Zombie Culture

jennimazky By jennimazky, 13th Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Culture

Zombies are everywhere in pop culture and can't be avoided even if you want to. This article is my perspective into some of the reasons that Zombie Culture is so infectious.

We're All Infected

Whether you are a zombie enthusiast or a horror detractor, one thing is certain- we are right smack in the middle of a zombie epidemic with no end in sight. Zombies are everywhere: movies, television, literature, music, video games...there are combie races, zombie pub crawls, zombie survival camps, zombie action figures, and zombie stuffed animals. The subject of the walking undead is tackled by scientists, academics, and amateurs- all with a similar degree of earnestness- and there is even a niche for zombie humor. Pop culture is so thoroughly saturated in the stench of the blood from reanimated corpses that even the uninitiated stand a chance of survival in the event of an outbreak.

We are all infected.

But, why?

It's the question that everyone is asking. Why? What is the basis for this zombie fascination? What are they such big sellers? What happened to vampires? Do zombie enthusiasts themselves know what draws them or are they victims of a hype plague? Is this zombie fascination healthy? Or is it detrimental to society's well-being?

I believe zombies owe a large part of their shuffling juggernaut success to their origin- us. Zombies, as they are known today, exist as a manifestation of the culmination of humanity's greatest fears and most sacred desires wrapped up into one disgusting package. They are death, insurmountable disease, and harbingers of economic and societal collapse. However, they invariably breed hope as no zombie outbreak is complete without a token rugged band of survivors. They allow us to question the resolute nature of both group and individual morality when put to the ultimate do or die test, they bring us back to a simpler world free from the distractions of our technology driven existence, let us look at the many shades of what can be considered survival, and have become an allegory for life after death (however horrible) in our increasingly secular world.

Zombies themselves have undergone a change and have evolved from brain hungry minions of VooDoo masters who crawl up from their graves to flesh munching corpses reanimated by an unknown, underlying infectious plague. Their evolution is reflective of our own evolution. As science continues to unlock the mysteries of disease and as we have grown more knowledgeable of death it's harder to embrace a zombie rising from 6 feet under controlled by a malevolent magical force, and easier to envision an incurable pandemic. Every change of season brings with it news of a new superbug- viral and bacterial infections resistant to medicine (largely due to our own human error of trying to eliminate the coughs and colds which serve to build our immune system). We love zombies because they seem plausible and explainable by science...despite the terrifying implications.

Zombie plagues being somewhat plausible makes the ideas behind a zombie apocalypse more real than most other horror genres focused on fantastical creatures like vampires, demons, and nightmare trolling serial killers. The more real an antagonist, the easier it is for an audience to put themselves into that setting and become immersed in a mind-set. It makes people wonder what it would be like, what it would take to survive, and if they could survive.

Which is another draw of zombie culture. It taps wholly into humanity's survival instinct. It forges a primal connection in the psyche, forcing the individual to contemplate who they would be as a survivalist...because everyone wants to be a survivor. It's the force behind our most basic needs and it is what makes every person on earth the same. We want to live.

Wanting to live on is a trait that unifies every singe person on the Earth despite race, religion, sex, social status, gender identity, or any other trait people like to quibble over. Which, I believe, involves another simple reason zombies are the ambling front-runners in this popularity contest. Zombies are the great equalizer. Zombies are transcendent. They beat out (classically defined) death, are unaffected by disease, equally affect the poor and the wealthy, the young and old, the gay and straight, and the males and females. They are a mass of non-discriminatory shades of their former selves driven to make anyone and everyone in their gluttonous path the same- the main course. Zombies create an even playing field as pop culture depicts them taking down celebrities and military installations with as much ease as people doing their grocery shopping or standing in line at the bank.

In American culture, particularly, which was founded on equality for all men (please refrain from your arguments of slavery and women's rights at this point) I believe this quality may speak the loudest. In our land of opportunity, complete with gold-paved streets, it has become increasingly apparent that equality for the masses is a national farce. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the everyman persists in the inescapable social structure. Zombies take that all away. Zombies make it so that no man is better than any other, in fact, they may give the advantage to the everyman- the skilled and unskilled working class who are more practiced in the art of ingenuity. In Zombie Culture it's not the rich and powerful with their fortified mansions or heavily armed military troops who are the survivors- it is the everyman who is willing and able to make something out of nothing, think on their feet, and do anything it takes to make it through the day. Anyone has the ability to survive, but not everyone can. It comes down to motivation and character when fending off the zombie horde.

Speaking further to the pull of the masses into Zombie Culture is the overall simplicity of zombies themselves. As much chaos, fear, and desperation that they breed- zombies are elegant in their simplicity. Their faces are our faces (albeit mauled and rotting), they are driven by the sole need of sustenance, and their only weakness is the brain. They are simple to understand and theoretically simple to destroy, which makes their pervasiveness a seductful mind-blow. They have no camouflage, no ulterior motives, are unperturbed by the elements, use no weapons, and are unfazed by injury. They are simply kill or be killed, rotted personifications or pestilence and plague. But their simplicity kills us. Wearing our faces, victims of a communicable disease, it causes a desire and need for a cure, which results in people working in too close contact with zombies and their infectious fluids. The death toll rises. Their resemblance to us gives some people an initial pause when confronted (specifically by a child or infected loved one) and hesitation isn't a weakness that the zombie suffers. The death toll rises. Zombies do not tire, get sick, need water, incur injury, and are driven by their own hunger pains whereas humans suffer all of these. The death toll rises. We turned ourselves into our own horrifically perfect enemy.

There are many other reasons why zombie fever is catching, which may or may not be more accurate than what is outlined her, involving zombies reflecting our current economic state, or zombies as an increasingly secularized society's allegory for Jesus/Hell on Earth/the Rapture, but these are answers that speak to me- the everyman- and are probably reasons that are related to by most (however subconsciously) who are infected by Zombie Culture.


Article, Death, Disease, Movies, Philosophy, Plague, Pop Culture, Survival, Survivors, Television, Voodoo, Zombie Culture, Zombies

Meet the author

author avatar jennimazky
I'm a 26 year old writer with tattoos, a stepson, and determination to make a name for myself. I enjoy writing about my own life, zombies, writing, and...things that perplex me.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
26th Nov 2013 (#)

Interesting perspective - siva

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author avatar jennimazky
26th Nov 2013 (#)

Thank you...it came to me when a friend of mine who doesn't like zombies asked me why I was so into it, since normally I'm not a fan of anything horror related.

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