American Zombie Attack, Top Ten Reasons Zombies are so Popular, By Michael D. Griffiths
A zombie loving crazy is sweeping America. Like them or hate them, one has to admit that something about these walking dead has struck a core in the minds and souls of many contemporary Americans. Why is this interest growing so strong? What is it about hordes of near mindless undead that want to eat you alive that is so intriguing to our current culture?
There are now zombie themed children coloring and activity books. “Use more green for his rotting flesh, Bradley.” When I was a child, a magazine featuring black and white pictures of classic horror movies was taken from a fourth-grade neighbor by his mother for being too graphic and inappropriate, luckily it was given to my mother who gave it to me. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I am focusing on these types of things now. Yet, I am not the only one.
Zombie t-shirts number in the hundreds. Personalized license plates like zombieprf announce their intensions on the backs of cars. There are clubs, U-tube shows, and thousands of books are available. Indie movies like Night of the Living Dead have spawned dozens of remakes and have now moved into high budget Hollywood features as well. Even the Center for Disease Control had data about preparing for a zombie attack on their site.
But why is there all this excitement over the living dead? Why has this odd idea taken such a strong hold over our American Group-Think? Like with everything, there is no simple answer, no one reason that our culture has embraced zombies so strongly. But for fun, I have decided to list the top ten reasons I think that the zombie concept appeals to modern Americans as well other others people across our globe.
The Top Ten Reasons Zombies have Become Popular
1. Zombies represent the unknown masses and their eternal consumption.
Some anthropologists, such as Desmond Morris, speculate that the human brain has not evolved socially as quickly as it has technologically. Our technological level allows in some cases millions of people to exist in areas that could have once only supported a few small tribes. This sea of unknown faces causes hidden, and sometimes not so hidden, stressors each day. In some cases, outright mental illness can occur as a result of these overwhelming masses of strangers that close in on us. Zombies represent the danger of these hordes that surround us breaking them down to a base level. Just as we are afraid we will lose ourselves in this sea of humanity, the zombies threaten to devour a person until he or she becomes just one of the teeming crowd.
2. Zombies represent our unending appetites for consumerism.
We all need a few things to survive through this life, but looking at us as a whole, we as a species consume and destroy all life we come across at an alarming rate. In some places on the globe, we altered the environment thousands of years ago. For instance, all the wildlife was hunted out of Tunisia before the birth of Christ. Nothing but livestock and man-made crops exist in what was once a vibrant area. If anything, the rate of consumption gets worse every year. In most of us, there is the clinging Group-Think that one day we might consume it all. Zombies represent this drive to consume all in sight, the swarming masses that eat through life leaving nothing in its wake.
3. Fear of being personally consumed.
This is like number 2 above, but more personal. Many of us feel that we ourselves are being consumed. Our labor and time are eaten up by a boss that pays us wages that do not come close to making our effort worthwhile. We are giving our lives to others to be consumed. So the fear of zombies is also the fear of being consumed. All our time, efforts, are very lives are being consumed by others. In the case of zombies, instead of a drawn out lifetime of drudgery, the consumption is quick, but also very painful.
4. Feeling free of all normal demands.
This one is a good deal more positive that the subjects mentioned previously. During a zombie plague, no one has to worry about going to work, let alone being there on time. Everything becomes free. You want something just go into a store and take it. Sure you might have to fight your way through ten zombies to get it, but in the long run that might be the easier option compared to the demands of our day to day existence. You would not have to mow the lawn or clean ever again. If the place you are staying gets too dirty, just move into the place next door or better yet, go for broke and break into that huge mansion on the edge of town. Even dating might be easier. Women will not be asking you how much you make or which car you drive, they will just be grateful you rescued them from being trapped in a SUZ surrounded by Walkers. And for the ladies, once the plague starts, just being female will probably give you the pick of any of the men remaining. Sure you might go hungry from time to time and your life would be on the line, but at least you would be playing by your own rules and king and queen of your domains. As a final bonus, you would not have to leave your friends and life would be one big sleep over.
5. Fighting back against the hordes of humanity.
As outlined in 1-3 above there is a fear of the overwhelming masses that consume all in their path. But unlike in normal life, in the zombie plague you get to fight back. There might be a lot of them, but if you put them down they will not get back up. Zombies can make more of their kind from surviving breathers, but they can not reproduce, so in theory there is a finite supply. It might be hard, but when you are fighting back, you are doing something positive to make the world a better place and who knows, if you free up an area, you could relax and watch nature reclaim the world.
6. Taking out the people you do not like.
This one is a bit dark, but for some of us, these types of thoughts linger. In our normal world, we often just have to suck up the things that tick us off, whether it is that annoying man next door or the rude clerk at the store. During a plague, we could hunt down these people with glee. Shooting that bully that bugged us through the head, decapitating our ex-wife, or pushing our boss down a flight of stairs, would just be for starters. None of these things are acceptable now, but during the apocalypse, not only are they okay, they are actually encouraged.
7. Temporary Autonomous Zones
Temporary Autonomous Zones or TAZ are rare situations at any point in history. Places where no laws preside have always been hard to come by. The classic example would be a pirate port where a sense of honor or a code of ethics might be all that keeps the place from dissolving into complete anarchy. Closer to home and in a much smaller manner, even camping could be considered a TAZ. It will be up to everyone’s personal honor to decide whether they will help gather fire wood or wash those dirty dishes. During a zombie apocalypse everything becomes a TAZ. Now the person can shine out and become a hero or let his base natures drag him closer to an Id driven animal, but if people get to out of line, you are the law and retribution might just be a bullet away. Overall you are part of the force that makes the rules and you make them to serve you own needs.
8. People will have a chance to be a hero.
Face it, if you grew up within a hundred feet of a television you were raised to want to be rock stars and heroes. Most of us rarely get a chance to be either. Living through an apocalypse would give someone an opportunity to be a hero on perhaps a daily basis. Sure it will be dangerous, but chicks dig it when you save their lives.
9. If it exists you can take it.
Slightly similar to number 4 above, once the zombie plague starts, all material possessions are up for grabs the one thing we will not want is cash, but besides that, most items will be ownerless and most places will be unoccupied, at least by the living. If you never drove a hummer, this is your big chance. A house on the lake, it is all yours for the taking if you can stay alive long enough to do so.
10. During a zombie plague you can be yourself.
This may seem obvious, but through most of our lives we hide who we really are from others. This will not be necessary after an apocalypse. People will be so happy to see other breathers that they will not matter what type of person you are. If you are decent and help out, you will be accepted. The days of living a fake life would be over. You can be who you have always wanted to be and if someone does not like it you can always feed them to the undead.
Obviously there are other reasons the idea of a zombie apocalypse strikes a cord with us and has become a popular cultural icon. But as we have seen, whether the reasons are linked to a dark group-think that affects our inner psyche or the apocalypse would be a chance for a new found freedom, the idea of a zombie plague and even of just zombies themselves have captured our imagination and does not seem to be in any worry of losing this popularity soon.