Are Zombies the New Vampires?
I'm kind of getting tired of this comparison. I think it's derived from those who worship at the feet of vampires, glittering darkly into the night. The question comes from those people who were laughed at in high school and wanted desperately to be a cool kid. A recent NY Times article used some slap-dashed geek logic that did little to promote the scholarship of zombies any farther than a re-visitation of The Breakfast Club.
James Marsters (Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to Robert Pattinson (Edward on Twilight) the actors can mostly be themselves. They might add a little toothy sparkle, but they aren't decomposing in your imagined arms like zombies.
So because Vampires are cool, as are werewolves, zombies are uncool? Are we back in high school? Is the popular media, such as the New York Times guilty of creating cool monster cliques as if we were all in the hallway between classes of the Popular Monster High School? Is the football team composed of werewolves and are the cheerleaders vampires? Does that mean that zombies are the special ed kids? Do our green-skinned creations ride the proverbial short bus?
One of these days the media will look past their GQ attitudes and see zombies for what they really are. You see, where vampire and werewolf media is about the monster, zombie fiction is about humanity's reaction to the monster. Sure, there are some fine exceptions like S. G. Brown's Breathers (zombie point of view) or Yvonne Navarro's Afterage (definitively about humanity's survival in an apocalyptic vampire world), but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Empire of Salt and others are written from the human perspective and are treatises on what people do in order to survive.
Vampire and Werewolf media is much less about the survival of the people, but rather the survival of the monster. Often, they create the need for viewers and readers to champion the monster over humanity, which is almost gleefully accomplished, especially in our post Buffy the Vampire Slayer Universe.
synecdoche for ourselves, living vicariously through them. I get that. But don't confuse vicarious living with a total capitulation of our humanity. You see, zombie media is our response to everything out of control in our lives. It's a commentary on our inability to escape the inescapable and argue against the inarguable. Just as the 1950s saw an explosion in monster movies, the late 2000s saw a similar explosion in zombie fiction and movies for much the same reason. Where we were terrified of an invisible threat called the Soviet Union back then, now we have invisible threats that reveal themselves as terrorists and viruses. We are afraid so we put other people in danger and let them escape or die so we don't have to.
Do me a favor, spend a little bit more time in your next article not trying to be a cool kid in the hallway. Instead, dig a little more deeply into the psyche of a populace who is suddenly embracing zombies. For the last time, it's not about what's cool, it's about how scared we are.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Glittering Darkly About Zombies
Weston Ochse is the author of more than twenty books, most recently the SEAL Team 666 series which has been optioned by MGM Films. He's also the author of the Grunt Life series, a military science fiction series concentrating on the lives of PTSD survivors. His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with more than 30 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.