Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why Zombies?

Maybe we're in a dead zone

As promised in my previous post, here’s my entry on why zombies have become so popular.  Obviously, the ‘70s had their zombie movies that appealed to a limited audience, along with their weak spinoffs and imitators.  But for about the last ten years, zombie movies and novels became popular enough to attract mainstream attention, and their quality increased to match.  We even have a major television series, The Walking Dead, with amazing production values, that show zombie hordes in control of cities and suburbs, chasing the beleaguered survivors.  Why the interest in zombies? 

Thoughtful observers have noticed this trend began after the 9/11 attack.  Since that time, we have had the explosion of stories of unreasoning hordes attacking us in wave after wave.  We cannot communicate with them.  We cannot reason with them.  Their motives are not easily understood, and their way of life is totally foreign to us.  They only wish our death. 

Some who like zombie stories would reject this, saying, “I would never characterize those who happen to attack us in this stage of history as resembling zombies.”  Okay.  But the observation is that the analogy to real fears in our contemporary world is not done on a conscious level.  Neither the writers nor the readers or viewers realized these stories were metaphors.  These stories were compelling to mainstream audiences at a subconscious level. 

Am I saying that every movie or novel has a one-to-one correspondence with a fear of a past or present attack on our homeland?  No.  But that fear lies behind the growth in this industry.  If you catch episode 2 of The Walking Dead and see Deputy Grimes ride into Atlanta and get swarmed by zombies, you’ll see a glimpse of the fear that Western civilization will fall to irrational hordes who wish to destroy us.  

Dude, what's a metaphor?

[Permission granted to use either photo on this post, so long as it is labeled “Photo by Mark Murata”]

1 comment:

Ellie Garratt said...

Intriguing post. Personally, I love anything zombie. Now my step-daughter could only watch one episode of The Walking Dead - she was too scared to see any more! Funny, how peoples tastes are different. Oops...sorry for the taste pun!

Ellie Garratt


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