Zombie fascination

Zombie fascination

What is the bizarre fascination with zombies? In cities throughout the US and Canada, groups of people dress up as zombies and lurch about the streets. The most recent such parade was in San Francisco on Friday, but they’ve also had them here in Boston.

Why zombies? If it’s simply harmless fun, why the focus on the undead, and not just any undead, but also those that eat the flesh of the living. A few years it was vampires that were all the rage, probably from the popularity of both Anne Rice’s books as well as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”. So what accounts for the zombie fascination? Or just the whole undead fascination?

Perhaps it’s just the obvious: an outward manifestation of the culture of death. A society that condones the legalized slaughter of 48.5 million babies since 1973 is going to show the effects in manifold ways, not all of them obviously connected. Although the connection here may be more obvious. Of course, living in Salem maybe I see more of this dark side of the culture than other people do.

And maybe I’m just an old fogey, but from the looks of it a lot of these people are old enough to know better; they should act their age. These aren’t teenagers or even college kids. “Cut your hair and get a job, you darn whippersnappers!” Weirdos.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
9 comments
  • Maybe if you had actually READ the article you linked to, you could have answered your own question.  But no, you’ve got to go and project your own political and religious ideology on everything, regardless of whether it’s related or not.

    Try reading something other than the Bible.  It might improve your reading comprehension ability, which seems to be sorely lacking.

    Oh no!  A small group of people did something weird that I don’t approve of!  It must be the abortionists’ fault!  I’m glad to see the critical thinking skills (or lack thereof) that made your town (in)famous is alive and well.

  • I wonder if it’s appropriate to blame this fascination with the dead on the culture of death.  I don’t mean to say that there isn’t a culture of death in America, but isn’t a fascination with death common to most people?  For example, even in Catholic Mexico they celebrate the day of the dead, and I think there are similar celebrations in other cultures.  It just seems that in modern America, since most people don’t discuss death in religion anymore (at least not in more than a fuzzy sense), they might be seeking another understanding of it, albeit in a rather crude fashion.

  • Oh no, I’ve offended the slackers. Hey “Some Zombie”, I did read the article and I will bet without fear of contradiction that not only have I read more books than you, they are of a greater diversity than anything you’ve read.

    Be careful of criticizing other folks’ critical thinking when you fail to use it yourself. Reflexive descent into the “you’re just an old fundamentalist” accusation is exactly what you accuse me of doing.

    Nick: The Mexican Day of the Dead spectacle actually has its roots in Christian belief, namely the celebration of All Souls Day. But just because it has its roots there doesn’t make all aspects of the way it is celebrated compatible with Christianity. Halloween is rooted in the same Christian holy day; it’s just that in my opinion the Day of the Dead has not wandered so far into secularity.

    I think Day of the Dead has much more in common with the medieval scholastics’ keeping a skull on their desks along with the motto “memento mori” (remember death). It may seem ghoulish to our modern eyes, but it’s not a celebration of death. The zombie stuff is not in the same league, surface appearances to the contrary.

  • Well, post-Romero, I would say the “horror” of these films actually reflects (unconsciously?)the fear of a resurrection of the body, but not of the soul. And Romero’s films in particular were quick to point out that in post-60s America, the line between the living and the “souless” was a thin one. To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the zombies and they is us.

    So, on the surface, maybe these zombie walks are just cosplay in the name of charity, but underneath, there just might be some subconscious recognition of a dearth of soul in the world right now.

  • I have another theory—not that I completely disagree with Dom’s Culture of Death one, but I’m not sure enough people recognize the Culture of Death to fear it, even sunconsciously.  So my theory is that zombie love is a reaction to living in a world where we try very, very hard to deny death.  How much energy do we devote to extending life, to maintaining youthful levels of vigor well into old age, to denying aging itself by having oodles of plastic surgery done?  But at the same time, we know that death comes, always.  So we’re caught between these two facts—Botox and Death—and the combination of the two, as conceived of by a confused brain, is zombies and a fascination therewith.

    On a lighter note, many, many of my family gatherings have devolved into planning sessions for what we’ll do when the zombies attack.  Yes, one of my brothers is obsessed with the Dawn of the Dead trilogy.

  • It really has to do with a culture devoid of true religion, finding substitutes in superstition adn myth. 

    In terms of folk culture roots, zombies and vampires are really the same.  It is just the modern popular culture that has separated them.  In either case, though, the modern fascination has to do with a culture devoid of true religion substituting a sham “hope.”

    Remember that, for those who are really “into” this stuff, this isn’t *about* fear.  What Anne Rice, Joss Whedon and other writers since the late 80s have done is create a fascinatino with the “undead’ as an “alternative” to christianity.

    Vampires are depicted as an alternative lifestyle unjustly oppressed by Christians.  Even when they’re depicted as monsters, the efficacy of Christ to overpower them is downplayed in favor of garlic and stakes through the heart.  Some movies even depict the vampires as “good guys” fighting white European Christian bigots. 

    In either case, they are used as the alternative hope of resurrection for these people, a resurrection based upon self-gratification.

  • It has nothing to do with a fascination with death or even zombies – zero. It has to do with having a sense of humor. We take to the streets on various occasions in SF just for fun – there’s Santarchy Day (people parade dressed as Santa Clauses – and yes, some double the fun by dressing as zombie Santas) and on the Brides of March, everyone (men and women) dresses as a bride and prances around the city. Why? Because its fun…and whitty. Figure it out – I’ll give you a hint – think Shakespeare.

    If can’t laugh at these sorts of events, I won’t both trying to explain PeeWee Herman Day…

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