02 January, 2009

ZOMBIES kick Vampire ass!

Pro-feminist metaphor for daughters assuming own adult identity despite their fathers' inherent protectiveness and also about how fathers' dreams for their daughters are inherently subsumed by their daughters' own identities. From Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Once upon a time ago I think I posted something about vampires. This was a mistake only in that I did not respond to posting about vampires by also posting about zombies in proportion to the coolness that I find in each. Therefore there should have been at least 37 zombie posts to balance out that 1 vampire post. However, now I am deciding that I will assign each post now extra points for Hindsight so there should be about 3 posts total dealing with zombies until I forget about it. At the rate I post, you can expect the next post in about 4 months (I will, however, try to do better with posting more regularly).

Before I start, let's have levity with this parody of Kelly's YouTube "Shoes" meme by the Living Dead Girlz (I want to know if they do birthdays):

1) Zombies are much cooler than vampires. Sure, vampires have fancy castles and tight vinyl bodysuits. And more recently they have annoying tween franchises and sexy HBO shows (warning: annoying Flash on both those last links). However, vampires are less fascinating than zombies because vampires are us, just with fangs and sun intolerance. Vampires still have families (covens?), vampires still have political struggles and human desires. Vampires also have very specific weaknesses (sun, wooden stakes, silver) just as humans have very specific weaknesses (water, bullets, piano flurries). Therefore, I posit that vampires represent a cerebral extrapolation of the human condition whereas zombies represent a base reduction of the animal instinct extant and inherent in human culture.

Zombies are walking hunger. And they're not just walking hunger, but they are exclusively hunger. Animals need water, food, sleep, and shelter from the elements. Zombies don't need food, and they do not even pursue water, sleep, or shelter unless there happens to be food (us!) inside. And zombies are terrifying, in part, because they consume and are motivated solely by the pursuit to consume human flesh. In effect, the zombies are not just consuming human flesh (cannibals can do so as well) but, because they themselves were once human, they are consuming humanity itself.

Vampires feed off of humans, zombies feed on humanity.

Zombies are pointless. They have no desires except for consuming human flesh. They have no organization (excepting Land of the Dead). They have no communication and we are left to infer from this that they have no emotion. They are the shells of humans devoid of everything that we feel makes us different from animals and therefore they hold a mirror to ourselves and our civilization, and this is largely the source of their accompanying terror. We envision ourselves as being purposeful, as being sentient and rationally separate from our base needs. We envision our civilization as being a progression from the animal state and an improvement thereupon. But zombies show us just how fragile those sentiments are and expose the deeply uncomfortable truth about just how tenuous our society is from day to day.

Furthermore, zombies are practically indestructible. In all the zombie lore, the only way to destroy a zombie is to crush its brain (tasteful Flash). Vampires can recover from such injuries if they are returned to the coffin of their original grave, but they'll also curdle if left out in the sun. Vampires are almost as fragile as humans, but zombies are much tougher. Humans do a lot to forget about or hedge their bets against their own corporal fragility. We wear seat belts and helmets and use oven mitts, etc. Zombies need none of it and perhaps this is viscerally felt by us humans as not just the consumption of humanity, but the willing abandonment thereof. And if that is so easy (just get bitten!), then what point is there to humanity?

Humankind is much more terrified by an black abyss than by a dark forest.

I was originally intending to discuss zombie biology but have gotten sidetracked. This post is already long, so I will wait for another post. I will try to get it up sooner than 3 months from now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi - one of your blogs has been selected to be in the Open Lab 2008 science blogging anthology (see http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2009/01/the_open_laboratory_2008_and_t.php), and we need to be able to contact you to get your permission to be included and to have your input into the editing process. Can't find a contact email for you, so could you email me, the editor of the book, at editorial(at)lablit.com ? If you need to maintain anonymity even with me, can you get one of your friends to contact me?