We Need To Talk About The Zombies
Why We Need To Pay More Attention To Our Modern-Day Monsters
Once upon a time it was suggested to me by one of my favourite professors that I turn my theory of zombies into a thesis, or perhaps even a book. Years later, I scribbled down some notes on my personal blog, and now (even more years later, after a recent lunchtime conversation with a co-worker) I’ve decided to re-post these thoughts here as well.
It is well-established that monsters have traditionally served us as metaphors for societal fears. Famous examples are of vampires (sexual repression), Frankenstein’s monster (science and technology), kaiju such as Godzilla (the danger of nuclear proliferation), and that’s not even getting started on the ancient monsters (ie. from Greek mythology*, or Beowulf, for example, I’m sure that what those represent must be interesting to examine in more detail).
One monster, the zombie, has undergone much transformation over the course of the last century. The most radical change was ushered in by George Romero in his seminal movie Night of the Living Dead, and occurred significantly close to the dawn of the postmodern era. Some have claimed that the postmodern zombie represents capitalist consumerism, though I find that a bit of a stretch even though it certainly fits what I would consider to be a potential category of zombieism**. But first, however, let’s try to clarify what postmodernism actually is.
What is postmodernism?
Postmodernism, as I would summarize it, is defined by the awareness of the meta-narrative or ideology as the “operating system” of the individual which forms the basis of the subjective interpretation of reality and directs rationale and logic. Postmodern awareness emerged from the glaring failures of modernism’s “isms”, the utopian narratives that resulted in such tragic movements as nazism, communism, and futurism’s relegation of metered, rhyming poetry to the naughty corner. The wikipedia summary is neat as always:
While encompassing a disparate variety of approaches, postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection toward the meta-narratives and ideologies of modernism, and often calls…