Why are zombies so popular in horror movies and novels at the moment? What evidence can support your theories?
The reason zombies are so popular today is that they provide an escape from the everyday woes individuals face. Given today's economic challenges, political woes, wars and conflicts around the world, people need an escape, and a way to, at least figuratively, fight back at the unseen evils. Two articles last year support this theory. The first, written by Doug Gross for CNN, quotes author Max brooks, who wrote Zombie Survival Guide, and World War Z, as stating, "You can't shoot the financial meltdown in the head -- you can do that with a zombie." The complete article is found at http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/10/02/zombie.love/index.html
The second article, written by Craig Wilson for USA Today, found at http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2009-04-08-zombies-pop-culture_N.htm,
quoted author Seth Grahame-Smith, who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies written with Jane Austen, as indicating that Zombies "connect because they're lovable menaces, funny, and easy metaphors." Further, he stated that, "They've always been used to skewer the ills of society," he says. "It's not surprising they're making a comeback in these intense times."
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But why zombies out of all the possible antagonists out there. It is easier to understand the attraction (which I must say it is) of vampires for instance. So what is it about rottening corpses walking around that attract us? I know Romero had an idea of why he placed the group of protagonists in a shopping mall, and that his movies tend to be political in one way or another. Still, I can not get the great revival of zombie-stories. Antagonists that can not talk or behave with a purpose in most cases. Not a hord of Hannibal Lectors, if you know what I mean.Have you any idea of where to find the clues to these apocalypic visions? Or is it like that, that we throughout history have apocalyptic stories and myths at low-points in society?
If you consider history, "monster movies" seem to rise in popularity when society faces uncertainty. In the case of zombies, I think their popularity in times such as these provides a relatively safe place in which to explore our collective fears. While we can conceive of larger-than-life mutant animals, such as King Kong or Godzilla, given the world in which we live, Zombies still seem to be a safe escape. Making them scary looking enough to be so far removed from reality helps us distance ourselves from the terrors and horrors we face every day in our financial and violent worlds.
Regarding your other point regarding the flourishing of apocalyptic stories and myths at low points, we do, as a society, seem to explore such themes in more depth during those times. Some believe that the Lord of the Rings Trilogy movies have a correlation to the U.S. War in Iraq. Others believe that Godzilla was a metaphor for Japan's rise or survival despite Hiroshima. Still others believe The Blob and a whole series of Hitchcock movies in which man faces what at the time may seem to be unthinkable horrors that pull at the core of our fears are an outward expression of our collective unconscious. One could also explore the correlation between slasher movies and our own increasingly violent society, and find a dovetailing between popular serial killers and the authorship or production of novels and movies.
At such times, however, hero movies seem to also be popular. Consider the superhero movies that arose out of comic books that have been a huge part of popular culture over time. Such heroes as Superman, Batman, and Wolverine show up when we feel society feels as if it is getting out of hand, and we want to be rescued from the awful takeover of our world by the forces of evil. When we can reduce our world to a battle between good and evil, it seems a little more conquerable.
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