Yesterday I had the most intelligent conversation that I've had in quite awhile with one of my former students who shall be called "D" to protect her street cred. The topic? Zombies. D is very anti-zombie. She thinks Hollywood hasn't done anything original with zombies in years and that the stories have gone too far from the voodoo origins of zombies for them to even be considered zombies.
I, clearly, am pro-zombie. I agree that some Hollywood zombie stuff really sucks, but for the most part, I enjoy it. I really like The Walking Dead. It's a well-written story that is as much about the survivors and the things they're willing to do to survive, as it is the zombies themselves.
D talked about voodoo and religion; she even took a college class that covered it (obviously not my class). I talked about societal factors like a poor economy and a feeling of hopelessness that tends to mirror the ZA (zombie apocalypse for all you non-nerds). She didn't change my mind and I didn't change hers, but we still had an intelligent discussion. How often does that happen anymore? (sadly, not often. even though I work at a college.) Ultimately, it ended with me telling her I respect her opinion on zombies, even though I don't agree with it, and that I expect her to not get pissy when she gets bit in the ZA and I have to take her out.
I really do think the zombie/undead genre is a good reflection of the lack of hope some people feel these days. The economy is bad. So many people have lost jobs and homes through no fault of their own in many cases. We feel cheated because life isn't fair and good things also seem to go to the wealthy or the popular or the good-looking. The zombie fantasy appeals because it's a great equalizer. Zombies don't care if you're rich or handsome, they just want to eat your brains. Suddenly, in that world, the people who are smart, strong and prepared are the ones who survive. Money and good looks are useless. Unemployment doesn't matter because no one is working. The Average Joes and the below-Average Joes are the new heroes. Just look at the Daryl Dixon character in The Walking Dead. He's an uneducated racist redneck who manages to grow into a non-racist, badass, zombie-kiling stud. I'd be willing to bet most men who watch the show want to BE Daryl Dixon and most women want to DO Daryl Dixon. (At least as long as he got a shower.)
Thinking about how people like zombie stuff because it's the great societal equalizer, I realize it's kinda weird that I like them. I'm not wealthy or particularly beautiful or popular, but I definitely am doing better now than I would in the ZA. I can list too many reasons why I'd probably be the first to get my brains eaten.
They include, but are in no way limited to the fact that I, am out of shape (Zombieland rule #1 - cardio), do not keep weapons in my home, can't cook if a microwave isn't somehow involved, and am a big wuss. I guess I just like watching a "reality" that is really, really unpleasant and (as far as I know) also really, really unlikely. It's nice to know that no matter how bad things may be on a certain day, at least no one is trying to turn me into their lunch.
I don't really know if there is an overall point to this post, other than the fact I just have had this stuff running through my brainnnsssssss (yes, I went there) and thought maybe someone else might want something nerdy to discuss.