Why do Zombies continue to creep into our culture? It all started back in 1968 with the release of Night of The Living Dead, and that bandwagon hasn't slowed down. In fact we live in an age where you can find a Zombie movie, Zombie book, Zombie TV and heck even bands about zombies. So why all the content and what does it mean for us as a society? People often say our fascination comes down to what we have become. Is the zombie a metaphor for humans who have given up the joy in life and become corporate mindless beings? Do we like them because of our fear of becoming them, a lifeless husk seeking its next meal to devour? Lets look at some modern day zombie TV shows and what lessons we can learn.
The Walking Dead
Let us start with the show that truly brought the Zombie phase back. This show has become a cultural phenomenon and no wonder, its a pretty damn good television show. The show centers around a group of survivors doing their best to survive. Funny enough, the show about Zombies focuses more on the human element than the walking dead. With good reason, humans are the true villain in the series. The zombies act more like wild animals in the woods where the humans are the ones becoming cannibals, dictators and even worse becoming a parent. Humanity is flawed and when you look at the ever eating zombies you can see resemblance to how we walk each day. We consume, we digest and we spit it all back at the masses. We are the Zombies, watching the humans survive. It isn't until we as humans face a crisis where we wake up to the world around us. The humans in this story, show the breakdowns we face everyday in a skewed reality.
Lesson to be learned: Survival will pit human against human. Family binds them, selfishness destroys them. Humans are the true evil, zombies are just humans without belief.
This is a new show that focuses mainly on the discovery of different parts of the US and what the Z virus made them become. A man is infected with the Z virus but undergoes a special treatment which makes him immune to becoming a Zombie. Where The Walking Dead focuses on the members of its group, Z Nation focuses on the different groups occupying the zombie world they live in. With Citizen Z guiding their way by satellite (he is the computer guy who is stranded at a military base) this rag tag team finds what humans become when everything goes to shit. From an almost utopia to a women only camp, the places they find show true humanity. Some have been able to make money through the events by selling guns, medicine and homemade spike bats. The show is little bit goofier than The Walking Dead but it still paints a picture, humans will not rest even in the apocalypse. This shows us the fine line between being human and a zombie as the main character begins to change into a mix of both and at times it seems he even enjoys what he is becoming.
Lesson to be learned: Humans will find a way, but humanity's way is not always the best for everyone. There is fine line between being human and being a zombie.
In The Flesh
A very underrated BBC show that really turned the zombie genre on its head. In the start of the show we are introduced to Luke, an 18 year old boy who survived “The Rising”. And by survived I mean he was a zombie who was cured by the government. In this world the zombie apocalypse happened and we were able to find a cure. So now, the recently dead turned human are coming back to their families. You would think this would be a good thing, turns out not everyone is happy that they are back. Even Luke’s sister who had joined the militia during “The Rising” can’t even look her own brother in the eyes. This takes a deeper look into what zombies are and what the effects would be on zombies turned human. The zombies turned human can remember certain things from their time as zombies as one girl remembers biting people. This idea drives what we talked about earlier, the fine line between humanity and ruthless killer deep below.
Lessons to be learned: Would you kill your own blood who has turned into a killer, if you knew later they could be saved? As we've seen in other zombie movies and shows, some people bring this up. If we kill zombies, are we just murdering a sick patient? Would we be so willing to murder family and friends who were afflicted with Ebola or some other terrible disease?
Zombies will continue to fascinate our minds for decades to come. Just as Vampire tales continue to exist, as they echo our dream of living immortal. So will Zombie stories egg our interest in what defines humanity and how little effort it takes to get rid of it. Many call us zombies already, filling our heads with useless knowledge and fueled by junk food and violent media. These are the parables of our time and its important to dissect it. To understand the fine line that makes us human.