimalist style, which perfectly captures the mood and tone of the series.

One of the notable elements of the series’ soundtrack is its use of the guitar as the primary instrument. The guitar is often used to create a sense of nostalgia, longing, and melancholy, which perfectly reflects the emotional state of the characters. The guitar is also used to create a sense of tension and danger, particularly in scenes where the characters are fighting against the infected. This creates a sense of unease that perfectly reflects the danger and uncertainty of the world in which the characters find themselves.

Another notable element of the series’ soundtrack is its use of silence. Santaolalla often uses silence to create a sense of emptiness and isolation, which perfectly reflects the emotional state of the characters as they navigate a world that has been almost completely destroyed. The silence also serves to heighten the emotional impact of the music when it is used, making the moments when the music does play all the more powerful.

The series also includes licensed songs in the soundtrack, which adds to the emotional impact of certain scenes and moments. These songs include “Future Days” by Pearl Jam, “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam, and “A Soft Hand Across Your Face” by The National among others, that were carefully selected to enhance the emotional and thematic content of the series.

In conclusion, the soundtrack and music score of the HBO series “The Last of Us” have been widely praised for their ability to enhance and support the emotional impact of the story. The series’ soundtrack composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, is known for its emotive, atmospheric, and minimalist style, its use of the guitar as the primary instrument and its use of silence to create a sense of emptiness and isolation. The licensed songs included in the soundtrack, were also carefully selected to enhance the emotional and thematic content of the series.

Did you play the game? Are you feeling out on the series? I’d love your feedback on my writing and to hear your relationship with science fiction and horror.

Tell me everything in the comments below.

Cheers. And wear a seatbelt. And watch out for fungus. Especially those among-us.

Further Reading, valuable reviews, and essays.

How ‘The Last of Us’ changed gaming, strained relationships and spawned an empire https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2023-01-15/the-last-of-us-hbo-tv-show-video-game-history-neil-druckmann

The Last of Us: Inside the Episode (Review) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NHEUXYgR7Zw

Jake Dekker’s briliant review for GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/amp-reviews/the-last-of-us-part-i-review-desolation-row/1900-6417949/

The Last Of Us Pt 1remake review: Enough upgrades to leave us stunned https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2022/08/the-last-of-us-pt-1-remake-review-higher-fidelity-blood-sweat-and-tears/amp/


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