I’m a Zombie Girl

Confession time: I am a zombie fanatic. I watch zombie films, I read zombie books, I keep up with The Walking Dead, and I sometimes play zombie games. Well, I play Plants Vs. Zombies anyway. I have a difficult time playing the more realistic, adult-oriented games because, as anyone who has ever tried to play a post-Super Nintendo game with me can tell you, I’m terrible at first person shooter games (I run into walls constantly and only do good things on accident.

Several years ago, I came across this article by Chuck Klosterman. In it, Klosterman explains that one of the reasons for the recent zombie craze is that killing zombies feels much like our modern way of life-endlessly deleting e-mails, texts, and shuffling through doing-what-has-to-be-done. But this article by Steven Schlozman takes a different approach, seeing zombies as a cautionary tale about striking the balance between individuality and being a pack animal. There are, of course, a host of other things that help to account for our fascination with zombies (some of which are discussed in the aforementioned articles): fear of disease, fear of death, etc.

In this post, I outlined the etymology of “monster” and discussed some of the more famous monster hoaxes. But zombies seem to be operating a different level than these hoaxes. We seem at once aware of the zombie as a fictional character and concerned about the plausibility of a zombie outbreak. And the result of our fascination is that zombies have become a multi-million dollar industry:

Courtesy of: Wish.co.uk

As for me, there are three simple but terribly true reasons that I find zombie stories compelling. The first is the world that gets created when everything fails-the government, and by extension education, social welfare, prison systems, road maintenance, etc.; and modern inventions, including electricity, the Internet, GPS, running water, and telecommunications. Watching others cope with such struggles reminds me of the privilege I have now and how different life could be, not just in the event of a zombie apocalypse, but in the face of being born elsewhere in the world.

The second is the failure of modern notions of childhood, morality, and socioeconomic status to hold up under the pressures of a post apocalyptic world. In Zombieland, one of most disturbing erosions of culture is the loss of names; in The Walking Dead, it’s the loss of childhood embodied by Carl, Judith, and Carol’s decision to teach the children about knife safety and zombie killing during story-time; in 28 Days Later, it’s ownership of the female body. The list goes on, but I won’t, except to say that, again, these conversations mirror conversations that we have daily, that we rehearse in our arguments about these concepts.

And the third thing is the complexities that arise when we see something human that isn’t human. Or that we don’t think is human. In Shaun of the Dead, the undead are able to be trained to perform simple tasks. In Warm Bodies, they retain something of their prior selves and can think and feel. (TV Tropes has a handy list of all sorts of zombie stuff. You’ll get stuck.) And there is a repeated scene in which someone must kill a loved-one-turned-zombie, one that turns up in virtually every piece of zombie fiction ever.

And so I’m a zombie girl because I love thinking about these things, and because I love to be scared.

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34 Comments

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  1. One thing that appeals to me regarding the zombie genre, when everyone is running for the hills, and living hand to mouth in almost paralyzing fear, is that everyone is equal. More or less anyway. Societal hierarchy is either erased or significantly rearranged. And in this possibility, the infinite worlds, so much good story can be written. Reading a good zombie novel is so much like playing a game of “what would I do?” and I love to play games.

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    1. Yes. And one of the reasons it’s so interesting is because the characters still have that social programming (as are their creators), but they’re in a whole different world, so everything shifts by necessity.

      Funny, Little Jedi was asking me something about zombie stories tonight, and I mentioned to him that the stories are always really about the humans.

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  2. I’m kind of surprised that M. J.’s Thriller wasn’t included on that “poster” of the Zombie Industry. Has there ever been a music video that was half as big as that one? And I’m not even an M. J. fan.

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  3. Reblogged this on Part Time Monster and commented:

    Today I’ve got to skip out of town to pick up Little Jedi from his grandparents’ house, and it’s also terribly loud outside–they’re replacing the water mains on our street, just in front of our house right now. So here’s something I published 6 months ago when the blog was just a fledgling, up front and center for your perusal. 🙂

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    1. haha. Yes, we had some technical issues. When I put in the infographic, it messed up some of the HTML coding.

      I’m happy to see at least one of those characters gone, though I’ll miss our Old Man.

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  4. Really excellent post. I’ll have to read those articles. I’ve always preferred vampires, but even then it’s the “classic” vampires I gravitate to (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Lestat). Maybe it’s the fear factor: I’m not as frighten of vampires as I am of zombies. Vampires are easily romanticized; zombies, no so much. The first zombie film I saw was Night of the Living Dead, at a drive-in no less. I was terrified for days (and nights) after 😉

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    1. Thank you! I really love those articles. I’ve used them in composition classes before because college students seem to really connect with them.

      I too love vampires, quite a lot, but I tend more toward zombie stories. Part of what I like is that, as you mentioned, they’re not so easily romanticized, so the chill factor is almost always there. And quite often, it’s the people who are the bad guys in bigger, badder ways than the zombies themselves, who are generally quite easy to kill.

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  5. I also find the zombies to be very fascinating. It has gotten to the point that hubby and I often judge people by whether or not we would want to be in their camp during the zombie apocalypse. 😉

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      1. haha…I’m glad it’s up to standards. 😉

        Yes. I had to go in and delete some of the code that the infographic formatting put in there and rewrite the code with double line breaks.

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  6. WordPress doesnt really like you to paste things in. If you write things in another program and paste them into the dashboard, WordPress will screw with your formatting. Seems like they have some programmers who delight in doing that.

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  7. Dear god. Its that really all one single textblock with a flyer in the middle, or am i totally wasted and just not seeing the paragraph breaks? (it is a really excellent post, otherwise).

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