Zombies are still the shit at this moment (2013). And this is one aspect that is specifically interesting about them:
The power of dehuminization
When you write “the zombie”, you write about people who lost their humanity due to whatever reason, including infection by some virus.
- Is no longer human, but some undead creature
- Is a threat to you
- Has to be murdered / killed to end the threat
- Is hard to kill
- Has no real common-sense or sense of reasoning
- Can not be reasoned with
- Shows up in great numbers due to infection and the infectiousness of their [whatever]
What follows — to avert the zombie-threat — is a mass murder that includes, can include and justifies:
- Excessive violence including ripping (human) bodies apart, severing body parts, destroying the head/ the brain, throwing bombs, burning them while still moving and so on
- Murder without taking into regard the individual
- Stories that involve and justifies the use of cannibalism
- Stories that involves and justifies the mass-murder of individuals and humans
“It is only a genre”
Yay! Cannibalism and mass murder of dehumanized people
Let’s say I have this craving to write about people eating other people. Including the use of rituals of eating:
- Human brains
- The human heart
- Human limbs
- Human intestines
- Human genitals
- Human faces
And I like to write extensively about:
- Chopping off human body parts
- Smashing and blowing to pieces and mutulating human parts
What do they represent?
Like with rape-stories, to write stories about cannibals requires a specific mind. To disguise those cannibals as undead meat-robots and/or unhumans makes it easier to masque that the main premise of zombie-movies is still about people eating other people. And people shooting- and bashing out the brains of other people who are considered to be “murderous” and “unstoppable in any other way”.
So what longing does this kind of stories starring massive-human-eating-human flesh and unstoppable sub-human menaces satisfy? Crushing boundaries? Seeking for new levels of artistic freedom? Fantasizing over cannibalism and killing millions of people through the act of cannibalism and then killing the cannibals in the same levels of gore as the act of cannibalism itself?
What do they represent? Nuance? Choice? Other ways to solve a conflict but the use of excessive violence? An escape from daily life? An escape into a fantasy-world?
Matches with reality
The dehuminization that allows millions of “zombies” to be killed in stories and on screen, “because they are no longer human” is not really that far from how we deal with mass-murder in reality.
The politics are quite similar:
- The stripping away of human traits of “the other”
- The depiction of the “other” as a manece, as a faceless and mindless enemy, as something that needs to be destroyed completely, as something that will eventually invade and kill/convert you
- The way these two arguments are used to use excessive violence without any hesitation or restraint
When people with sociopath tendencies wield totalitarian power, the “zombies” are anyone not on their side and anyone void of real power. The ones who are made to believe those “zombies” exist and should be eliminated are usually we, the people. Soldiers fighting for their leaders.
Stories that dehumanize people
Stories that dehumanize people into faceless enemies help us to limit our view on the other, help us to believe that death or mutilation of that other — without any trial or right to be heard — can be considered the (only) proper kind of action for any human threat “they” might pose “against us”.
Unfortunately, reality itself shows how similar polarizing narratives are part of society. Do we really open our hearts for “the other”? Do we really consider them to be fully human? Fully worthy? Fully equal to ourselves?
Do we really consider “the other” as human beings?
The zombie-genre itself is just representing a specific part of what humans can come up with to obfuscate and justify the real things happening withing the story: right before your eyes.
The fact that the narrative of zombie-movies can get away with gratuitous murder and cannibalism, that it can make such stories into commercial successes, says something about the mallability of the human mind and how this can be used to derail it so you “accept” the things that would normally outrage or disgust you.
So here you have it: my general thoughts on zombies.