#3. The Left Fears Zombies Because They're Mindless Consumers ...
In the wake of the debt ceiling crisis, left wing commentator Thom Hartmann warned that Tea Party zombies are loose in Washington and that their secret mission is to raze America to the ground and create a "second great depression," because that totally makes sense, at least if you're a Saturday morning cartoon villain.
Leftist New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls conservative economic theories zombie economics.
Via Something Awful
We're going ahead and calling them "Zombinomics."
Someone else took the time to produce a Doom clone flash game in which you grab a shotgun and march through a trailer park, picking off shambling undead rednecks, climate skeptics and Fox News personalities. When someone from the left sees this:
... what they really fear is this:
If we know our protesters, these two groups smell pretty much the same.
It's a belief that conservatives are a mindless, stupid mass, just aimlessly ambling forward and devouring everything in their path.
The current incarnation of the zombie was given to us almost single-handedly by George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead and its sequels. Specifically, it's the second movie in the series, Dawn of the Dead, in which Romero decided his blood-and-guts horror movie was going to double as a metaphor for mindless, mass consumerism (it's set in a shopping mall, a setting that was borrowed for Dead Rising).
Man, liberals have really bad tunnel vision. The zombie hoard is right there!
Unlike the minority vampires, zombies are always the majority. You've never seen a movie in which a group of survivors battle one or two zombies. An essential part of the whole trope is that the dead quickly outnumber the living. They're everywhere, and all they do is consume -- they have no other mission but a massive human-brain shopping spree.
In more recent incarnations, the culprit is explicitly some giant, evil corporation that unwittingly turns the world into zombies through its products -- the Resident Evil series has zombies unleashed by a transnational pharmaceutical corporation, in 28 Days Later, it's some company's evil animal testing division that brings about the zombageddon.
And then the rage infected monkeys are released. Thanks, PETA.
And to really drive the point home, the survivors who barricade themselves in the mall in Romero's movie immediately fall victim to the allures of capitalism. They greedily loot the place, and in one telling scene, the once hardass strong-female character, Fran, is seen pampering herself with perfume and lipstick in front of the mirror, and in the next scene, is shown cooking for the men. At one point, one of the characters looks upon the zombie horde and laments, "They're us." Yeah we get it George.
"Also maybe they want to kill us or something."
Conservatives will say this is a sign of elitism in the left, that they see themselves as the last thinking, enlightened surrounded by a brainless horde.
#2. ... They're Here to Stamp Out All Non-Conformists ...
Part and parcel with the zombie concept is the zombie apocalypse. As World War Z author Max Brooks points out, "Other monsters may threaten individual humans, but the living dead threaten the entire human race ... Zombies are slate wipers." The only goal that zombies have, if they can be said to have a goal, is worldwide assimilation.
"We'll do without her though. She can keep that brain."
Ever wonder why the hell zombies don't just attack each other? In 28 Days Later (in which the "zombies" are actually still technically living people), that was actually a plot point. The zombies actually starve to death in the end, as it apparently never occurs to them that they can just feast on each other's flesh instead of trying to track down the remaining five or so uninfected humans. Turning everyone into a zombie is more important even than individual survival.
Sounds like someone needs to get some brains.
That means what they really despise are minorities, those straggling ragtag survivors who refuse to assimilate to zombie culture. Zombies, you see, are basically white people.
It's not just an American thing. In 1994, Irish band The Cranberries released a popular protest song against British imperialism. The title? "Zombie." But the fear of right-wing, white, American consumerist culture taking over the world is a large part of what the whole zombie thing is all about. It doesn't matter if you're black, white, Latin, Asian or Eskimo, the zombies will come, and soon you'll abandon your personality and individualism for the kind of living-dead non-culture that zombies represent.
"Save Money, Kill Efficiently."
When you're watching a movie about mindless zombies eating up the world, what you really fear, deep down, is your parents sitting in their recliners watching Idol. You're afraid of McDonald's and Wal-Mart and 7-11. You're afraid of Cosmo, Facebook and Justin Bieber. You're afraid that monolithic, capitalist, zombie corporations are coming into your homes and eating your brains.
"One more hour of Farmville and I will happily chew someone else's arm off."
#1. ... And Can't Think for Themselves.
Part of the threat that the right represents to the left is this mass adherence to conformity. When boiled down to the simplest stereotypes, conservatives are in uniform dark suits with red ties, liberals are hippies in wild, non-conformist tie die dresses. The association of conservatives with religion is part of that, what the left sees as blind, mindless patriotism is another.
Which do we shoot? Which do we shoot?
Consider that the core of Christianity is based upon the story of a man who rose from the dead and started converting people. Zombies represent the typical irreligious critique of the religious -- they suppress critical thinking, and they're viciously evangelical. They come to your door, and suddenly you're a drooling religioid.
"Can I interest you in the word of the Lord and the edibility of your face?"
But it goes beyond religion. Part of conservatism is a passionate adherence to stability and tradition. The zombie apocalypse is the ultimate vision of a perfectly stable society -- zombies never attempt social reform or try to shoehorn amendments into the constitution, they just shamble about, moaning and bumping into things.
That actually brings us full circle, with what these fears have in common. Specifically, that both zombies and vampires have the ability to turn our children, friends and people we love into one of them. And we'll be next.
You would have thought these guys would be all about health care reform.
That's the most terrifying concept of all, that this other point of view that we find so ridiculous and inhuman is somehow contagious, that if exposed to it we might be forced to see the world their way, whether we like it or not. And neither a vampire or a zombie can be cured -- once converted, you never go back. And that's why they must be destroyed.
Hell, maybe we owe Stephenie Meyer an apology. Maybe her sympathetic, sexy vampires are an attempt at no less than staving off Civil War II. All we need is for somebody to write a book about sexy zombies.
Via Randy Kashka
There's no such thing as a zombie love triangle when you can each have a limb!
S Peter Davis overanalyzes even more popular culture over at Three Minute Philosophy.
For more ways horror movies tell us about ourselves, check out 6 Popular Monsters Myths (That Prove Humanity Is Doomed). Or check out some beasts that we hope don't represent us, in The 5 Most Half-Assed Monsters in Movie History.