Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Five Reasons We Find Zombies So Fascinating

Zombies! Those hideous, mindless, exhausted, filthy creatures who just can't stop moving forward, obsessed with consuming the most mysterious and amazing thing on earth, human brains. Lumbering along, grasping and groaning; they've loped their way up to becoming the most popular of the supernatural evil beings of the early 21st Century. Mummies, Frankenstein's many monster incarnations and vampires have all had their runs of popularity, vampires still going pretty strong, but zombies are taking the lead with their many diverse varieties. In an attempt to figure out what the attraction is, I've come up with a short list.

1. Let Off Some Steam; Blow Away Some Zombies.
With the exception of the historic Voodoo zombie, where the idea probably originated, zombies weren't very common until around the mid 20th Century. Coincidentally (or not), this was after WWII and the middle class office culture, nuclear family, house-in-the-suburbs lifestyle became the American Dream of Western culture. I think all of us who have striven to realize this dream can relate to zombies in the wearing and tearing of day to day struggles to, not only obtain this lifestyle, but to maintain it as the material possessions and means to attain them become more complicated and expensive to possess. In the desire to relieve the stress of  the daily grind and ever present fear of losing everything we've worked so hard for along with the fear of loss of control over the things that allow us to live this lifestyle, like our jobs, we wish we had some mindless moving targets to mow down with a high powered automatic weapon without being locked up for the rest of our lives. A herd of zombies would suffice.

2. No More Laws and Financial Obligations.
I think the zombie craze really picked up after 911 when we in western society had to face the fact that it is a possibility that some outside force could cause our society to break down into lawless anarchy leaving us all in a situation of survival of the fittest and a vicious competition for few and rapidly diminishing resources. Just seven years after 911, we were cursed with the Great Recession, which forced many people to lose all those possessions that make up and define the American Dream. Middle class citizens of other countries suffered severe losses during the recession as well, some much more than Americans. People helplessly lost everything they had worked so hard for.

3. The Best of Both Worlds.
Zombies are the opposite of the death experience humans expect to have, especially humans who believe in some sort of a spiritual afterlife once the body ceases to function. While people expect their bodies to die and, hopefully, their soul to live on; zombies bodies remain animated while their minds and/or spirits die. I think that's the scariest part of zombie life. Loss of control over bodily functions, loss of freedom of choice, inability to make decisions or experience any kind of emotion. Actually, some days I'd welcome a little temporary numbing of the mind.

4. Sometimes don't we all feel like the walking dead? 
Especially, during the stage of life where you're working all day, raising a family, taking care of a house, maybe caring for your parents as well. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in a day and you never stop running. You get to a point where you've got routines down so efficiently that even though you're running non-stop day after day,  you're on cruise control and the exhaustion is so overwhelming that you don't think about what you're doing. You just keep doing it because if you think about it, you might lose momentum and not be able to get yourself back up to speed. So you turn off your mind and move steadily forward until one day you wonder where the years went.

5. Life Could Be Worse. Zombies Could be Threatening Your Loved Ones.
 There's an idea of consciously tallying up things to be grateful for that's probably been around since the beginning of humankind. However, it seems like in recent decades our culture has been really shoving it down our throats. All the self-help literature advises us to battle depression and anxiety and overall unhappiness by acknowledging all the things we have to be grateful for every day. I have found a really easy way to do this is by watching zombie movies and TV shows and imagining myself as one of the survivors. Zombie movies are really about the survivors and the challenges they face as they struggle to maintain their status as survivors. Otherwise, the movie would be as dull as watching grass grow. Life may be stressful, difficult at times and occasionally some situations seem intolerable, but at least reanimated corpses aren't trying to kill my loved ones and eat their brains!

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