Illuminati in popular culture
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Founded by Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria in 1776, the Illuminati have been referred to in popular culture, in books and comics, television and movies, and games. A number of novelists, playwrights and composers are alleged to have been Illuminati members and to have reflected this in their work. Also, early conspiracy theories surrounding the Illuminati have inspired a number of creative works, and continue to do so.
Books and comics
- Gothic literature had a particular interest in the theme of the Illuminati. The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction states that readers had a "scandalous vogue for German tales of the Illuminati." The role of the Illuminati in Horrid Mysteries, as in Montague Summers' introduction to a later reprint of it. The Illuminati also turn up in two spoofs of the gothic genre, which both also reference Horrid Mysteries, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen and Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock. A number of writers have indicated the familiarity of Mary Shelley with the early anti-Illuminati text Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism due to Percy Bysshe Shelley's enthusiasm for it and see its influence in Frankenstein, Zastrozzi and The Assassins particularly, reading the Monster itself as an amalgam of Shelley's Illuminati-influenced ideas and of the Illuminati itself, with the monster being created in Ingolstadt, where the Illuminati had been formed.
- The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson is a three-book science fiction series published in the 1970s, which is regarded as a cult classic particularly in the hacker community. An incomplete comic book version of the Illuminatus! was produced and published by Eye-n-Apple Productions and Rip Off Press between 1987 and 1991. Robert Anton Wilson also wrote The Historical Illuminati Chronicles in the early 1980s, and several other books and stories making use of it. A nine-hour theatrical adaptation was produced by Ken Campbell.
- Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum is a labyrinthine 1988 novel about all sorts of secret societies, including the Illuminati and the Rosicrucians.
- Fallen Angels by Bernard Cornwell (under the pseudonym Susannah Kells) (1984). A love story set in the shadow of the Paris revolutionary guillotine and the grounds of Lazender Castle in England. The illuminati plot to bring revolution to England is a central thread.
- Angels & Demons (German title: Illuminati), Dan Brown's 2000 precursor to 2003's The Da Vinci Code, is about an apparent Illuminati order plot to destroy its enemy the Catholic Church by using antimatter to blow up the Vatican while Papal elections are being held. In this novel the Illuminati movement was founded by Galileo Galilei, and others, as an enlightened reaction to persecution by the Catholic Church. They were initially based in Italy, but fled after four key members were executed by the Vatican. Apparently there are four churches to them in Rome, each representing one of the four elements. In actual fact, the Illuminati are indeed defunct and the events of the book are orchestrated as part of an elaborate scheme by its central antagonist. This is also the plot of the movie by the same name.
- In Michael Romkey's vampire novels, the Illuminati are an order of benevolent vampires, consisting of many famous figures throughout history (Beethoven, Mozart, etc.). The main character, David Parker, joins the order, but later leaves.
- In Larry Burkett's book The Illuminati, "The Society" seeks world power.
- In Marvel Comics, the Illuminati is a group of superheroes who joined forces and secretly work behind the scenes in Marvel's main shared universe.
- In War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Count Pierre Bezukhov, a Freemason, is accused of attempting to introduce the ideals of Illuminism to his lodge.
- In Kazue Kato's manga Blue Exorcist, the Illuminati are a secret organization that oppose the True Cross Order (an organization of exorcists that specializes in killing demons) and, by extension, the Vatican itself, which controls the Order. Their goal is to merge the world of humans and world of demons so that Satan, the king of all demons, can rule over the new world order.
Television and film
- In the 1986 comedy film The Whoopee Boys, the 'Bavarian Illuminati' is a group of men who learn how to charm their way into a high-society lifestyle.
- In Simon West's 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a group of high-society villains call themselves Illuminati, developing a plan to rule the world. Along with Lara Croft's father, they claim that the Illuminati have existed for four millennia for this purpose.
- In several episodes of the Walt Disney animated series Gargoyles, one of the major antagonists of the series, David Xanatos, was revealed to be a member of the Illuminati.
- The History Channel series Brad Meltzer's Decoded featured Illuminati author Mark Dice, who met with the show's investigators to discuss the Illuminati and their operations today.
- The Illuminati is parodied in an episode of American Dad called "Black Mystery Month", in which the "Illuminutty" is a secret organization involving the origin of peanut butter. They are also parodied in The Cleveland Show where hip-hop celebrities form an organization called the hip-hop Illuminati.
- Several games from Steve Jackson Games are based on the Mythos : the card game Illuminati and its trading card game reincarnation Illuminati: New World Order, and the role-playing game GURPS Illuminati.
- The Illuminati appear as one of several secret societies in the Dark•Matter expansion book for TSR, Inc.'s tabletop role-playing game Alternity. When TSR was later acquired by Wizards of the Coast much of Alternity, including Dark•Matter, was incorporated into their d20 Modern RPG.
- In the role-playing game Paranoia the Illuminati is a secret society so secret that all its members are undercover, pretending to be members of one of the other, less secret, secret societies and presumably attempting to influence their activities for some greater purpose.
- The Illuminati appear in the Deus Ex series of video games as the chief organization behind many conspiracies.
- In the MMORPG The Secret World, the Illuminati is one of the three playable factions.
- Hogle, Jerrold E. The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-521-79124-3. pp. 51–55
- Gothic immortals: the fiction of the brotherhood of the rosy cross by Marie Mulvey Roberts, passim.
- Baldick, Chris. In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-century Writing, ISBN 978-0-19-812249-4. p.36
- Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters, Anne K. Mellor, pp. 73, 83–84.
- "Foucault's Pendulum (review)", New York, 6 November 1989, p. 120
- Dice, Mark (2005) The Resistance Manifesto, The Resistance, San Diego, ISBN 0-9673466-4-9, p. 305
- Altner, Patricia (1998) Vampire Readings: An Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 978-0-8108-3504-7, p. 60
- The new inquisitions: heretic-hunting and the intellectual origins of modern totalitarianism By Arthur Versluis, pp. 121–122.
- Ebert, Roger (2004) Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2004, Andrews McMeel, ISBN 978-0-7407-3834-0, p. 362
- Pocahontas in the Alps: Masonic traces in the stage works of Franz Christoph Neubauer, Chris Walton. Musical Times; Autumn 2005, pp. 50–51.
- Cotter, Bill. The Wonderful World of Disney Television: A Complete History, ISBN 978-0-7868-6342-6, p. 280
- The History Channel (December 2010). "Brad Meltzer’s Decoded - Episode Guide". History.com. Mark Dice is the guest for the Statue of Liberty episode, originally airing on December 16, 2010 at 10/9c
- Conspiracy theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture Mark Fenster, University of Minnesota Press, 2008. pp. 173–178
- "The Secret World". Retrieved 7 March 2012.