I fear as I write this, it may already be too late. By the time I am finished, the zombies will have attacked, and there will be very few readers left to convince of the imminent doom.
In the past few weeks, a face was eaten in Florida; intestines were ripped out and thrown at police officers in New Jersey; heart and brain portions were consumed in Maryland; human male genitals were served for dinner in Tokyo; a man ate his wife’s lips so they couldn’t be sewn back on to kiss another man; and for history’s sake, let’s not forget the woman who ate her infant son’s brain and toes in 2009. If those morsels of flesh-eating mayhem aren’t enough to alert you to some sort of flaw in the fabric of normality, check out the bizarre things that have been happening in the past two weeks across the country.
To top the eek factor of the cannibalistic stories in the news, our nation has been engaging in a collective zombie-apocalypse discussion ever since the CDC so brilliantly incorporated zombies into their marketing strategy. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the CDC, in conjunction with the secret illuminati branch of the government, know of this coming zombie apocalypse, or are perhaps even choreographing it.
This ongoing, collective discussion of a possible zombie apocalypse has captured the imagination of the masses, and if you’ve ever heard of The Secret, you know what this collective imagination is capable of. So, let’s face it— if the zombie apocalypse hasn’t already started (which, in my opinion, it has), it soon will.
Many of us are asking ourselves what this zombie apocalypse business is all about, and why people are flocking to the idea like Trekkies to a sci-fi convention. My curiosity lies in why it took so long for people to realize the potentiality of and fear for a zombie apocalypse, as I have been having nightmares about it for years.
I’m not a rocket scientist or student of Freud, but I feel confident assessing my irrational fear of zombies. The thing that scares me most in life, aside from snakes, is people. People are freakin’ scary. Zombie apocalypse movies give me nightmares because they resemble my greatest fear: hoards of evil, mindless, soulless people whose only desire is to consume, as quickly as possible, every resource (in the case of zombies, non-zombie flesh) in sight. I imagine my general sense of sucking at life also contributes to my zombie nightmares. I break almost every piece of electronic equipment I touch. I start fires unintentionally (but don’t have the confidence or know-how to actually start, say, a grill or campfire). I have very few, if any, practical survival skills, and positive thinking only gets me so far before “reality” sets in. If the zombies start attacking, I will be in trouble.
Listening to these responses made me even more certain that the zombie apocalypse is right around the corner, because in order for there to be a zombie apocalypse, there has to be zombies. These people are ready. The apocalypse isn’t even full blown, and there are already willing participants. To top it off, the Oxford dictionary explains that a zombie can be conceived of as a dull or apathetic person. Likewise, Adele Nozedar notes in her book, Secret Signs and Symbols that “the term zombie has come to mean a person who carries out certain actions automatically without seeming to apply any conscious thought or decision making process.”
I know why zombies have been giving me nightmares for at least a decade, but why have zombies entered the collective mind of America as the monster of the year? Is it all because of the CDC’s propaganda? The concept of a zombie as an animated corpse or otherwise “husk” of a person under the influence of a sorcerer has existed for centuries; the concept of a zombie as an undead monster with an insatiable desire for brains has existed since the late 1960s; the zombie as a diseased, crazed, living freak is more recent, and the idea of a zombie as a dull or apathetic person must have existed at least since prescription drugs became so popular. So what is propelling this zombie-apocalypse compulsion right now?
Author Stephen T. Asma looks at the history of monsters in the mortal imagination in his book “On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears,” and asserts that the monsters we conceive of and insert into our popular culture (i.e., through movies) parallel societal conditions of the time.
So, perhaps the constant threat of “bioterrorism” made us choose zombies. Perhaps all the dead or wounded warriors with missing limbs in our recent wars remind us of the decaying, undead corpses. Perhaps those aimless individuals who do nothing but stare at their cell phones or televisions compel us to resurrect a monster in their image. Maybe our fears of dwindling natural resources coupled with our complete inability to stop consuming everything in sight make us sympathetic to the zombies. All in all, a zombie apocalypse seems like the perfect metaphor for the state of our society. Zombies survive on the flesh of the uninfected living, but they consume the edible ones so rapidly that their own demise is imminent. They will eat their way through all the eligible people, and there will be no way to renew the resource of non-infected human flesh. Zombies can’t eat zombies, and people can’t eat money.
That said, I have spent a lot of time thinking of alternative solutions to survival in the pre-apocalyptic “real world,” and have concluded that should the incidences of flesh-eating, zombie-like behavior escalate, I will not “join ’em.” The best way to survive any situation (zombie apocalypse included) is to decide you want to live. If it gets to the point where “living” means giving in (“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”) and becoming “undead,” I’ll take person number three’s advice and end my own life. I will never choose to be a zombie. Will you?
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