Fox Mulder: How come when people come back from the dead, they always wanna hurt the living?
Dana Scully: Well, that’s because people can’t really come back from the dead, Mulder. I mean, ghosts and zombies are just projections of our own repressed cannibalistic and sexual fears and desires. They are who we fear that we are at heart. Just mindless automatons who can only kill and eat.
Fox Mulder: Party pooper.
Resident Evil. The Walking Dead. Warm Bodies. 28 Days. Zombieland. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I am Legend (which is worse because the short story it’s based on is actually a very deep vampire story). All crap…piles and piles of crap.
So this week I’m going to review World War Z, which is a bit of a problem because I hate zombie movies. I like most of Brad Pitt’s work, but just from the trailers this does not appear to be his best work and this film has been mired in production problems. But to give the movie a fair shake, I need to vent my loathing for zombie flicks first.
The Zombii, originally a bizarre side point of African Vodou and Caribbean Voodoo, zombies were originally people killed and revived by a sorcerer called a bokor to be used as a slave for bokor. Not that this has anything to do with Hollywood’s mindless version of the zombie, a mindless flesh and brain eating monster that seems to be animated by some bizarre virus. Honestly when was the last time you saw a zombii that was true to the legend, a being animated by voodoo priest? Weekend at Bernie’s II? Clearly not a popular plot line with Hollywood…and if you think my complaining about not being true to legend is a just whiny and elitist just consider first we had non-Voodoo zombies, which gave permission for sparkly wimpy vampires and chip’n’dales werewolves. See what happens when you corrupt the original legends? See why this has to be stopped? Why the line must be drawn here!
But zombie movies are dumber for other reasons.
The first being the spiritual side of things. Back to the opening quote, “zombies are just projections of our own repressed cannibalistic and sexual fears and desires. They are who we fear that we are at heart. Just mindless automatons who can only kill and eat.” I think there is something to this. This is what we fear we are like when our higher reasoning is taken away that we are an utterly violent, completely unthinking, monsters. The Freudian ID on crack. The problem with this is it serves one of the greatest lies about humanity that there is: that we are all corrupt. That we are all evil. That we are all unworthy at our core. Where you find fanatics on any side you find this lie, that at your core you are nothing but a monster and must subvert yourself to something else, specifically whatever the particular brand of fanaticism is. Of course different for two reasons. The first is that you are your soul not your body, and the soul is perfect, not corrupted, so this is the absolute opposite of the what is at your core…and to try and convince you of that is a very dangerous lie. Okay you say, but what is the body like without the soul? Still not like a zombie…because I can easily point to millions, billions of bodies that where the soul has little to no impact on brain or the body. Most people. Most people ignore their souls, most souls try to be ignored, and the mindless, plodding people straight out of Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and the argument that you are nothing but the mindless zombie at the core is nothing but “a tedious argument of insidious intent.”
And if attempting to desecrate the soul of humanity wasn’t enough, there is always the second half to almost every zombie picture: the survivors. Let me run down the formula for just about every plot of survivors in every zombie movies. People band together for protection, one or more of those people is corrupt, they try to take over and you have an even smaller group of survivors fighting both the zombies and the evil humans. Yes there are variations, but almost without exception, the survivors follow a Hobbesian view of humanity, a war of all against all, where there is no reason or humanity governing people, just the survival of the fittest. So the zombies are bad but real people are worse. Yes, wonderful inspiring message. I’m so glad this is the genre that has captivated millions, the belief that no matter how you cut it people are terrible.
And let’s not forget what a hopeful genre this is. When was the last time you saw a zombie film with a happy ending? Never.* The entire premise is that everyone will eventually be turned, no matter what they do, no matter how hard they try. Human society will collapse, there is no hope, there will be no rebuilding or rebirth.
I’ve seen Ingmar Bergman films that aren’t this nihilistic.
This genre is without any redemptive points. Yeah there are a few that are mindless brain candy, but there is nothing worth focusing on here since every aspect of it is wrong, at a deep ethical and metaphysical level. It’s reveling in fear and lies. It shouldn’t attract the attention of so many people in so many venues. Oh look there’s a documentary on the National Geographic channel about the Zombie Apocalypse. WTF?
People grow up and put this depressing trash and the philosophy that is at its core behind you!
Okay, that’s out, let us hope Brad Pitt shows me something more to this genre.
“No one knows why, but second only to eating the brains of the living, the dead love affordable prefab furniture.”
“IKEA,” chanted the dead. “First we feast, then IKEA. First we feast, then IKEA.”
–The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore
*Okay there is I am Legend. But, again, originally a vampire story…that and the movie sucked, does anyone remember when Will Smith made good movies? And the short story has a much better ending.