We like zombies… because we are zombies
Social scientist sees humanity in their glazed, undead eyes
We make zombies in our own image, says Durham University social scientist Dr Nick Pearce, and he reckons that the braindead machine-gun fodder zombies of today ain't a good sign.
Dr Pearce will present his paper Can Zombies help us understand today's society? to "The Festival of Social Science" on 2 November. He thinks we need to reassess the undead hordes... for our own self-esteem as much as anything else.
Zombies used to have a hope of beating the voodoo master
"Zombies are very now," Dr Pearce said, "but what’s really interesting and potentially worrying is how far today’s zombies – whether on TV, films or computer games – have departed from the original concept."
Zombies used to have a fighting chance back when they first staggered onto our screens in 1932 film White Zombie, he argues. Yes, they were the demoralised, undead slaves of voodoo priests, but they were slaves who had a hope of breaking free, as they do in that film and several others from the era.
But things got bad for zombies in the '60s, says the worried analyst of the undead.
"From the late 1960s, the nature of zombies changed and they were portrayed as hordes of brain-consuming monsters with no voodoo context and no controlling master," Pearce says, outlining the dilemma of today's brain-dead.
He says that now the zombies have no controller, they have no hope of ever being free. JUST LIKE US.
Zombies may well be popular today because they speak to a similar feeling of powerlessness shared by many members of our society.
If we ever want to reclaim our brains, we should have a think and a chat about zombie films – and then fight to reclaim our autonomy, says the doc.
The key question is why, like today's portrayal of zombies, are we unwilling to take a stand against the powers-that-be and overwhelmed by a lack of political interest? It seems the time is right to reclaim the original zombie concept of a controlling sorcerer but one that can successfully be resisted. Today's zombie phenomenon is a really good opportunity to get people thinking about who may be wishing to control our brains and what resources we have to resist.
In the past, zombies wandered around consuming brains, but today's zombies are encouraged to wander around consuming the latest, heavily advertised, branded goods.
Steve Jobs was the voodoo commander. We knew it all along. ®
Dr Nick Pearce will present Can Zombies help us understand today's society? at the cheerily named Festival of Social Science
"The key question is why, like today's portrayal of zombies, are we unwilling to take a stand against the powers-that-be and overwhelmed by a lack of political interest?"
It's really very simple, if discouraging. There is a lack of political interest because it doesn't much matter whom you vote for (as the outcome will be very similar). For instance, whom would you vote for to make sure the UK would not repeat the crime of unprovoked aggressive war in future? Certainly none of the parties that have any chance of gaining power.
And why are citizens unwilling to take a stand? Ah, that's the (fairly) clever bit. Precisely because we are always being assured that we live in a free democratic society - virtually a political Utopia, on which no improvement is conceivable - any attempt to "take a stand" or exert pressure on government except through the mechanism of elections can be treated as criminal subversion, and put down harshly. After all, who but a maniac or a pervert would want to change the ideal constitution we have right now?
There is a third point, which is the cleverest aspect of the whole arrangement. Usually, there is no question of violent demonstrations or uprisings, because any expression of discontent is simply ignored or (if necessary) laughed off! That is a trick the Hitlers and Stalins never mastered - the ability to ignore discontent and protest. Better still, our masters can then point to their tolerance and tell us that "a dictator would never stand for being made fun of the way Rory Bremner, say, or Private Eye does".
I mean, it was only 32 years ago that George A Romero stated explicitly that his zombies were meant to reflect traits in various social groups, ranging from mindless consumers in Dawn of the Dead to the homeless in his unmade script for Twilight of the Dead. One character in Dawn of the Dead even lampshades it by saying that the zombies trying to get into the shopping mall are just doing what made them comfortable in life.
Extremely well put
Generally the point is there are 2 main types of dictatorship.
1) Overt and visible - Stalin, Adolf,Gaddafi etc
2) Covert and invisible - UK/US/Western Democracies
This is sophisticated in that this true dictator never presents themselves directly but elects 2 candidates to dual one another to provide the illusion of democracy, whilst retaining loyalty and control using finance and power and privilege to keep the candidates in line.
Whenever a candidate wears out his/her welcome and the public becomes disenfranchised a new 'leader' is elected giving the impression of change. The true dictator of course never loses his power and never becomes tainted.
Option 1 almost always get overthrown at some point or another.
Option 2 never results in any true revolution and sufficiently divides the public to prevent any concerted assault on those in true power.
A simple question is this. If you lived in the USA for the past 10 years and you wanted to vote for a party opposed to war who should you have voted for?
Since both parties have fully supported the war the answer is neither choice would have given what you wanted.
Of course if a true 3rd candidate appears (Ross Perot) they are quickly threatened with death (or in the case of Ross Perot) his daughter as well. A quick on-line search will yield further information on this.