Zombies are dead people that come to life to eat brains and get shot in the head. We’ve been making zombie movies since the 60s, but only because they’re such a powerful metaphor! A metaphor for, uh… ANYTHING. Paul Waldman recently wrote about the phenomenon for the American Prospect (via the NYTimes), and as you can imagine it’s totally not a pointless thought experiment!
Apart from the extreme violence, is the zombie genre fundamentally liberal or conservative? Does its increasing popularity serve anyone’s political ends?
Oh please, Paul Waldman, tell me the answer! All this time I’ve been wondering whether they represent abortion or the welfare state or gay Republicans or dickbags who can’t write!
I would argue that at its heart, the genre is a progressive one. It’s true that fighting off the zombie horde requires plentiful firearms, no doubt pleasing Second Amendment advocates. And in a zombie movie, government tends to be either ineffectual or completely absent. On the other hand, when the zombie apocalypse comes, capitalism breaks down, too — people aren’t going to be exchanging money for goods and services; they’re just going to break into the hardware store and grab what they need (and if you think your private health insurer is going to be paying claims for treatment of zombie bites, you’re living in a dream world) [Haha, good one, Jay!]. But most important, what ensures survival in a zombie story are the progressive ideals of common cause and collective action.
Every time someone starts a statement with “at its heart” I secretly wish they’d get stabbed in the heart. Is that irony? In conclusion…
[Thanks to Fek for the .gif]