Greetings and salutations, blog readers!
Today, I am here to talk about zombies, and what they mean.
No, not an introduction to zombies blog, but more of a deep dive into what zombies can really mean, in a social issues kind of way.
Because zombies are rarely meant to be just a simple story of the dead walking, but, frequently, zombie stories are meant to hi-light social issues, represent social problems, and act as a political satire for many problems in society.
These issues can range, from quite broad things like racism or social inequality, to political corruption, and even can be something as simple as repeating the same behaviors over and over again. Yes, sometimes, zombies are making fun of the fact that we can all be…a bit zombie-ish in our day to day lives. (Shaun of the Dead, anyone?)
Zombies have long been in a stand in for things other than actual viruses that turn humans into carnivorous monsters…although with the rise of our scientific knowledge, with not just one type of zombie type virus that could cross a species barrier, that we know of, but also mold activity that does similar zombie type behavior at a molecular level…is it really that hard to see why creative people have flocked to zombie stories?
And some people like to make several commentaries in one, and some people like to do all of that, and then also add more stuff to it, like magic, like I do in Flake City. (Spoilers.)
Mind you, magic and zombies go back as far as zombies do.
In fact, much of the start of zombie lore plays with racism and magic to create zombies, a dark part of zombie history that I hate, but of course, acknowledge.
I just don’t watch that trash.
Kinda like Citizen Kane. You watch it once, hate your life, and can proudly say you sat through that crap to give yourself credibility among the assholes.
I try to play with zombies and magic, as well as political and governmental corruption, viruses, quarantines, all of that commentary as well as every day zombie stuff, without being a screaming racist.
Other zombie fans have also used zombies to comment on racism, but rather than make their film a testament TO racism, they make racism the thing they are saying is bad. This is pretty great, because let’s be real: being a racist absolutely makes you a zombie.
Zombies were also used to comment on both communism and fascism, in addition to its racial commentary.
Anti War commentary became a big popular thing around the time of Vietnam, using zombies to protest war, comment on social issues, encourage war, (yes, zombies get used to both stoke the fires of war and also warn against the horrors of it.)
As this time period gave away and the horrors of capitalism began to rear it’s ugly head in a way we could no longer ignore, the zombies began to represent issues like social and wealth inequality’s. Famously and notably we have Dawn of the Dead for this, a classic in it’s own right that from it, spawned tons of it’s own type of zombie movies, until for a long time, many of the zombie movies only seemed to address this, or, more enjoyably, just dealt with zombies. An explosion in the genre, as it were.
Sure, issues were there, but some of these zombie movie makers were making movies to try and be Dawn of the Dead, not, to comment on a social issue.
Of course…around the same time was something that gave all humans reasons to fear pandemics.
While zombie movie makers commented on social and wealth disparities, those disparities made another major social problem worse.
The AIDS epidemic.
You remember, right? When the government, and much of the rich and famous all ignored a problem that largely and disproportionally affected people we refused to give basic human rights to, and would consistently beat, torture, and kill, merely for existing?
Yeah, you remember AIDS.
You may not remember the Avian Flu of the 90’s, but you also might, if not from then, from more recently.
With the 90’s, we got some more variety with zombie content, getting awesome video games to play with, which let us play with the idea of zombies and all the problems they represent being tied up with the idea of evil corporations, a la Resident Evil.
Happy 2000’s, now we get to play with many people’s favorite, the answer to “why are they always slow”-these zombies could run. These zombies could wreck your life, and the turning time, nearly instant. Also, fluids, even a drop of blood, was enough.
You know it…28 Days Later. Excellent film with terrifying zombies that play by all new rules…and let us return to the familiar fear and commentary on viruses and epidemics, something that, as we now know, would forever keep us scared…viruses.
From AIDS to Coronavirus- We get terrified of viruses.
But, not to be outdone by some weak ass not really alive virus, humans have been sure to keep us terrified.
Fear of humans. The zombie stories started to have, in a huge way, more and more asshole or straight up evil human intervention, who either weaponized zombies, tortured humans…sure, we have always had evil people but man, the 2000’s really gave us an uptick in the evil of man in zombie stories…making the zombies seem…kinda not that bad.
Like…man…some humans are worse than the zombies. I mean of course the slow moving ones I can get a head start away from…not the crazy 28 Days Later zombies.
Plenty other zombie stories in modern times have returned to more racist roots, glorifying racists and making them lovable hero’s while turning the awesome zombie genre into a bunch of revenge porn and bad decisions. Humans being shitty humans.
Like it’s their 20’s or something.
Still, we also get more touches on the ideas of safety from zombies, and, presumably, the idea that humans, good and bad, have to overcome other issues, which makes you think maybe there is hope.
Then World War Z came along and deviated so hard from the book that it is really best to just view them as two separate pieces of content with little relation, to better enjoy both, as the film is fantastic but the book is mind-blowing.
World War Z crashed the idea of safe, the movie tearing down the idea of walls, and the book taking down damn near every idea anyone has ever had regarding surviving a zombie apocalypse. Water, even ocean, islands, mountains, deserts, tundra…World War Z, in it’s method of storytelling in the book, tells the tale of many ways zombie fans have insisted they would ride out the zombies in style, and all the ways they fail. World War Z revived the mistakes of other, lesser content, in many ways. Of course, World War Z also touches on the impossibility of coming together in a global way, with so many opposing beliefs, which gives another social angle zombies can represent…the generic thing that will always stop us all from connecting with our fellow humans and banding together for the common good.
Sure, escapism is a good reason to like a zombie movie, or any piece of zombie content, but I always figured it was more about any number of the things the zombies could represent, than the mere act of escapism.
Honorable mention though goes to the idea that zombie movies are meant to give us hope…and that is why I like my zombie movies to have survivors. They ARE meant to give you hope…hope that you can beat whatever social issue the zombies and the situation represent.
So we can in fact, take down evil corporations, or demand better from our government, actually fight against racism, not just post MLK quotes, but like, ACTUALLY fight the white patriarchy every day…zombie movies are meant to give us hope, give us the ability to see ourselves as able to beat back a zombie freaking apocalypse…and in that hope we can attack the rich people who horde the wealth, we can fight the social injustices that keep good people from ever advancing, we can, if we band together, search for all the hidden meanings of these zombie flicks…because all the best ones boil down to the same stuff.
You, and a group of people, the family you seek, are going to work your ass off to stop the wrongs of the world, in the form of zombies, and YOU CAN DO IT.
You CAN beat the zombies.
Zombies represent social issues, and are meant to show us fighting, and eventually winning, those fights.
Don’t let the zombies get you down. Because we all face zombies everyday.
Thanks for fighting, and please keep doing it. Eventually we will all meet up, and wage all out freaking war on the zombies of the day.
Thanks for fighting.
And thanks for reading.