From the CBC News:
In the popular TV series The Walking Dead, humans struggle to escape from a pack of zombies hungry for flesh. Prank alerts have warned of a zombie apocalypse on radio stations in a handful of states. And across the country, zombie wannabes in tattered clothes occasionally fill local parks, gurgling moans of the undead.
“Are these just unhealthy obsessions with death and decay? To Clemson University professor Sarah Lauro, the phenomenon isn’t harmful or a random fad, but part of a historical trend that mirrors a level of cultural dissatisfaction and economic upheaval.”
Read the article here.
I think this gets close to the truth, while completely missing it.
In my view, it’s not about zombies. It’s about the end of the world. People have been fascinated with the end of the world since the world began.
In fact, apocalyptic literature is the world’s oldest. Most cultures tell of the Great Flood, for example.
The worse things get, the more people get itchy about the end of the world. They fear (and desire the catharsis) of a major change. An apocalyptic event.
Surviving the end of the world is even more fascinating with the end itself. In survival, the reader is conquering death, ensuring species survival, and is now completely free of external authority and previous artificial responsibilities and obligations.
In the 1950s, we had Martians. In the 70s, environmental collapse. In the 90s, viral plague. Now it’s zombies.
Why zombies? Why not? First, they’re incredibly versatile. You can read whatever you want into their meaning. They provide an excellent nemesis in a post-apocalyptic world. Our survivors have intelligence, weapons, grit. The zombies number in hordes and are driven by a tireless, insatiable, fearless hunger. Some of these zombies were once your loved ones.
For a writer, it offers endless storytelling. For a reader or moviegoer, loads of fun with a dash of catharsis.