The Fascinating Undead: Why We’re Totally Obsessed With Zombies
It was once The Beach Boys. Later, it would be the fanny pack. But today, one of the biggest trends permeating American culture isn’t music or fashion-related; its zombies. Everywhere you look, you’ll find zombie movies, zombie shows, zombie games, and even zombie social events. For something so gruesome, the undead and infected are strangely interesting to us. So what’s the deal? Here’s a quick breakdown of the phenomenon surrounding the super hot media zombie.
When you think about it, zombie movies like “The Walking Dead,” – which netted six million viewers during its season two finale – is strangely reminiscent of another type of TV and movie genre; the western. And no, thus far most zombie shows are void of any Clint Eastwood or leather chaps, but it is the same old shoot ’em up that you’ve seen for years. Westerns haven’t been popular for decades, but zombie entertainment has picked up the torch by showing two parties going toe-to-toe with each other, complete with damsels in distress, a ton of gun slinging, and memorable one-liners.
While the idea of a zombie takeover is pretty far-fetched, it seems like that the idea of a bacteria-based apocalypse is still in the collective minds of survivalists everywhere. Zombie shows and movies usually showcase just how woefully unprepared the general public would be in the face of any kind of apocalypse. If anything, they teach you to wash your hands often and build a bulletproof bunker under your house.
We’ve all heard the cautions against watching mindless violence. Some in the mental health community have pointed toward desensitization as the result for violent acts in real life. Fine, if we can’t watch human-on-human violence, then human-on-zombie violence is the next best thing. Because zombies are technically dead already, someone who gets squeamish in a violent movie might not bat an eye when it’s a zombie at the other end of the gun. It also could explain why zombie games are so popular; they allow you to fulfill for your dreams as a covert ops agent, but no humans are harmed in the making of your fantasy.
OK, so the actuality of zombies is pretty slim. So far, there is no virus that would kill humans, only to have them come back as brain-dead flesh eaters. However, it doesn’t hurt to plan, does it? Zombie media sets off that inner monologue with yourself as to whether or not you’d survive a zombie apocalypse. What would you do? How would you protect your home? Would you fight back? While it’s definitely hypothetical, a little survival critical thinking never hurt anyone. On the bright side, if you were to be besieged by zombies, you would totally know what to do after watching “28 Days Later” six times over.
Hey, no one is trying to scare anyone here – wait, that’s exactly what’s going on. What makes zombie media so much more enjoyable than say, serial killer or even paranormal media, is that there is so little chance that it could come to fruition. That means you’re scared while watching the movie, but not so frightened that you have to sleep with a nightlight.
Sure, zombies are having a moment, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be the hottest monster forever. Still, as long as audiences are clamoring for the undead, the undead will clamor back and zombie media will stick around for a while before it fizzles out. Before them, it was vampires. Who knows what could be next; the Wolfman?