Zombies, Hope, and the Easy Way Out

My fascination with zombie culture isn’t a morbid one. Zombie film and literature is exciting for its undead mandibles chewing through civilization, but it’s not the gore that keeps me entranced by what I call the Zombie Movement. The Walking Dead is appealing for what must be award-winning zombie make-up but that’s not what makes me turn to AMC every Sunday. It’s something else; something existential.

What fascinates me about zombie culture is the hypothetical after. I never get tired of different artists’ suppositions on what this world will look like, what our humanity will become, when something rocks our foundations and leaves us irrevocably changed. Because something will change us, and I am eternally interested in what it will be and how we will react to whatever it is.

Maybe I am just a misanthrope, and my curiosity about the After is a gruesome excitement for the end of human reign and the taking up of the torch by another supremacy; perhaps of a kingdom I like better—the reign of the platypus, perhaps, or the lemur. Maybe I like nature too much, because the idea of the Empire State Building covered in moss and vines excites me beyond all reason.

But maybe it’s because underneath all my cynicism is hope. I dread the idea that it would take a zombie apocalypse to bring out the good in us, but somewhere in the zombie fascination is the idea that if we could just start over, press the reset button, begin again, we could get things right. The zombies might eat more than flesh—they might eat capitalism, world war, colonialism.

But that’s the easy way out, isn’t it? We’d rather the undead eat all our problems than solve them ourselves? Typical. But it’s great as social theory.

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