I’ve had zombies on my brain for a while now, ever since I read World War Z (which I recommend, by the way). Before this I had been avoiding zombies: I have NO interest in horror films (they give me nightmares!) and zombies had only really existed as films before Brooks.
I’m now infatuated with them in a small way. I watched a few films: Shawn of the Dead (because Simon Pegg was in it) and Night of the Living Dead (to sample some George Romero) and even White Zombie (to get a feel of the racist-plantation zombie movies, which came in handy when Herman Cain began making “plantation” references), but zombie films still aren’t that interesting to me.
I find it frustrating how films treat zombies: they either show them as slaves or as objects of fear and revulsion.
Zombies as slaves don’t come up much anymore, but they are a part of the lore. They were the original zombies, fresh from the plantations of Haiti (that evil place where slaves held the only successful rebellion against their white owners which could only have happened if they were zombified – oooooh!). But the zombie as object of fear and revulsion is more popular right now – and it’s such a limited trope!
Take the Romero zombies, for example. In order for the “plucky survivors” to outwit the “zombies,” the zombies are presented as very slow and very stupid indeed. Nevertheless, the non-zombies are just slightly-less stupid, slightly-less slow and a lot weaker and frailer, because otherwise why would our plucky survivors be in any danger?
Literary Agents are now actively looking for zombie books to sell to publishers, but the books they want are ones that feature the “plucky survivors” model that George Romero and Max Brooks favor. Publishing follows the trends set by films – and book sellers want to cash in on the audience they might capture when the film version of World War Z (starring the hottie Brad Pitt!) is released than with the Brooks book – which has been out for several years now and is sort of “literary” besides.
I’m sure the agents will find plenty of such zombie books to publish (there are already several out there) and, according to my online zombie group for writers, more than enough writers eager to write such “zombie vs. plucky survivalist” books.
But is that all there is to the zombie infatuation – plucky survivalism?
In several cities people participate in “zombie walks.” Many thousands dress themselves up as zombies and shamble down a street.
No one dresses up and participates in a “plucky survivor” parade.
One of the more popular songs/videos in history was “Thriller” – a song featuring zombies, not “plucky survivalists.”
Isn’t the zombie genre missing out on an audience of people who identify more with zombies than survivalists?