IFC estimates the zombie franchise in the US is worth $5 Billion. One of the most popular shows on TV is The Walking Dead. So what is the zombie’s role in Pop-culture? Are they a metaphor? What do they represent? With Vampires it’s easy; they’re sexy, seductive, forever young, they’re vane, powerful, rich, violent, dark, intelligent, mysterious, exciting and life-sucking in way that feels so good (representative of addiction). Zombies are reflective of something also. Zombies seem to be the geeks or the spastic polar opposite of that which is the vampire. If vampires are the cool kids then zombies with their ungraceful, jerky coordination, moans, limbs flailing and falling off are certainly sitting at the geek table at lunch. If this is true then why are they so en vogue at the moment. Well zombies are too reflective of our lives for them to be ignored hence their popularity over the last 40 years. They have a slow and steady wins the race quality when it comes to eating you brain. Their determination is certainly admirable; cut off their legs or arms and they still come at you. They have this, almost who cares how ugly I look I get fucking results quality. You have to admire that. Our culture admires success, the uglier and more unlikely the success, the more entertaining. Also we like unlikely success because it makes our dreams or goals seem more attainable. Zombies represent the geek, the nerd, the unattractive, undesirable; getting their piece of the American dream; getting what they want to. They can’t be stopped because they have been infected with monstrous determination. Another theme present in our society that is comparable to the zombie universe is that of determination. Our culture certainly perpetuates the notion that if you are determined, work hard and never give up then success will be realized (an idea I dismiss as myth or fairy tale).
Additionally zombies represent chaos, the end of it all, a free-for-all time, that calls for all conscious people who are left to work together. This is attractive to us because at some level we all feel we are conscious but many others are not. Also at times I think we have all wanted things to end so we can start over and do it right the second time around. We want the cards to be reshuffled because currently we feel we things are not equitable and there is only so much we choose to take responsibility for before it’s just society’s fault. DOOVER! New Rules as Bill Maher would say. A zombie apocalypse provides people with a rare opportunity. A zombie apocalypse can be viewed as a return to nature so-to-speak that results from human error (some type of zombie germ get’s accidentally released into society). Fuck your mortgage in a zombie apocalypse, fuck your student loan, fuck the obnoxious dick who always takes your parking spot at work (that asshole is a zombie now), fuck work, fuck peer pressure, fuck nuclear war, fuck industrial pollution, fuck child abuse, fuck the demands of a society you never asked for. In essence the destruction that results from a zombie apocalypse creates the chance to get it right and create a more peaceful and human society. A zombie apocalypse represents re-birth. Also you have less competition now. Your competition now is the few people left on Earth and zombies. Zombies are pretty easy to put in their place. Trust me you’re confidence level will shoot right up during a zombie apocalypse. In this scenario you are a force to be reckoned with; you are the terminator.
Zombies can also represent people you consider mindless and who you think the world would be better off without. Zombies are killed in a such a fun and comical way due to their lack of consciousness you don’t feel any empathy for them. You can now fantasize about killing masses of enemies in their zombie form whereas if they were still human the fantasy would be unhealthy and psychotic. Kill Newt Ginrich that fat zombie fuck, chop Santorum’s legs off it’s ok he’s the “undead” go ahead. Santorum may actually be the undead. Anyway, zombies help us get out our aggression we can transfer negative feelings we have for the living onto zombies.
Zombies also represent mindlessness. They represent pure action with no thought a notion that can always be applied to groups of human beings. Often we are just stuck doing stuff with no real thought, for example, our jobs or our weekend social routines. We just work and wish our lives away. “I wish it was Friday.” So let me mindlessly push through my boring day like a zombie. Everyday I do the same thing over and over and feel like a zombie. When we hit Starbucks or the post office sometimes the employees across from seem un-dead, you may want to poke them to confirm. Then there’s also society and conformity. In our culture the pressure to conform and follow the mainstream is ever-present. Television, radio, the internet, FACEBOOK, bill boards, product placement, store displays, magazines, movies, music all designed specifically to convince you this is what you should be doing. In essence these marketing strategies whisper to you non-stopped 24/7 to do what they are asking. Do not think. Do what we say, this is what everyone is doing. Look like this, eat this, vote for this, drive this, speak like this, listen to this, etc. You are then faced with the decision on whether to become part of the American zombie hoard or not. This American hoard of zombies in many ways (but not all) is terrorizing and destroying our society. Meaning there are lot of popular things we all take part in that are not beneficial for our culture or environment and we all know it but that doesn’t stop us. The fact that we all do things that cause the destruction of ourselves, of others, of our society, the planet, etc., is comparable to the mindlessness that is seen in the zombie universe. We often judge others for conforming too much. Maybe we view ourselves as a conscious survivor and label the mainstream as zombies. The mainstream media and the trillions of dollars they spend to turn you into a zombie to infect your thoughts and influence your behavior is comparable to having your brain eaten. Like zombies this characteristic of our culture is near impossible to stop. Even those of us who work diligently to function outside of the mainstream get caught up in the persuasive bombardment of it all. Maybe that is why a zombie apocalypse is appealing. In a apocalypse scenario this constant buzz of marketing and pressure to conform is suppressed greatly. Or possibly there is a zombie apocalypse going on currently. Maybe the popularity of the genre has to do with the fact people are fighting to hold onto a naturalistic humanity that exists in all of us. Maybe, right now, today we are fighting for consciousness, for the natural evolution into a more civilized society and those who want to keep us in this capitalistic society based consumption which is unsustainable are the mindless zombies. Maybe the zombie apocalypse portrayed in movies and books is a covert description of social revolution and the battle between consciousness and mindless irresponsibility. This would be completely reflective of current events. All we see in the news is the environment being destroyed, dependence on fossil fuels, helpful technology being suppressed, starvation, gluttony, poverty, war, destruction, industrial pollution, animal abuse, etc. Maybe zombies are the ones that want to keep the status-quo and we see ourselves as the conscious liberators fighting for humanity’s survival. Maybe zombie movies give us an outlet for our frustration for those who have awoken to the potential of human nature. The frustration of dealing with the mindless is well illustrated in zombie flicks. You can take out one or two so easily but if you don’t know the zombie rules you may get hurt. Even if you do know the zombie rules, zombies just keep coming and coming. Very much like real life. Sometimes I feel like one of the characters in The Walking Dead, scared, confused, desperate, pressured, unsure, confidence waning etc. I tell myself to believe, have faith always, life is not guaranteed, no one knows what the next moment will bring, maybe death or maybe joy, the moment is all there is and I can function in the moment. If there is a zombie apocalypse good advice would be stay near water, have an escape route, keep good people around you, keep your family close and look out for each other (these are rules for any emergency really).