Changing Politics of Tribalism and Morality in I Am Legend and Its Remakes

The M in CITAMS@30

ISBN: 978-1-78769-670-9, eISBN: 978-1-78769-669-3

ISSN: 2050-2060

Publication date: 30 November 2018


Tribalism is at the forefront of public discussion across the political spectrum in America today. Zombie stories have also risen to unprecedented popularity. Amid present-day racial, political, and otherwise tribal tensions, the story I Am Legend has particular resonance. As the original inspiration behind the modern zombie trope, it was published as a novella in 1954 and has been remade as a film multiple times, in 1964, 1971, and 2007. Using grounded theory, I explore each film regarding what moral attitudes are portrayed concerning confrontation between rival milieus. My findings center on four themes: identification, compassion, ambivalence, and condemnation. Overall, in chronological order, the different renditions of the story exhibit decreasing compassion for the other and decreasing ambivalence about relations with the other. The most dramatic change is between the 1971 and 2007 remakes. Implications for what the changes in the morals presented in the story might reflect in terms of social changes in America are discussed.



Morelock, J. (2018), "Changing Politics of Tribalism and Morality in I Am Legend and Its Remakes", The M in CITAMS@30 (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 18), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 59-79.

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