Zombies: What explains our attraction?

Poster of Romero's seminal zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead

I’ve been thinking about zombies lately. Well, I always think about zombies. But lately I’ve been thinking a LOT about zombies and the whole zombie apocalypse thing. It’s become quite an obsession with me, and I think I finally might have an idea why.

Zombies ‘R’ Us

There are two main reasons, in my opinion, that people like me are a bit obsessed with the creatures, and it’s because it’s so personal. What do I mean by this? Well, zombies are out to get us, and they will, eventually, do so. Run as we might, fortify our homes, they will get us. It may take years, maybe a whole lifetime, but they will get us. Of course, by “zombies,” I don’t mean zombies, but what they (in my opinion) represent:

Death and Zombies

First of all, we are all scared of dying (I guess there might be some exceptions out there, but I think this is a safe generalization). There is one simple reason (well, two). First, we simply don’t want to die. Most of us like it here, with our friends and family and lovers and pets and all of our stuff. It’s pretty good, most of the time.

Second, we all have this problem with dying, no matter what your religion or belief system. We simply don’t know what happens after we die. Not definitively. We have our ideas, our (desperate) hopes. But none of us really know. So the zombie phenomena, if you want to call it that, is a way for us to deal with our own deaths, it’s one way for us to “face” it (without truly facing it at all).

Because, in life, we continue to run from death, trying to outrun it, just as in the zombie stories and movies, where the heroes try to outrun the inevitable, too, in the form of zombies. In zombie fiction, everyone but us (“the hero”), and perhaps our significant other and a handful of hangers-on, dies. By relating and internalizing the role of the “hero,” we effectively conquer death while, at the same time, beating the crap out of the things that fly at us in the night: monsters from the grave.

The Zombie Apocalypse and the End of the World

As for the zombie apocalypse, let’s face it, there’s really nothing more frightening to any of us — atheist, born-again, Jesus fanatic, terrorist, average Joe — then the thought of the end of the world. Each for our own reasons. The loss of everything we know, all we hold dear, all time, history, the very existence of mankind. And yet…

Is it just me, or do we all, in some small way, wonder if we’d survive, be the hero of our own adventure? It’s the ultimate survivalist fantasy. But which, unfortunately, none of us would survive.

Final Thoughts on Death and Zombies

So we trudge through our days, trying to forget about death following so closely behind us. Trying not to think about our loved ones, our friends, our children, our parents, followed so closely, too. We hope to beat back the death and survive against all odds. Zombies free us to think about zombies and conquering them, and to avoid thinking about our own inevitable rotting corpses. Since the battle against Death can’t be won (at least not yet), I’m looking forward to a zombie apocalypse.

I’m planning to win that battle, how about you?
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