All right, somebody needs to explain the zombie thing. It's not just movies and video games, there is something else going on. There's a Zombie Survival Wiki and a Zombie Preparedness Initiative. Then you've got the Zombie Squad's forum on zombie biology and another one on zombie combat tactics. Here's an index of 80 threads from the "All Things Zombie" forums on various zombie survival tactics.
It's gone beyond good fun. It's not just a mere obsession. These people are actually preparing for a zombie apocalypse. So why is everyone so eager for a world devoid of life, but full of the undead?
We think we have an idea.
It's pretty obvious why zombies appeal to the baser instincts of certain individuals. Most zombiephiles are young males and if you want young males to, say, buy a ticket to your movie, it needs to have a hero that kicks somebody in the face at some point. Then hopefully the bad guy falls out of a plate glass window, crashes into a parked taxi below, which then explodes. They like violence is what we're saying.
You don't have to rewind evolution many generations to find a time when stabbing something with a spear was all in a day's work. Today, buried in the reptilian part of the brain is that drive to survive, recalling that time when surviving often meant to kill or be killed. So, we sit in our cubicles all day and release that urge via harmless movies and video games and the sight of nameless bad guys getting mowed down.
But there's a larger reason that zombies are today's most popular target for therapeutic head-splosions. The role of "bad guy" isn't so easy to fill these days. It used to be there was always some ethnic group or nationality Hollywood could populate action movies with; if you grew up in the 80s, it was the Russians (Red Dawn, etc), before that, the Nazis or Japanese, before that, the "Indians."
There were Native American heroes, but somehow that was even worse.
More recently, it's Arab terrorists. But we're running out of villians. You can't fill your video game with Chinese enemies; hell, they may need to sell copies of the game there. The video game industry has had us killing Nazis for a decade, because they couldn't think of anybody else it was politically correct to slaughter in huge numbers.
And that's where zombies come in.
All that morality stuff is set aside. Killing them is OK because they're already dead. They don't even scream in pain, or show any sense of self-preservation. They seem to want to die. You get all the blood and gore and none of the complications.
And maybe more important than that, they're slow. And unarmed. There's no real threat. Sure, the movies always say the zombies have taken over the world, but come on. Every single male in that audience believes that, if they were in that world, they'd survive, no problem.
It's a playground of destruction with no repercussions. A violent video game turned into real life. Lots of targets, no real danger. Hell on Earth, but somehow pure fun.
"Of course there's free stuff," some of you are saying. "Free dirt, blood, zombies and broken glass. But when society collapses, nobody is going to produce anything any more! Say goodbye to electricity, plumbing, TV, new music and 90 percent of what you currently do for fun."
The joke's on you, Zombie Apocalypse.
This is exactly what a rational person might think. Au contraire for zombie survivalists. They figure the loss of those inconveniences will be minor in what is sure to be an action-packed world full of zombie beheadings. Besides, the basics would still be there. What zombie movie ever portrays the heroes as starving?
And that gets right to the heart of it. What do you devote your waking life to right now? Curing cancer? Killing terrorists? No, odds are you're devoting all your time and energy to just paying the bills. Those Cheerios don't just appear in the cupboard, we slave away at a hated job to keep our bodies fed and the lights on for the fun parts, with no grand goal beyond that.
But when society collapses under all the zombie dead weight, it's all over. But not over like a nuclear holocaust, where all the warehouses and grocery stores lay in ruins. No, all the stuff is perfectly intact. All manner of stores and malls and mansions will be ripe for the picking. In a world where only a tiny fraction of the population remains, there'd have to be enough food and clothes in the supply chain to feed you and your friends for the rest of your zombie-killing lives.
Which means you don't have to spend all day grinding away in front of a keyboard just to keep food in the fridge. All that is swept aside. Killing zombies is your job now. And you won't be getting any damned memos about a dress code.
Your purpose in life is perfectly clear. It couldn't be simpler. Which brings us to the next benefit...
We mentioned that we miss the violence of the "killing animals with rocks" stage of our evolution, but there's something else we haven't quite gotten over: Life was simpler back then. As a result, we're still really built for a routine of gathering food, protecting our huts from predators and having outdoor sex with the ladies.
Captain Caveman: A profound symbol of man's innate evolutionary struggles.
There's a reason all this modern multitasking has half of us swallowing anti-depressants or washing away our pain with bottle after bottle of liquor. An apocalypse of zombie proportions would be a throwback to that simpler time... but with one important difference mentioned above: You're not in constant danger of starving.
There's tons of places to barricade, lots of items for creating weapons and plenty of zombies to slaughter. And that's it; those are your tasks for the day. Get sustenance, find shelter and slaughter zombies.
No homework, no term papers, no job search, no internship, no cubicle, no bills to pay. There will no longer be mail of any sort; paper or electronic. Identity theft will only happen if you die and come back as a zombie.
We think of teenagers as living and breathing texts and Facebook and Twitter, but it still buries them under the kind of rapid-fire multitasking humans just aren't built for. Even building up a bunch of shows you can't get around to watching on TiVO creates a kind of stress.
You get overwhelmed by how quickly everything stacks up. Answering 75 texts a day, responding to Facebook pokes, memorizing memes so you don't get shamefully laughed out of 4chan... all that nonsense is gone the moment the undead rise. Nobody can text with their fingers bitten off.