Any of you reading this who have a better knowledge of zombies can probably provide more depth to what I am about to write.  As it is, even though I like zombies I have always been more a fan of vampires.  And my experience with zombies mostly lies with the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, where zombies simply walk and kill.

The modern take of zombies is that zombies not only walk around killing/eating people, but they carry a disease which turns other people into zombies.

My cousin had an interesting take on zombies.  She said that zombies are a symbol/metaphor for consumerism.  It never occurred to me that there might be zombie philosophy.

I began to ponder what she said.  It seems to make sense.  Zombies eat and eat and eat and eat.  They are never sated, never can get enough.  Their condition spreads so fast that a zombie apocalypse is able to occur.

Now compare that to consumerism: there is no such thing as a time in which a person has enough stuff or enough money to buy stuff, if that person lets consumerism take hold.  Let’s take for example a story my cousin (different cousin) told me about Black Friday.  Her aunt (on the other side of the family) was at Wal-Mart for Black Friday deals.  She was reaching for a camera when another lady bit her arm to make her drop the camera, so she might take it for herself.  Yes.  The other woman bit her.  I really can’t think of anything to add to the biting detail that would add anything significant.  It pretty much sums up the point.

So.  Is our society turning into a bunch of zombies? It could be…

I just find the whole Black Friday thing bizarre.  It is maniacal, really.  Crazy-early hours, mass hysteria, a focus on stuff.  Objects. A part of me wants to go see it, but only for the sake of anthropological study of my own culture, which, honestly I often find more bizarre than any other culture I’ve thus far encountered or studied.  I just reminded myself of the German girl I met in Italy who wanted to go watch the crazy Americans.

Now, before anyone harps on about how Black Friday is a joyful family tradition, let me add a bit: I get that there are really good deals and to many it is a long-time tradition.  The part where I find issue is the mass hysteria and the absolute focus on stuff. Say what you will about deals.  When mass hysteria is combined with a complete focus on objects that really hold no long-term significance, the results are just dreadful and frankly embarrassing.

A note on mass hysteria: it spreads just as quickly as any zombie disease.  It has no logic.  Only reaction based on what the crowd is doing.  It isn’t always absolutely negative.  Example: a movie theatre full of high school kids laughing and crying largely because someone else in the crowd made a big show of it.  However, it is often dangerous.  Remember the Salem Witch Trials? The Red Scare of the 1950’s? Two scary examples of mass hysteria.

Anyway, here’s hoping that we don’t become a bunch of zombies this Christmas season!

3 thoughts on “Zombies

  1. That is awesome, Tamsen. I love it! Yes, I totally agree. I can’t believe a lady bit someone so she could get what she wanted, hello! Is she 2-years-old? That is insane. I can’t wait till you have your own column. Have you looked into writing for the school paper or studying mass communications/journalism? Golly, you’d be good at it. You are so good at compelling me to read. Bravo!

  2. What a marvelous post Tamsen. That is indeed a bizarre story about the biting woman. It makes we feel weird to think about violent shoppers..

    I’m not sure where zombies originate, but the earliest source to my knowledge is Voodoo, where a practitioner

    • (oops, did not mean to post that short)
      is believed to be able to use a spell or potion of some sort to put someone in a mindless trance or even to resurrect their dead spirit.

      Now that I think of it, I believe George A. Romero made a movie after Night of the Living Dead called Dawn of the Dead wherein consumerism is parodied by placing the location of the movie at a shopping mall, though I think the “zombified state spread by bite” idea came later. I’m not entirely sure when that mechanic came into zombie lore (seeing it in vampires and werewolves, it doesn’t seem a far stretch applying it to zombies as well) but it does seem to give power to any parallel drawn between zombies and consumerism.

      It also could simply be that zombies just weren’t scary enough if you had to completely die to become a zombie. “One bite and it’s all over” really adds to the intensity of zombie survival situations. Though, the philosophy of zombies and consumerism sounds less simplistic. Thanks for posting, it was a good read.

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