They’re getting to be the most played out pop culture trope of the last 50 years, but we still can’t seem to get enough of zombies. Like vampires and werewolves, kids love ’em, teens (really) love ’em, adults love ’em. Millions of dollars are made every year on zombie movies, books, TV shows, costumes, etc. This hasn’t changed much since I was a kid. What has changed is how zombies are now a valid marketing angle for everything from ammunition to running supplies.
What’s going on here? Is it all just a big joke or are we subconsciously desensitizing ourselves for our grim, violent post-collapse future?
The father of the modern zombie spectacle, George A. Romero, was on to something when he used the zombie as a way of criticizing the social unrest of the 1960s. Later, he tweaked his own formula and had his zombies throw our obsessive consumerism back in our face. Not everybody was hip to the subtle commentary going on here. Even today, there are those blissfully naive consumers who think zombies are just another kind of scary monster. But after a lifetime of consuming zombie books and films, I can tell you this: the zombie message has never been louder or clearer. Zombies are ourselves – our neighbors, family, and friends – in a post-collapse society.
The survivors, who are exceptionally skilled or incredibly lucky (or both), always band together and struggle to avoid contact with the “undead”. The metaphor is obvious: zombies are people who failed to prepare and are now looking for a handout (or more). They grunt and shamble along with nary a thought in their oozing heads. If they get close enough to bite, they have the power to bring you down to their sub-human level.
In just the past decade, prepping has gone from the domain of a certain whacky and secretive subculture to the stuff of totally mainstream prime time “infotainment”. Even our government is getting in on the fad. I see prepping and zombies as two complimentary things; one is used to explain/justify/laugh off the other. We joke about zombies while we secretly stockpile canned food and shotgun shells.
So get used to the flood of zombie stuff. It may be starting to get old but, hey, at least you don’t hear about pirates – or worse: ninjas – anymore!