Monday, July 19, 2010

The (Un)appeal of the Undead … or why we Love our Stinking Zombies

“They are us. And … we are them.” — Ken Foree, “Dawn of the Dead”

How many graveyards do you cruise by on your way to work? How many funerals have you attended? How many people have you watched die on a television or movie screen?
The bodies all have to go somewhere, whether it is the crematorium, the morgue, the mausoleum, or the graveyard.
Stop to think for a moment of the billions buried all around the world. Now, take out the scientific facts about decomposition, bio-decay, cremation, burial at sea, etc.
That’s a shitload of bodies scattered across this spinning ball of a planet.
And, for a moment, imagine if each and every one of those dead suddenly decided they had slept enough and wanted to see what the living were up to.
All at once.
I think that would rival the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark and the flood in devastation. The earth would shake with unrivaled fury, panic would encompass every corner of the globe, and the reaction to it — depending on religious, pragmatic, or logical decision — would devastate the earth.
It would be the end of all life as we know it in a matter of days, if that long.
So, with that little thought of “Holy, jeebus, shit just got real!” spinning around in the forefront of your mind, let me ask you to now consider this: “Why in the hell are zombies so popular in our culture in 2010?”
It is a question many have tried to find a solution to, but have not produced a satisfactory answer. The walking dead have been around since Biblical times, with Lazarus coming out of the tomb, and, later, and more famously, Jesus.
Strangely, Jesus rising from the dead is OK with a lot of people.
But, Johnny from down the street, buried just last week, came home to take a peek, his brother’s brains he seeks, is not anyone’s idea of hilarity or spiritual edification these days.
It is funny how times change.
And, yet, they don’t.
Why, oh, why, are the cannibalistic undead one of the most popular culture clichés nearly 50 years after they became introduced as we now know them? George Romero changed the game with his flesheaters in 1968 with “Night of the Living Dead” and, to this day, every stumbling, glassy-eyed, scabby, leaking, bleeding, dazed fuck that is not addicted to meth and looking to eat a pound or so of flesh is compared to the ghouls he created with that landmark of cinema.
Do we have some kind of lingering kindred sympathy for the dead? Do we hang on to that ideal there is life after death, be it heaven, hell, or purgatory?
Is zombification purgatory?
Is it damnation?
Is it *gasp* literal reincarnation?
I, personally, believe the attraction is the human refusal to accept death. We do not want these 15 minutes of fame of stomping around, going to school, working, raising or not raising a family, dealing with life’s troubles and rewards, garnering wealth or poverty to ultimately go out in a whimper, either with friends and family by our side or alone on the toilet.
Could it be that simple?
We all want that second chance.
Do we empathize with the undead and therefore want to see the zombie dead, jealous of the still living, literally devour what the undead no longer have and want to hold onto? Do we cheer for revenge on the living with these celluloid incarnations?
This is more than likely too much of a loosely philosophical viewpoint to even consider. I am sure someone will compare me to one of the obsessive “Twatlite” fans who obsess over which latent homosexual team they want to join. Fine by me. At least my obsession has a strong track record of not sucking…
Shit. I just realized after typing that Andrew’s job is pointing out the suck on this blog.
There will be no glittering zombies here. That I promise.
I’ll check out the other side myself before that happens.
Please, leave your comments and ideas. This is a meaty topic. Sink your rotting teeth into it. I think I will revisit it a few times in the future.
— Rob


  1. ahhh the image of the undead shambling their way into new york. short of the grave yard zombie attack in the original night of the living dead, probably my favorite zombie image.

  2. There aren't glittering zombies in Twatlife nimrod - you're confusing vampires with zombies, a big no-no for an undead-related blog.

    Anyway, I'd wager that pop culture's obesession with zombies has more to do with them being awesome (their freaking not-dead, man! *passes the reefer*) than with our whimsical fear of death, which typically causes humans to do decidedly unawesome things, like shit our pants.

  3. Are you team Jacob or team Edward?