Zombies! Who Doesn’t Love Zombies?

If I didn’t write a post in response to Lev Grossman’s (this is the second post I’ve written in response to your writing in less than a week) “Zombies are the New Vampires,” then I wouldn’t be a very good zombie fan.

While I can get behind a lot of what Mr. Grossman says in the piece (esp. the title in general) I take some qualms with the opening paragraph.  Especially, the first two sentences, in which Mr. Grossman writes “If there’s a social hierarchy among monsters, zombies are not at the top of the list. They may not even be on the list.”  Fuck that dude!  Sure, maybe they don’t beat vampires quite yet, but seriously, zombies have to tromp werewolves in the monster popularity poll.  In fact I really want to know what people choose for their favorite monster, just out of curiosity.

Okay, you may disagree with some of the “monsters” I included on the list (sure aliens might belong in a category of their own and robots and ghosts are arguably not monsters, but deal with it goddammit!).  So let me know that you think.

Also, being an avid Warren Zevon fan and fully willing to admit that “Werewolves of London” is an amazingly badass song, I will argue that Zevon indeed wrote a classic of zombie music (albeit, a slightly different take on zombies than Mr. Romero’s version).  I speak of the wondrous ballad that is “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.”  Sure it is a lot of social commentary and all, but seriously, it is about an undead mercenary coming back for revenge.  Yes it defies the rule of “remove the head, defeat the zombie” but fuck it, that is what artistic license is for!  And if you are not satisfied with “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” as a zombie song might I suggest Tom Petty’s wonderful “Zombie Zoo” or, in case you couldn’t think of it yourself, The Cranberries “Zombie.”  And , Mr. Grossman already mentions “Thriller” so what more do you need?

All that being said, I will reiterate my opinion as to why zombies make such good monsters (which I am sure I have shared multiple times previously on this blog).  I personally think it is because zombies present one of the longest lasting areas of philosophical discussion, that being the Mind/Body Duality debate.  What zombies do is create a foil to the question of Mind/Body and suggest nothing short of primal body with an all-around lack of mind.  This can be a horrifying concept to deal with.  As conscious beings, I think we posses an overall revulsion towards the corpus with a lack of driving animus.  This has been reiterated in Masahiro Mori’s Uncanny Valley theory, where the zombie exemplifies the highest degree of revulsion and disgust.  In the vein of the lack of animus a zombie become the most horrifying monster in that there is no reasoning that can be presented to it, it is primarily function alone, even a wild animal can be thought to possess more being or purpose than the shambling corpse.  Whereas a werewolf or vampire has the potential (though not necessity) to retain some sense of humanity, the zombies only drive is its insatiable hunger.  This creates a monster that fundamentally terrifies us in regard to the unnerving aspects of death, not just as a physical being, but as a conscious self.

Further, I would say that the use of the zombie apocalypses presents some of the most though provoking looks as human social psychology and concepts of economic demand.  Much of the conflict in any good zombie fiction has equal importance played out to the material demands of the survivors as it does to the risk of ending up brain chomped by the ravenous undead.  Supply and demand in  turn influences social situation as to who becomes valuable in any survivor group dynamics, and who gets turned out to fend for themselves against the zombie hoards.

So really, I’d say that zombies have a whole lot going for them (just not much in the thinking grey matter realm).  Give it a thought, watch a good Romero movie (preferably “the Night of the Living Dead” which is probably the best one, though his “Dawn of the Dead” is pretty great too), play a Resident Evil game (I was always a fan of #3, but #5 looks pretty fuckin’ awesome).  Zombies, fuck yeah!

For your viewing pleasure . . . The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” which, admittedly is meant as a social comentary in regards to the troubles in Northern Ireland, but still, the video could unquestionably be about a zombie infested world.

~ by Nathaniel on April 13, 2009.

3 Responses to “Zombies! Who Doesn’t Love Zombies?”

  1. Another zombie-centric song of note: “George Romero” by Sprites. If you’re not familiar, there’s a handy link to an mp3 at http://www.sprites.org.uk/sounds.html

    Oh…! By the way, Free Comic Book Day is on May 2nd, and when I saw that one of the comics in the free pile is anchored around both zombies and mushrooms, I figured it’d be worth flinging a link your way: http://www.freecomicbookday.com/comic.asp?ID=16

    The preview looks pretty terrible, but it’s free, so “Attack Of The Alterna-Zombies!” still might be worth keeping an eye out for if you’re bored a couple of Saturdays down the line and don’t mind hitting up one of the stores on Laurens Rd.

    I’ll cut myself off here so I won’t ramble on for another ninety-eight paragraphs about zombies.

    Also, I think it’s pretty awesome that of the four “possibly related posts” links that WordPress rattled off above, three are about zombies and the fourth is about breastfeeding (?). Another thumbs-up for working “Uncanny Valley” into conversation. I hadn’t heard that used in any other context than robots and CG effects before. (I hadn’t heard the term before doing some freelance journalismish stuff at ILM.)

    • Hey man, thanks for the comment and links. The comic looks a little silly but heck it does have Lincoln and Jesus battling zombies so it can’t be half bad. Also the song is pretty kickin’ don’t know how I never heard that one before.

  2. Shit . . . just remembered another zombie related song, that of course being Sufjan Steven’s wondrous “The Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have COME BAck from the Dead!! Ahhhh!” off of his album Illinoise. It annoys me that I missed this for so long, as I love that album and song. Oh well, what is one to do?

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