A coworker once asked me “What’s the attraction of zombies as subject matter”? Actually it was more like, “What’s the deal with people likin’ them there zombies”? The Walking Dead has been rising in popularity, terrorizing millions on AMC. Best seller bookshelves have seen literary fare such as ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’, so this seemed an apt question. My response was immediate and without hesitation:
“Zombies are the perfect foil. They don’t represent a group that would resent being villainized, as zombies are dead there’s no moral question or objection in inflicting violence upon them. However there remains the lingering knowledge that they were once people, in essence they are us, or what we may become”.
Thereby I asserted that zombies are the perfect “bad guy”. Looking back, I’m a bit surprised at how ready I was to defend zombies. I didn’t even have to think about it much. Filming ‘The Walking Dead’ for two seasons now has given ample opportunity for mining rich subtexts out of this grisly topic.
- Do the dead have memories, what motivates them and of course how the hell are they still walking around?
- Should we, as viewers and readers, feel remorseful for viewing the dead in an entertaining way?
- Is there a reverence that should be kept in check?
- Is there an etiquette for such a thing, should there be?
- Is there a clear answer as to why this subject is interesting to some and repellant to others?
- Does fear of death and or questions of what comes afterwards enter into the equation?
- If people find this subject interesting are they morbid or simply have an open mind?
Due to the scarcity of suitable targets for condemnation, classic monstrous icons are being pulled out of mothballs. Zombies, Vampires and Werewolves are assuming a modern make over. Yesterday’s boogeymen are proving to be a time tested sure thing, not to mention scandal-proof. While Hollywood seems to be a desert of originality, classic creatures are the oasis. Re-invention, long a mainstay in cinematic history, seems more popular than ever.
So is using good old dependable 30’s era monsters a smart way of re-inventing things that scare and get under our skin? Are studios and writers uncreative or just taking the easy way to the bank? Is it in bad taste to trot out dead people to use as cannon fodder? Does this push buttons within our psyche? What are your thoughts, we’d welcome you to share with us at nextooze.com by commenting below or on our Facebook page.
For further research check out The Walking Dead on AMC or pick up a prior season DVD at your local library. Michiana libraries also have graphic novels and hardback fiction titles devoted to zombies, literary and cinematic. St. Joseph County and Penn-Harris Mishawaka libraries have a total of 13 branches in the Michiana area, a perfect place to brush up on the undead.