Saturday, February 2, 2013

Welcome to Zombieland.

The Zombocalypse!!!

In modern culture we have been bombarded time and again with zombie movies, zombie shows, zombie games, zombie survival guides, zombie spoofs, zombie this, and zombie that. It's great for all of those who love the craze, those who can't get enough undead. But, should it be a concern for the rest of us? I think that's a good question. And, depending on how you look at things the answer could be yes or no.

The core principle that we must (as always) discuss is What does this mean? Why have we, as a culture, become so engrossed with the undead? Why are all of these zombie things coming out? Is there a common element between both the creators and the watchers that draws them to this genre?

Now, the Preacher might say that these sort of things are evil, the spawn of Satan himself. He might go on a rant on how we should never be afraid, not even of death, or the undead... that is because his beloved Jesus has beaten death... a resurrection will be a good thing... He might think that the fear of these things might be a sin in itself because it shows a lack of trust in God. Whether or not he is correct, I think there's a lot more to say about the sociological and philosophical trends behind this issue.

Entertainment. That's what it is, isn't it?

Greed lies at the heart of many things. Of course, we have those who are just riding the tide. There are money-bags and kingpins scoring big off of the mesmerization that zombiedom can bring. There are always people in it just for the money, looking to get rich. And, whether or not you agree with their coat-tale-riding philosophy, it is one way to make a living.

Still, that doesn't answer the question. What we're searching for here is why people are able to make money off of these things. The Capitalist Democracy has voted (through their monetary funds) and they have decided that zombies are a good investment of their time and money. There is a demand for the kingpins' supply.

This demand goes even deeper than we may realize. The modern culture isn't the first culture to be interested with things undead. Ever since the dawn of time, man has been fascinated with the ideas of life and death... the things they have in common and the things they do not. In the early years of western culture (Dark Ages and prior), death was a daily thing. People were confronted with it and saw it all the time. It wasn't just something that they heard about on TV. And, that wasn't because they didn't have TV. It was because it wasn't really "news-worthy." Imagine, if only there was a way to beat this ever-prominent tragedy.

Enter, the undead. Tales began being spun about those who came back. There were stories being told of witches and witch-doctors, spirits who haunted the graveyards, skeletons rising from their tombs and undead monsters that lurked in the night. To beat death was one thing. But, to come back was another.

Early man wasn't stupid. In their daily witnessing of the dead they saw the maggots and worms, the rats and the scavengers, the rotting and the stench of the decomposed bodies. They knew what death looked like. And, they knew that to come back to that body would be hell.

It would be a wondrous miracle for man to beat the evident evil called death, to live forever free of its reign. They would no longer need to fear the end of their lives. The fear for their family continuing on without their support, the fear of the pain and agony that death must be, and the fear that they do not know what happens next would all completely vanish.

But, to come back to those wretched and putrid bodies, to reenter the carcass of what they once were, to rejoin the living not alive but undead, would be a fate worse than the death that they had primarily feared.

The Fear Factor...

There was no way out. They knew that man had to die. And, they knew that coming back to their bodies would be even worse. They didn't know how they could do away with death once and for all. They didn't know if there would ever be away to defeat this universal and extremely personal present evil. They didn't know why man had to go through this dastardly deed let alone understand how exactly it worked.

We fear what we do not know. Or, at least, we used to...

There's something fascinating about fear. I don't know why. Maybe it's the sudden breath-taking shock that immediately awakens your mind into alertness. Maybe it's that adrenaline kick that bursts through your system making you ready to fight or flight if you had to. Maybe it's the unusual feeling of helplessness that gets your giddies going. But, whatever the case, fear plays a factor.

There's a whole genre dedicated to spreading horror. There are movies, shows, and games about everything from Frankenstein and Dracula to Slither and Big Daddies. There are giant worms who feast off of human beings and female reproductive organs that swallow men whole. A young man feeds the world to carnivorous plants and there are lunatical derby drivers who willingly slay one another for a price. Do you still think the world's alright?? Anyway, these are beside the point. Pouring out of the deepest darkest innards of this realm of horror the undead gush out into a genre of their own.

People may be seeing these movies and shows and playing these video and board games because they are truly afraid of the monsters that are depicted. Perhaps, they do get their giddies out of slaying the undead beast that had first wanted to slay them. Perhaps, they consider it morally and justly sound to kill something that was just about to eat their brain. Maybe it makes them feel good. It could make them feel like they're in control of their fear. And, I'm just as sure that there are those odd cases who are consciously willing to desensitize themselves from their own fear.

But, not everyone is afraid of these things. Even if at one time the child inside the zombie-film fan had been deathly afraid of the monster on the screen, it is more-often the case that there is no longer any real fear there at all. I, for one, know that I'm not afraid. So, what is this draw, this demand?

Once, we were afraid of what we did not know. But, it seems that now there is more apathy than fear. Something we don't understand becomes something we don't really care about. We wouldn't have had any power over something like that anyway... Maybe by becoming apathetic we can pretend to be ignorant. Because we don't care, we don't allow ourselves to see the gravity of the whole situation. We can no longer understand why we should see something as a threat because we had never really given it a second thought in the first place. Anyway...

I found out a long time ago that most horror films suck. If I cannot logically follow the premise, if the movie doesn't explain away the common-sensicalities, then I get bored out of my skull. The only really horrific movies that I can get into are the ones with demons or people who have gone mad. Those seem to be the two most logically sound ideas. Monsters are pretty entertaining, but there are usually common flaws in the way that they are built or maintain themselves that explain them away. Now-a-days vampires kill the original meaning of Dracula. I do like Frankenstein and werewolves, but I seem to be the only one. Plagues and/or viruses seem more far-fetched than I'd want to believe. Perhaps that's my apathy showing up again. But, Zombies are something else.

Although, I am not afraid, I am drawn to the newer zombie films. Why is that?

As I said, Zombies are a whole other genre. What they have lacked in plausibility, they have begun to make up for in story-telling and comedy. But, even more-so, they have done something completely different. They have something specifically geared to this modern generation. It's one of the things that I wouldn't have expected. But, it's perhaps the only thing that makes a story worth telling.


The other horrific monster films obviously have a taint of relatability. But, none of them speak as well to the current world as the undead do.

Why? Because, we have become the monster. This is nothing new.

For ages upon ages, we have known that man is a moral monster. You didn't know that? Just think. (Whether or not you do actually believe absolutes exists:) If you had to prove that there is such a thing as "Good" you could use anything from sunrises and sunsets to love and personal inspiration. That is to say, good stretches all the way from the simplest of nature to the deepest parts of man. Now, try to prove that "Evil" exists. It's not too hard, really. But, I bet that you didn't think of nature. You most-likely thought of mankind.

I do not mean to say that there is no evil in nature. Darwin himself said, "I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars." Still, this type of evil... seems natural. The world just works that way. It doesn't really seem too Bad... let alone Evil. There's something about nature that seems to suggest that it's fine just the way it is. There's something different about humanity. I venture to say that in your attempt to show that Evil exists, you used some sort of human example. You might have thought of the Holocaust or the Connecticut shootings. You might have thought about the love of your life who just-so-happened to rip your heart out and then date your best friend or you might have thought of a hunter killing the last known animal of a certain species. In whatever you chose, it made humanity out to be the bad guy.

In some obscure vein of the public media, we have stumbled upon a reflecting pool. With all of these zombie movies and their horrific predecessor monster films, we are able to see a new light on humanity itself. We are able to remove the veil from the mirror for glimpse of who we really are.

And, who we are scares us.

We see our apathy for what it truly is. It isn't just a chill sort of nonchalance, it isn't just part of who we are to seem cool, in fact, it isn't an act at all. We realize something.

We're dead inside.

We know why zombies crave flesh, blood, and braaains. We're starved for live. We crave anything that makes us feel... anything that can bring us back to life. From sex, drugs, violence... to even horror films... WE WANT TO FEEL.

There's something within sentient and conscious life that makes us think, "We should be better." "We don't have to live like this." "We don't have to be heartless." But, there's also something within our life that hinders us from searching for a cure.

It isn't just a singular personal problem. The whole world is infested. Do you know what America's biggest fear is? It isn't terrorism or disease. It isn't rabid dogs or the dark. Death is number two. America's biggest fear is public speaking. Do you know why? There are zombies out there.

You know what I mean. When someone gets up to speak in public, they know the crowd is judging them. They know that their reputation's at stake. No matter what the speaker says, there will be criticism. And, there's always more bad criticism than good. It isn't only the speaker who feels dead inside. It isn't only a personal problem. They know their audience is dead too.

What keeps them undead is the fact that they still move around. Although, they no longer feel. They no longer care. Their hearts are cold. They remain animate. They yearn for life. But, they come up short. And, while that poor zombie's up there on the podium speaking to all the others, the only life they feel is from tearing her down.

This isn't the only infestation. Have you gone outside? Have you walked the streets? Been to the grocery store? The mall? Public places are always the worst and most-dangerous in the Zombieland. Do you know why? That's where the people were. Daily, we bear witness to the undead. It isn't like the dead that those in the early years saw (above). It's different. It's worse. Although the people out there sure act as if they are alive. They are dead inside. I know it. You know it. They no longer care for the living. They don't give you a smile. They don't wave or say, "Hi." They don't open the door or acknowledge your existence. You'd be lucky if they're talking on the phone. Then, at least, you'd be able to hear their voice... to see that they can come alive when they're talking to someone they already know.

Perhaps the draw to these movies is that they make us feel alive. They show to us that we aren't as dead as the undead on the screen. But, that just hides the fact that we are still dead inside. And, ironically, it shares the fact of how the world really is.

We need something to bring life to our being... to warm our bodies. We look for it in food, love, and entertainment. But, we still often fall short. Many have given up, they proclaim that, "There is no cure!!" Some have become happy with living in ignorance and apathy. Still, many others have been drawn to different stimulus. They seek answers in science, philosophy, or religion.

So far, it seems, the only place that claims a cure is in the Judeo-Christian faith.

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