It’s that time of year again. Autumn. Colorful leaves. Pumpkin everything. Most of all it means, Halloween! I’ve been watching horror films and with two episodes of The Walking Dead under my belt, I can say that I’m ready for it.
I have loved horror, gore, and ghost stories since I was a toddler. I love witches and vampires, werewolves and monsters. Really anything spooky and supernatural. The creepy and the spooky delights me in a way that not much else does. Being scared is fun (since it’s all just pretend)! The dark and creepy never fail to get a squeal out of me.
But I love zombies, most of all. There is nothing more terrifying to me than zombies. Gauging from the popularity of zombie movies in the last 50 years and even more so recently with The Walking Dead, I’m not the only one.
What is it about zombies, though, that people love so much?
Zombies have been a legend for centuries and embedded themselves into pop culture. In the past decade, it’s as if the obsession has taken hold as intensely as an actual zombie virus.
Most, if not all of zombie stories start out the same. Some disease gets released and for whatever reason people die but many reanimate and develop the taste for human flesh.
The formula is as follows:
That right there is a legit magical, mathematical equation produced by the leading zombie science experts. It’s the basis for all scenarios that produce the living dead.
The obsession with zombies may seem like it’s all in good fun, but I think there is a deeper meaning to our obsession. It goes into the depths of our psyches. Death is a part of life. We all die. Regardless of who we are or what we have, whether young or old. We will die.
Tsk, tsk. Such a pesky inconvenience. It’s a fact that is always nagging at us in the back of our minds. It’s tragic, it’s unfair, the grief from losing a loved one is almost unbearable. We don’t know how the hell to make sense of it all. So we celebrate it with wakes and elaborate funerals. We trivialize it by the way of Halloween and silly slasher movies. When death is something that the living partake in, it makes us feel like we have some control over it. Death makes us desperate and what helps us cope is to put pretty flowers on graves and hang plastic skeletons from porches.
And we’ve created zombies. They are the representation of death. It’s something we hate and fear. It’s death reimagined in the most horrible of ways: rotting human corpses, reanimated and roaming around our physical world. They exist alongside us, reminding us of our own mortality.
We take it a step further by turning zombies into villains that have a hunger for living flesh. In real life, the fear of death preys upon the minds and hearts of the living and we know that eventually, death will consume us all.
The fascination with zombies (death) is only one part of the obsession equation. There is perhaps a more important part of the whole zombies roaming the Earth thing. It’s because zombies will usher in, dun dun dun….the APOCALYPSE.
Oh, how we love hearing and seeing those words: Zombie Apocalypse. We become so overrun by zombies that the entire mother effing world shuts down!
So here it is. Zombies happen then the world goes to shit. Society as we know it no longer exists. Our purpose in life now is to just survive. We are reverting back to a more primitive way of life. We get to fight and scavenge, seek out some shelter, build fires with our hands and eat beans out of a can. It’s like one long, terrifying camping trip.
In uber modernized societies, I believe there is a secret longing to go back to a more simple way of life. (Sans zombies of course.) Many of us are in this 9 to 5 grind of mediocre jobs. We have bills to pay. Perhaps never ending debt, societal obligations and culture restrictions. A human’s need for safety is satiated by routine and structure but we may have imprisoned ourselves in corporate cubicles, basic rights, and freedoms owned by the government, slaves to the system, Big Brother, and so on.
We may feel like zombies ourselves. But it’s by facing any real life zombies and by slaughtering them, by blowing their heads off, by wailing on one, bashing in its skull. Regardless of how violent and bloody it may be, there’s a rush, a release, a relief to kill death. To conquer it. To say, “Not today death. I overcame you. I’ve survived. You’re not going to eat me alive. I win.”
If we could do this, we could be set free from the endless cycle of the mundane. We get to kill what we’ve become thus setting ourselves free to become human again, to become alive again.
We’re all longing for real purpose. It’s a need to live for something more. We want our purpose to be a part of a fledgling band of humans. Sole survivors among men. A ragtag team of survivors that get to be the star of the show for once. The living become important because it is up to us to survive, rebuild society, repopulate the Earth. We get to truly matter.
I’m sure though that if it came down to it, most of us would kill ourselves as soon as we knew life would never be the same. No cable. No smartphones. No internet. No stocked grocery shelves and GASP! no Starbucks.
To have to fight and forage for what we need. Most of us wouldn’t make it a day. We would be resorting to eating people faster than the reanimated corpses.
I’d like to think I’d become a major zombie killing badass. But if I saw a horde of zombies coming my way, I’d shit my pants and probably die of fright. I wouldn’t even have to resort to jumping off of a cliff.
Even if someone does become the hero, surviving the zombie hordes until they grow old and gray, sad to say, they’re going to die anyway. But at least, it was a life lived with an animal like purpose. Because many of us, on our death bed, have something to regret. We may regret not marrying that person, going to that school instead of the other one, passing on that job, settling.
In a zombie apocalypse, we’re all back to square one. We’re all living, once again, like our secluded, nomadic ancestors. We all get to go back to the beginning and start over. We get a reset button.
Since we’re starting over in a world where society doesn’t exist, there is no pressure to live up to certain expectations. There are no big dreams anymore. No aspirations to become a famous actor or musician or award-winning novelist.
No time to get our hands on the latest fashions. No coveting someone’s hair or clothing, no wishing we had a bigger house or a vacation home in the Bahamas. No jewels to adorn ourselves, no fur coats for show, no vintage wine collections. No creature comforts, let alone the superficial and trivial.
We will all have better things to do with our time. We’ll be fighting to live instead of sitting for hours watching reality TV. Our minds will be preoccupied with more important things.
Who gives a fuck what the Kardashians are up to when the undead are trying to eat your face off!