Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Movies

Zombies As American Zeitgeist Proxies 263

Posted by kdawson
from the look-what-plan-9-started dept.
blackbearnh writes "No doubt, there will be more than a few brain-munching glassy-eyed zombies showing up on the typical doorstep tonight, demanding brains, brains, brains, or at least some Milk Duds. But according to this essay over on Forbes.com, zombies are more than just the trendy monster on the block, they are to Americans what Godzilla is to Japanese: a personification of our fear of science and technology. 'It seems you can't throw a half-eaten cerebrum these days without hitting a posse of zombies brought to life by some kind of biological mishap (28 Days Later, Resident Evil, Planet Terror, Quarantine). Like Godzilla, zombies keep up with the times, always ready to mirror whatever aspect of science and technology people feel most uncertain about at the moment.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Zombies As American Zeitgeist Proxies

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:12PM (#29937417)

    This entry belongs in Idle, which incidentally is perused exclusively by zombies.

  • umm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:12PM (#29937423)

    I'm pretty sure that in Dawn of the Dead, Romero wasn't trying to convey a fear of new technology, but rather a disdain for commercialism.... the bulk of that movie took place in a shopping mall, fer cryin' out loud!

    • by GaryOlson (737642)
      And you don't see shopping malls as a scary distorted implementation of technology? Hordes of mindless beings shambling from one location to another barely aware of their actions. And don't get me started on the employees in the food court; or the disturbed scientific experiments in nutrition.

      Shopping malls are NOT natural!
    • Have you ever seen Romero's batshit film Knightriders [imdb.com]? It was his first big studio film. It's about a traveling jousting troupe that rides motorcycles instead of horses. (It's also a fucking disaster of a movie -- watch The Crazies if you want more good early Romero.)

      Anyway, these biker-jousters live noble lives, going from town to town to perform these great honorable jousting acts. And what are their audiences like? Brainless, artless, drunken idiots; people who live with no purpose, no ethics, and n

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:14PM (#29937433)

    Both 28 Days Later and Resident Evil were made respectively by a UK director (in the UK), and by a UK company (FilmFour)....

    • by Colonel Sponsz (768423) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:32PM (#29937517)

      Both 28 Days Later and Resident Evil were made respectively by a UK director (in the UK), and by a UK company (FilmFour)....

      And "Quarantine" is a remake of a Spanish movie, [Rec] [imdb.com].

    • Hmm, I correct myself ; FilmFour just picked up the distribution rights for the UK.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by spymagician (1303515)

      Both 28 Days Later and Resident Evil were made respectively by a UK director (in the UK), and by a UK company (FilmFour)....

      Resident Evil (film) was based loosely on the Capcom (Japanese) videogame series Biohazard (Resident Evil in the US). The original games were intentional homages to classic zombie and "science-gone-awry" films and stories, although the latest installments have moved away from that somewhat.

    • To be fair, Resident Evil 'game' was out in 1996. It is not as if it is a bandwagon effort. The first RE movie came out around the time the 6th or 7th game was released. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_Evil_(video_game) [wikipedia.org]
    • But your example (and few by other posters) don't contest per se the idea that it is a phenomena with US origin (origin being the key word here)

      For example: Big Macs (and similar) are eaten and made throughout the world. Doesn't mean that they are no longer of US origin (and yes, the meals of that form might not be of US origin in reality, I don't know; but you get the idea...)

      Also, it would be usefull to look at the scale of things; I guess US leads in production of zombie films by a large margin.

  • by icebike (68054) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:16PM (#29937443)

    This seems a bit of a stretch, since Americans embrace Science and Technology readily.

    Seems more likely a personification of fear of death.

    However, I personally don't lend much credence to these mumbo-jumbo pseudo scientific explanations of things people do for the sheer fun of it. Some things don't have a deeper meaning.

    • So, we're afraid of the zombies, but at the same time, we kind of want to be one?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Threni (635302)

      Exactly. "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar", as a number of people, including Freud himself, are alleged to have said.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hibiki_r (649814)

      They do?

      Are you from that legendary coastal America? Because around here, people don't know that the word theory has two different meanings, and distrust anything that wasn't invented when they were in their 20s. Just today I saw a woman, probably in her 60s, step back from a touch screen, claiming that she didn't trust the machine.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by shog9 (154858)

        Just today I saw a woman, probably in her 60s, step back from a touch screen, claiming that she didn't trust the machine.

        Shucks... Still in my 20s, and I don't trust the machine. Sounds like a savvy old gal to me!

      • by GaryOlson (737642)
        She had the right reaction; but for all the wrong reasons. It's the megolithic uncaring corporation at the other end of the machine which she should fear.
    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:32PM (#29937525) Journal

      This seems a bit of a stretch, since Americans embrace Science and Technology readily.

      Almost all Americans are willing to embrace technology, but few really embrace science. In fact, a large number are overtly hostile to some branches of science (especially the biological sciences). The majority seems content to retain an ignorance of science in general, or perhaps fear that they are incapable of understanding it.

    • by lawpoop (604919)

      This seems a bit of a stretch, since Americans embrace Science and Technology readily.

      Well, that's sort of the point: people are ambivalent about it. Remember when cell phones were catching on, and so many people were like, "I'm never getting a cell phone!" "I saw a person in the grocery store today talking to their wife on a cell phone talking about what food to buy! What a waste." It's that way for all new technology. It's the whole fear of change thing.

      Seems more likely a personification of fear of death.

      However, I personally don't lend much credence to these mumbo-jumbo pseudo scientific explanations of things people do for the sheer fun of it. Some things don't have a deeper meaning.

      I agree with you about the 'fear of death' interpretation. To me, it's always an interesting question, "why is *this* popular and not *tha

      • do you think there might be discernible reasons why zombies and vampires get so much popular attention over, say, werewolves? Not that there's a meaning, per se, but reasons?

        Werewolves represent wildness and nature. Most Americans aren't threatened by anything from nature other than the occasional deer striking a car. It doesn't play on any current, underlying fears.

    • by khallow (566160)

      This seems a bit of a stretch, since Americans embrace Science and Technology readily.

      So, suppose I were to genetically engineer some corn or build a small nuclear plant. You think the neighbors wouldn't mind? My bet is that I'd catch a bit of NIMBYism (Not In My BackYard!) from most places in the US. If I talk of launching rockets (I used to belong to a non profit group that did some of that), then people would routinely ask "But isn't that dangerous?" People are very sensitized to risks of technology that they don't understand and which hasn't been prettied up for them (like an iPod with i

      • by icebike (68054) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @07:45PM (#29937899)

        People are very sensitized to risks of technology that they don't understand

        Defined sensitized.

        We jump in cars and elevators without a thought, we yak on cell phones and play on computers, we plug things into electrical outlets without a care, buy game consoles, and generally adopt new technology readily, be they gadgets, GPSs, phones, emission controls, electric vehicles or solar power.

        Sensitization to risks, to the extent it exists, is not driven by Joe User, but rather by the fear mongering groups opposed to something and their press lapdogs.

        30 years of Nuclear fears generated by hype from green movement groups is now seen by those same groups as having been a huge tactical mistake. But it will take 20 years to undo the fear, with the coal plants running full tilt in the meantime.

        Americans have great faith in Science, largely justified.

        But, beginning in the 60s this believe has been progressively poisoned by years of attempts to ban/reduce everything from peanuts to salt to coffee to aspirin to sugar, potatoes, wheat, and rock and roll. The stories of lake Eire being permanently a dead lake, of imminent death due to any number natural disasters largely foisted by pseudo-scientists with a political ax to grind has taken its toll. Always the FUD before the FACTS, the Fear before the Data, the Restrictions before the Research.

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @08:03PM (#29937975)

      There have been some interesting major shifts in what gets made into horror movies, (and books, radio, or TV horror)

      For one, for about 20 years just before the stage production of Dracula took off, Mummies were really big, with dozens of stories in horror magazines and such each year. Vampires were practically unknown. A lot of things Stoker originated just sort of collectively jumped into people's minds after that - Vampires took on distinctive fictional features such as not crossing running water, or turning into mists or bats, for the first time. Within a decade, just about anyone you polled had heard of them, and most thought that Stoker's additions to the legends were centuries old parts of the original legends instead.
            Zombies did something similar. There were a few films with voodoo style zombies, animated by a Hougan (usually called a witch doctor). There were lots of references to New orleans style Voodoo (Fewer to Haiti or African roots of vodou), and a whole lot of superficial references to Vodou beliefs and practices. If one of those zombies killed somebody, it probably slowly shambled over to the victim as a witch doctor directed it, and crushed or strangled the victim. Night of the Living Dead rebuilt the zombie, giving them an appetite, which soon became focused on brains. Now, I suspect if you surveyed a lot of people, most of them know of the Zombies - Brains connection, but most of those think it's something from original myths and legends, not George Romero.
            Alien Invaders and Atomic Mutants caught on in the 50's, but there was a more general common trend, to horror that didn't involve the supernatural. Hundreds of thousands of people who had never heard of or read H. P. Lovecraft seem to have found themselves agreeing with his arguments from 20 years before about horror without religious overtones.
            When people suddenly shift positions to a new focus, in vast numbers, and they don't know where the new idea comes from and instead talk as though the idea has always been around, that's why psychologists think there are deeper meanings. A huge shift in what is sometimes called the zeitgist happens, AND many people in the middle of the shift claim things haven't changed, attribute new ideas to fictitious or ancient sources, and often, deny vehemently that they themselves have changed their opinions in the slightest. A hundred million adult people read a series of books about a boy wizard written for young readers, when five years before they would have had no interest in such things and the idea of such a series making the author the richest author ever would have sounded totally absurd to them.
            If there's no deeper meaning behind such shifts, maybe there's also no 'deeper meaning' behind election landslides, stock market crashes, or political witch hunt movements either. Maybe such things just happen, with no underlying causes. That, if you really follow the train of thought to its logical end, is scarier than real zombies.
       

      • by icebike (68054)

        I don't think it takes any thing that cerebral to cause a shift.

        One Vampire story that becomes successful begets another.

        Don't mistake clever marketing ploys for something everybody wants. Its just what is temporarily in vogue. Hollywood types know how to make just about anything appeal to any selected audiance.

        The current trend is vampire story meant to appeal to tweens and teen girls. They seem all the rage, but they are all just the "Bad boy attraction" revisited.

        Then there is the current focus on swo

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Zak3056 (69287)

        Now, I suspect if you surveyed a lot of people, most of them know of the Zombies - Brains connection, but most of those think it's something from original myths and legends, not George Romero.

        IIRC, both they, and you, would be wrong. :) The "Brains" connection comes not from Romero's zombie movies, but from the "Return of the Living Dead" series, which is unrelated.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Fear of death? Personally, I would much prefer to be undead than dead ;p

    • by G-Man (79561)

      I would argue zombies stand in for a fear of general societal breakdown, with our friends and neighbors becoming the "other". Amongst all the movie bogeymen (vampires, Frankenstein, mummies), only zombies bring with them the overall collapse of civilization.

  • Just like how people's love of Star Trek led geeky engineers to develop the real cell phones we have today, some researchers must be working on development of a real zombie virus to use as a military weapon. We've seen this theme in movies several times. If it's at all possible, it will happen sooner or later.
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Gay Bomb. [marksimpson.com] They say it's been discontinued, oh my yes. The world would never tolerate the use of such a weapon. They get all bent out of shape and use mean words like "Atrocities" and "War Crimes", so the project was... discontinued... So the next time two guys from Al Quida are sitting outside a cave in Pakistan and their... eyes meet... the urges that they feel are completely natural.

      Hell with zombies. I know how to tell a scary story.

      • Re:Nope (Score:5, Funny)

        by zblack_eagle (971870) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:48PM (#29937609)

        So we'll end up with a Big Gay Al Qaeda?

        Super.

        • My favorite thing about the /. moderation system is that it sometimes results in comments like these standing alone and totally without context.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Gay Bomb. [marksimpson.com] They say it's been discontinued, oh my yes. The world would never tolerate the use of such a weapon. They get all bent out of shape and use mean words like "Atrocities" and "War Crimes", so the project was... discontinued... So the next time two guys from Al Quida are sitting outside a cave in Pakistan and their... eyes meet... the urges that they feel are completely natural.

        Those students weren't laughing at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because of Iran's present census, but because they knew that after 2011, Iran's population growth will turn solidly negative. By 2025, all of Iran will have moved to San Fransisco.

    • by Valdrax (32670)

      Just like how people's love of Star Trek led geeky engineers to develop the real cell phones we have today, some researchers must be working on development of a real zombie virus to use as a military weapon. We've seen this theme in movies several times. If it's at all possible, it will happen sooner or later.

      Except that cellphones are useful and biological weapons are incredibly stupid. Unlike radioactive or chemical weapons, highly contagious biological weapons are the only ones that guarantee an enemy's ability to retaliate in kind and that guarantee that allies and neutral parties will be harmed. Creating a zombie plague would is the kind of thing that only a total misanthrope out to destroy civilization would try -- not a military organization or even a terrorist group.

  • Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turing_m (1030530) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:19PM (#29937459)

    ... you just needed a convenient enemy for an FPS? Something in the uncanny valley that is human-like but not quite human that the average person will feel compelled to blow away?

    So now you've decided on zombies, you've got to figure out how they were created so the plot makes sense. Supernatural, or science. If science, pick from alien technology, radiation, biological means, or something a bit more wacky - other dimension, your large Hadron collider malfunctions, I don't know.

    There are only so many explanations the public will buy to sate their desire to blow away not-quite-human things. You have to pick one.

  • Fear of Tech? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lyinhart (1352173) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:21PM (#29937475)
    Of all the examples he could have chosen, he chose zombies? In most films, if there is an explanation for their existence of the zombies in the film, it's usual mystical or related to disease or something (as the writer cedes). But the writer had better examples he could have chosen. Like the "evil computer" - e.g. Hal 9000 from 2001, or Skynet from the Terminator films.
    • Even robots aren't quintessentially part of the american zeitgeist. I think our gig is probably space aliens. I'm not sure what they represent, though. Also, I feel a little dirty for using the words 'quintessentially' and 'zeitgeist', probably incorrectly, too.

    • Re:Fear of Tech? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @08:02PM (#29937971) Homepage Journal

      OK, I'm an engineer, but I've had the *rudiments* of a liberal education, and *I* can see that the idea that zombies represent fear of technology *per se* is weak.

      No.

      What zombies represent are fear of the economic and cultural changes which are facilitated by technology. Depersonalization. How far is it from a cubical drone to a zombie? Pretty much add the taste for human brain and you're there. Take something like a MacDonald's restaurant -- not to pick on them, but all franchises are the same. A franchise is a complicated economic relationship in which the individual store, although possibly independently owned, has everything defined by corporate HQ (in this case MacDonald's HQ). The franchisee has a detailed manual which specifies how to *everything*, how to respond to any kind of situation that might arise. In fact, it doesn't just *say* how. It *mandates*. It is a big collection of algorithms. And every one of those algorithms is executed by *people*, not based on their own judgment, but triggered by the conditions specified in the manual.

      So what zombies represent is not a fear of technology, but a fear of *becoming* technology.

      • by Valdrax (32670)

        I think that's a remarkably clever analogy, but most zombie films aren't about people mechanically going through the dull motions of modern corporate wage-dronehood. They're about people who have lost all sanity and grasp of the rule of law. Zombie horror is really about the collapse of society -- both in the animalistic zombies and in the traumatized survivors.

        However, I think a zombie film based on your analogy would be a great parody. I mean, how would you know the difference? I think "Shaun of the D

    • by cas2000 (148703)

      Skynet was an "evil computer", but HAL wasn't. HAL just had conflicting programming that resulted in him killing anyone he perceived as threatening the secret mission.

    • Of all the examples he could have chosen, he chose zombies? In most films, if there is an explanation for their existence of the zombies in the film, it's usual mystical or related to disease or something (as the writer cedes).

      Mystical elements were big in early films featuring zombies, but "Night of the Living Dead" has thrust the zombie apocalypse genre firmly into the sci-fi horror camp ever since. You generally don't see masses of zombie hordes bringing an end to civilization in mystical zombie films because that kind of zombie is rarely self-propogating, and a true zombie apocalypse requires that.

      Ever since "Night of the Living Dead," the causes of zombie horror have mostly been either due to scientific experiments gone wro

    • Or Karn Evil 9...
  • Oh, FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:31PM (#29937513) Homepage Journal

    Zombies are fun. They're fun for costumes, they're fun as horror movie bad guys, they're fun to blow away in video games.

    Pirates and ninjas and vampires are fun, too, but they've been overexposed. Zombies are about to go the same way, I suspect, and they'll drop off the cultural radar screen for a while. Then they'll come back (they always come back ...) after people have gone through a few more cycles of archetype-of-the-week.

    That's really all the explanation needed. Trying to read some deep cultural significance into what monsters are popular at the moment is almost always a fool's game. Even Godzilla very quickly outgrew its origins as a nuclear metaphor, and just became a fun monster.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ruiner13 (527499)

      Then they'll come back (they always come back ...)

      that's because you didn't shoot them in the head! Double-tap, man!

  • the real reason we have zombies everywhere is political correctness. it's a lot safer for game makers to use pretend antagonists than human beings. if a game has you shooting human beings, somebody's going to complain; monsters or robots are much less likely to offend the hyper-sensitive thought-police tipper gores of the world.

    • Which is almost odd because typically zombies ARE humans that had something done to them. Robots, aliens, or monsters that aren't human at some point would be easier to push past the radar (at least I would think so).
      • by vadim_t (324782)

        Why odd?

        Zombies are moving corpses that aren't interested in anything besides your brains. You can't talk to them, convince of the errors of their ways, or let them be. You can't make them normal again. They're the perfect target to mindlessly slaughter with no regrets.

        Robots, aliens and even monsters are very often humanized. They often have human level intelligence, and some sort of motivation. It takes a lot more effort to come up with a reason to kill something sentient. If you don't do it right people

  • Dammit! (Score:3, Funny)

    by LMacG (118321) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:57PM (#29937671) Journal

    There were NO zombies in 28 Days Later.

      . . . pets peeve, tries to calm down, wonder why he brought his goat anyway . . .

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Valdrax (32670)

      There were NO zombies in 28 Days Later.

      . . . pets peeve, tries to calm down, wonder why he brought his goat anyway . . .

      Okay, then, what's the functional difference? People are infected with a plague via biting (or any other blood exchange) that robs them of their humanity and turns them into cannibals doomed to eventually collapse when their food supply runs out. The plague also makes them extremely dangerous and hard to kill. Society falls apart due to the plague and the remaining uninfected throw out conventional morality in a bid for survival. There's military quarantine, there's impotent scientists, and there's all

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 31, 2009 @07:26PM (#29937799)

    If anything, I think zombies symbolize a breakdown of technological society, and the survivalist chaos that would arise in its absence. Most popular zombie movies feature the complete or near destruction of human civilization by the zombie horde. The humans then spend the movie scrounging for weapons, food, shelter, etc, and other humans generally pose at least as great a threat to them as the zombies do. The zombie apocalypse is fundamentally a survivalist fantasy, in which those with guns make the rules and there is an unlimited supply of enemy targets that are only dangerous in numbers, easily fooled, and which can be shot to pieces without ruffling any ethical feathers. In short, a survivalist paradise. This is what appeals to the (probably mostly male) audience. Men are built for violent competition in an environment with no technology and competing, relatively small groups of people, and by largely removing technology from the picture, zombies put us in exactly that situation.

  • ...zombies brought to life by some kind of biological mishap...

    Or a simple: if (0 fork()) exit(0);

    • Make that: if (0 < fork()) exit(0);
      (Damn HTML coding. See what happens when you forget to "Preview" - sigh.)
  • I would argue that zombies are nothing related to a fear, but rather the geek's hope for a post-apocalyptic world where they can go back to the basics.

    No more 9-5 jobs.
    No more waiting for the release of the next piece of entertainment.
    No more races for popularity, money, and possessions.

    A simple fight for survival where those who are still alive are considered the successful, the happy, and the free.

    • by Valdrax (32670)

      I would argue that zombies are nothing related to a fear, but rather the geek's hope for a post-apocalyptic world where they can go back to the basics.

      Dunno 'bout you, but most of the survivalist nuts that I know that would welcome a zombie apocalypse fall more into the "jock" than "nerd" stereotype. Personally, I like my air conditioning, indoor plumbing, and internet access which all rely on a stable society. I also like the prospect of seeing how society will advance, which is pretty much all over when the hordes start ravening.

  • Frankenstein? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro.gmail@com> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @07:34PM (#29937829) Homepage Journal

    according to this essay over on Forbes.com, zombies are more than just the trendy monster on the block, they are to Americans what Godzilla is to Japanese: a personification of our fear of science and technology.

    I would have put that label upon Frankenstein. While perhaps not of American creation (are zombies?), Frankenstein is as well known as Mickey Mouse. And, as opposed to zombies, Frankenstein is, in every iteration, a creation of humanity; whereas Zombies can become as such thanks to any number of suddenly-unearthed virii.

    I would say, though, that zombies strike more fear because they are more unknown. In most versions, Frankenstein answers to someone or can be stopped by some repressed sense of humanity (or a woodchipper, whatever). Zombies, however, have a bloodlust that is rarely stopped short of a shotgun to the head.

    But that might be the reason for the popularity of zombies currently: they have a much more versatile origination scenario than does Frankenstein.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by blyloveranger (525451)

      Frankenstein is, in every iteration, a creation of humanity

      I agree whole-heartedly. You can only watch Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein do it so many times before you begin to think, "Enough already. I get it. Dr. Frankenstein was a creation of humanity. Now stop showing Dr. Frankstein's ugly-ass parents having sex and start showing Dr. Frankstein create the monster."

  • Let us celebrate obscurity: The Saragossa Manuscript [imdb.com].
    Or the equally excellent original: href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manuscript_Found_in_Saragossa [slashdot.org]
  • Heck, many if not most of them worship one. Not to mention the unspeakable things they've done in his name...

    http://www.zombiejesus.com/ [zombiejesus.com]

    • by Valdrax (32670)

      Hey, I remember the last time I heard of that movie. It was when I showed a group of friends this XKCD comic. [xkcd.com] It was the universal consensus of all who had seen "Zombie Jesus" that it fell well into the category of So Bad It's Horrible.

  • Profoundly Wrong (Score:2, Interesting)

    by benjamindees (441808)

    Zombies in no way personify a fear of science and technology. They personify a fear of the elderly. Every American I have ever known to be preoccupied with zombies is a young person. The monsters of elderly Americans' generations were King Kong (Blacks) and, before that, Dracula (Jews).

    Zombies are catatonic, un-dead creatures that forcibly feast on the brains of the living in the same way that elderly Americans forcibly rob younger generations of progress, instead co-opting the best and brightest to work

    • by Dunbal (464142)

      The monsters of elderly Americans' generations were King Kong (Blacks) and, before that, Dracula (Jews).

            I'm just wondering what Godzilla was supposed to be about, then...

  • What technologies are the focus in the original Night of the Living Dead [imdb.com]?

  • I think zombies reflect our empty commercial lives.

    We're skeptical of pretty much all systems of meaning, so we see ourselves as "half alive," merely cannibalizing on each other (pretty much.)

  • by V50 (248015) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @08:27PM (#29938105) Journal

    When I was in University, I once had some leftist student try to convince me that Batman was evil, using a Marxist analysis. That is, he's a rich man, who tries to keep the poor of Gotham down under his boot by going out at night, scaring beating the crap out of the proletariat for daring to stand up to him and his exploitive, capitalist parents.

    While rather amusing (I don't think he was fully serious, I hope), the truth is, you can see whatever as a metaphor/representation/whatever of anything you want, but at the end of the day, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Zombies are cool cause they eat people. That's my analysis.

    • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @01:41AM (#29939713)

      While rather amusing (I don't think he was fully serious, I hope), the truth is, you can see whatever as a metaphor/representation/whatever of anything you want, but at the end of the day, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

      Rather amusing? You're assuming that just because the crowd believes what it is instructed to believe, that it must be true. --Which always works out for the best. (Sarcasm)

      Actually, your leftist student was very close to the truth. Many of DC's Superheros are fixated on catching bank-robbers and otherwise protecting the established power structures and property wealth. --Unless you've noticed, the banks today are the villains in all the news stories, (unless, of course you happen to be a millionaire republican TV commentator, in which case it's the poor and ill-educated who are to blame). Given that the banks create the entire money supply out of thin air through fractional reserve lending and then have the gall to charge interest on top of that, (interest which is not actually possible to pay back as a society since the only supply of money is the bank system itself), the actual intent was always slavery and social control. It was by no means accidental. --And there's no argument I've heard yet (and I've heard a lot of them) which can logically defend the history of this system unless the argument out and out declares that people deserve to be treated like livestock and that the already-wealthy should be at the top of this sick food chain.

      If Bruce Wayne was such a genius, he would have taken out the elites instead of beating up on the poor and neglected, which setting aside the Joker, is exactly what he does. I put it down not to his being evil, but to his writers being naive child-men.

      Left or right, that's the truth of it. So yeah, a cigar may be just a cigar, except in this case, few seem to understand what a cigar actually is.

      Superman is an even bigger dummy. At least in Frank Miller's work, Batman was partially aware that the government was self-serving and untrustworthy.

      -FL

  • by cas2000 (148703) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @08:28PM (#29938109)

    i've always thought that the american fascination with zombies was because they combined a representation of the "mindless hordes of communism" with america's favourite paranoia about Fifth Column subversion of the American Way Of Life

    plus, of course, americans love the Lawless West mythology, that a single good man with a gun can save the day. add to that the survivalist wet-dream of A World Gone Mad and you have the perfect fantasy fuel for everyone, especially the RKBA nutters.

    (that said, i love a good zombie flick myself. or even a bad one)

    oh yeah, while i'm dissecting the american zeitgeist, i'll also mention that the american obsession with robots from the 1950s onwards is due to the white middle class desire to have an obedient slave race that won't revolt....indeed, CAN'T revolt due to Asimov's Three Laws being built-in. robots are proxy black slaves with all the uppitiness removed.

  • That the antagonists in horror movies are often allegorical representations of the creators' fears is hardly a shocking observation.

    That zombies as a metaphor represent fear of technology seems wrong. Technology has largely replaced the supernatural as the favored MacGuffin in realistic fiction, horror included, simply because it's a more believable way to accomplish incredible things. Likewise, when our story-time villains mostly used magic, exploring our fears about magic was rarely the point of the story

  • Superhero origins are far more representative, actually. Consider: Spiderman and the Hulk both get their powers from radiation in the 60s, and from genetic engineering in their more recent movie versions.
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @01:10AM (#29939575)

    Along with nuclear waste and mysterious space-borne radiation, pandemic plagues have also spawned zombies. This zombie type has become the dominant movie form over the last few decades, no doubt a reaction to AIDS, Ebola, cloning, genetically modified foods and the remainder of the brave new world of biotechnology.

    I have to take a moment to totally disagree with this assessment. --As many have already pointed out, bio-tech gone wrong (or whatever) is just the McGuffin used to get the story rolling. You can't have zombies without some sort of half-baked explanation at the outset. Nobody cares what it is really, so long as it isn't entirely implausible. In this case, the monster is definitely the Thing, (Ha Ha. Pun intended.), and the reason we are, as a culture, so fascinated with Zombies is based on, as per usual, the rumbling proto-awareness bubbling up from our subconscious. --Because we can't quite get a fix on the source of threat with our conscious awareness, the Deep parts of ourselves step in, conjuring up images for us to contemplate until we figure out the enormous stress vector we've thus far failed to recognize in the world around us, but which is trying its damnedest to consume us.

    And if you'll notice, there is another trend in film and television which is closely related to Zombies. . .

    Dollhouse (Programmable people.)
    Terminator Salvation (Programmable robot people which think they're real.)
    Moon (Programmable clone people.)
    Surrogates (Remote controlled robot people.)
    Gamer (Remote controlled real people.)
    Avatar (Remote controlled alien people.)

    I'd also add a few others such as. . ,
    Dexter (Dangerous fake people who don't think like us.)
    V (People which look like us but are really noxious alien lizards.)

    See the trend? I sure do. Everything looks peaceful, but our cultural subconscious is screaming.

    All in all, plain old Zombies are far less disturbing because they're mindless. The idea of somebody else controlling zombies raises the skill level beyond simple shotgun solutions. I'd wager that the reason our world is such a mess is precisely because we've utterly failed to deal properly with the problem of fake evil people, and worse, the fact that regular folks are so very easy to turn into fake evil people. This is upsetting, and it's the reason, I think, behind the whole Zombie thing.

    -FL

Luck, that's when preparation and opportunity meet. -- P.E. Trudeau

Working...