I think I finally realized what the zombie appeal is… After all, why are we so taken with the walking, mutilated, brain-feasting, undead horrors we call zombies? (I’m sure I’m not the first person to write on this, but I’ve never read their stuff. This is what recently occurred to me…)
I mean “we” in the general populace sense of the word. I’ve only seen “fringer” zombie movies like Warm Bodies and I am Legend (or is that vampires…?). But I teach kids. And when given a chance to create their own characters in mime class the two overwhelming top choices are ninjas and zombies.
[Maybe another day I’ll write about ninjas. (…or maybe I already did and you just can’t see it!)]
But the appeal of zombies, I believe, is multi layered.
- It plays on popular fears. If you fear it, zombies can give it to you. Fear of disease, fear of plague, fear of torture, fear of losing your mind, fear of other people, fear of people you love turning against you, fear of tripping in public… we could go on. It’s a way of facing our fears, and asking the question what would happen/what would I do in (insert terrifying situation)?
- It plays on boredom. There ain’t no setting like zombie apocalypse setting, ‘cuz a zombie apocalypse setting is your own backyard! Ever just wish your life was more interesting? Add some zombies!!! Bored at the mall? Add some zombies! Bored at school? Add zombies! Bored in a small Midwestern town with nothing to do? Zombies! It’s the perfect solution to a mindless day.
- It gives you social commentary. If you need it. I’m not saying you’ll ever have to get past the first two points. But come on: walking dead, mindless droning, brainwashed, brain-eaten, a vast evil that overwhelms our petty differences, just wanting a hug… you could see how parallels could be drawn…
- It feeds our gruesome. I’m not sure why, but for some reason people still seem to want to see limbs being chopped off, and blood gushing. I know [assertively] that articles have been written on why we like horror (I’ve even read a few) but I remain unconvinced. I never have enjoyed that myself. Maybe it’s funnier when you’re a bored, first-world citizen. I bet zombie movies are not as popular where the living are already chopping one another to bits… but it can’t be denied that there are people who just like to see gross and horrible things.
- It plays off our feeling of being the living dead. I think everyone has their days—for me it’s everyday between 7:09am and when I actually get breakfast in me. Maybe seeing a zombie hobble past is the only reminder some people have that they actually are alive, or that it could be worse. It’s a form of catharsis. If you want to get philosophical, aren’t we all just hopelessly plodding through life, moaning
Or are we?
I’ve blogged about hopelessness before. Let’s look at this last reason a moment.
If zombies are your catharsis for feeling purposeless, hopeless, or dead, how do you feel alive? Do you go out and try to live life harder, louder, faster? Zombies themselves make us experience fear and horror. Are you looking for an emotional jolt? Maybe thrill-seeking, or pleasure seeking is your solution.
I say there’s a better way. You can feel alive, have purpose, have hope, enjoy your life and emotions—and it doesn’t take blood squibs, special effects, or creepy music to do it!
The Apostle Paul has a commentary on the living dead himself in Ephesians 2. I’ll leave it with him.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Sounds like a ton of purpose and life to me. That’s good.