Zombie Culture

It can be interesting to consider the subtext of novels and movies. For instance, Alien, Ridley Scott’s space horror, is said to be about the fear of rape. Stephen King’s Misery, the tale of a writer forced to write a novel by an obsessed fan, is actually about alcoholism. Eli Roth’s Hostel is (trust me on this) a light-hearted look at the insularity of some Americans refracted through an irrational fear of foreigners. (Think about it, nothing that happens in Hostel requires the victims to be abroad.) Gangster movies are popular because they allow us to vicariously break the rules and do whatever we want as we stick it to the man. There is much in popular culture which isn’t about what it appears to be about on the surface and this is how it should be. Oculus is a (rather good) horror movie which is a skewering of the Sleeping Beauty story and seems to be about the fear of becoming less attractive with age. This brings me to the point. Why are zombies popular?

The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television and season five has just finished. Season 6 is due to start in October this year, but, so popular is this show, the network has commissioned a spin-off show which is due in the summer. There are many zombies movies – too many to bother mentioning. Why are zombies popular?

The world in which zombies roam must (obviously) be a sort of post-apocalypse world because the zombies are the apocalypse. It leaves groups of human survivors struggling for food and water and fighting each other for scarce resources; the zombie world offers humans an abnormally unpleasant (and very likely) death as they are literally ripped to pieces by the undead. The zombie world is the opposite of the gangster world, in which our hero-characters live in luxury, can throw money about because the next score will bring another bundle and have a ready supply of ladies to calm their jagged nerves. Allowing for the existence of subtext – which is hardly an outrageous move – why are zombies popular?


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