Aug. 22nd, 2013

peteyfrogboy: (rook)
So last night it finally occurred to me why the modern zombie genre has become so popular. I've heard some vague notion that zombies represent consumerism or something like that, but that never really rang true to me. Perhaps everyone else got this already, but I think what the zombie horde represents more than anything else is insecurity, primarily financial insecurity. Credit card and mortgage debt expands like the multiplying horde of the infected. Student loans will stalk you to the ends of the earth, and canot be killed. Is there a medical emergency lurking outside the door, waiting to leap on you and gnaw on your skull? Maybe not right now, but someday it will get you. One day one of the monsters will find you, and your life will be over, reduced to mindless shuffling and moaning as you pay and pay and pay until someone mercifully shoots you in the head.

The genre also focuses on lack of faith. More often than not, the government is the ultimate source of the zombie plague, and if they do anything about it, they are covering their own asses, not helping you. They'll nuke you along with everyone else. Science is in the same boat. Even religion, which can at least keep vampires away with a properly wielded cross, is useless against the modern zombie. There is no knight in shining armor or cavalry coming to save us. All our heroes have feet of clay, and stagger along with the rest of the hungry masses. This is how we feel about the world, and this is what makes the image compelling.

So if the zombie genre is simply a reflection of our own fears, why is it so popular, more so than standard horror tropes? All of these fears are invisible in the real world, and the zombie gives them tangible, rotting flesh. While we feel completely powerless against the faceless collection agency, at least the zombie can be thwarted with a baseball bat or shotgun, at least for a while. The zombie apocalypse survivor is not just the hero of the libertarian and gun nut, but the secret hope we all have that there might be something we can do to fight back against a world that seems hopeless and always, always, always out to get us.
peteyfrogboy: (rook)
In the movies, there are usually a few places where people have managed to survive the initial onslaught. Let's look at these.

First, we have the military base/science lab. This is a fortified compound that can keep the hordes out without really having to try too hard, but they don't really want to let you in because they have finite resources. Are you a soldier or a scientist? If not, get lost. Sure, sometimes they might help you out, but most of the time they are jerks. Even though they aren't in any real danger themselves, they never have a solution for the bigger problem. Who are these guys? They are the 1%, and we are not them.

Next we have the hermits. They live far from civilization, and the zombie apocalypse has barely affected them. They are self sufficient, and though their lifestyle may not be as fancy as the world before the hordes came, they're really not that worried about it. These guys aren't even really a metaphor. It doesn't matter if the fears are given flesh or not; they have separated themselves so far from the rest of the world that they don't care. If you want to come live with them, cool. Hope you like farming.

And then we have the survivors, the rebuilders. They've holed up in a hospital or an old school, banding together in the ruins of civilization to try to make a stand. They're afraid, but hopeful. They've recreated society on a human scale, where everything happens face to face and you know who you can count on through personal experience. These are the peer lenders, the Kickstarters, the Occupiers. Their barricades may not hold, but they're trying to find a way to survive together, rather than going it alone.

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