Thursday, April 4, 2013

Zombies: No Monster More Malleable

Welcome to Part Four of


 a "newspaper article published in the Edgemont Daily Register"
(an excerpt from):

Killer Fun with a Serious Side of Braaaainz!!!

Team Daryl! Or "Aren't Zombies Supposed to Scare the Living hell out of Us?

Modern Magic and Science in our Popular Zombie Culture

No Monster More Malleable

Without a strict lore to define and restrict the zombie monster (unlike so many other monsters familiar in our literature), the undead can be whatever we want them to be, rise however we envision them rising and at a time we see fit, behave in manners consistent with our current world view of ourselves. To gain insight into a society’s psyche, one need look no farther than its zombie literature. This was true when the first “zombie vampires” were envisioned in China, and it’s true now.

Even Seth Grahame-Smith’s modern pastiche of Jane Austen’s Gothic classic, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, tells us a lot about ourselves in the early twenty-first century and the depths to which our cultural anxieties, and our denials, have reached. Although the story is set in Regency-era England, his characters are as relevant to us as they would have been then, if they were real: they are, remarkably it seems at first, not as terrified by the idea of a zombie apocalypse as we would think they should be; rather, they deal with the undead scourge with a strange sense of detachment. This suddenly makes when we consider that Austen’s aristocracy was beset by privileged excesses. The rich and privileged strived to remain as unaffected by the broader issues of the day as possible — war, riots, poverty — and thus seemed wholly out of touch with reality. For Darcy and Elizabeth, zombies were little more than plebian nuisances to be held at arm’s length. They represented the peasantry.

Grahame-Smith shows us how similar these attitudes are with our own aristocracy.

We laugh because we must

But for us, the commoners who cannot deny our terrifying global crises — financial, environmental, geopolitical, religious, socioeconomic — because we are impacted by them so personally and yet cannot envision a solution and end to them, we don’t have the luxury of remaining unaffected. We feel the impact of these problems so vitally. Is it any wonder that we have become so pessimistic, that our outlook on the world and our part in it has darkened so?

But rather than throwing our hands up in helpless frustration and quivering in our pajamas until we turn to mush, we deal with our fears, our monsters, by personifying them, rendering them into something a bit more manageable. Zombies are our metaphorical horde of fears: Famine, Frankencrops and Frankenviruses, Frankenweapons. Cancer-causing cell phone towers and mammograms. Vast identity-stealing computing networks boasting the latest, greatest near-artificial intelligence programming and the ability to monitor our every move, both on-line and in private.

It’s only appropriate that they should materialize in such a way, in our own image. We have seen the enemy, and — surprise, surprise — they are us. Zombies are, metaphorically, our horde of fears.

So we revel in slashing them into oblivion, as cheerfully as Darcy and Elizabeth do in the closing scenes of Grahame-Smith’s book, because it empowers us. As much as we can feel empowered, anyway.

And maybe this is why we seek each other out, our zombie fans and headhunters alike, so that we may commiserate in our helplessness together. Maybe this is why we laugh so heartily at that which terrifies us so. Why we bury ourselves in zombie books and movies. So that when we banish the monsters by turning the page, or shutting off the DVD player, or peeling off our faux-blood makeup, we can feel like we have some control.

Like we have banished the undead from our lives.

[[end of part 4]]

Part 5, coming tomorrow:  Where do we go from here?

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Infected: Hacked Files from the GAMELAND Archives is a companion book to the epic cyberpunk thriller horror series GAMELAND.

Available at all major ebook distributors

To read a sample and to find out where to get the first book for free,
visit Saul's website.

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