Monday, July 26, 2010
Welcome to Zombieland. No, wait, we've been living in it since the Twentieth Century.
It was probably 1970 when I first saw George Romero's 1968 zombie classic, Night of the Living Dead, at a small theater on High Street, off the OSU campus in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it was campy, stupid and not particularly scary. Romero's zombies were folks who had been dead, now arisen to live off the flesh of the living. There had been zombie movies before, but I think this was like one of the first so-called "zombie holocaust" flicks (the first being 1964's The Last Man on Earth), where the disease, if that's what it was, went viral and threaten mankind in totality. Being dead, Romero's zombies shuffled and struck with girlie blows. I guess that was because, being dead, they hadn't been getting much exercise lately. This made them easy to out-run and easy to kill -- all you had to do was wreck their slow moving brain cases with a baseball bat or a well-placed shot.
Such zombies would hardly scare a second grader today. That is why today's film zombies are usually not resurrected dead folks, but infected live ones who have, in the process, lost their humanity if not their souls.
In I Am Legend, the Will Smith 2007 film (which was a remake of Charleton Heston's 1971 The Omega Man, which was itself a remake of The Last Man on Earth, the first film treatment of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend), the zombies were living folks infected by a virus originally crafted to cure cancer. In 28 Days Later (and its sequel, 28 Weeks Later), the virus originates in a lab where monkeys have been infected with "Rage." The monkeys are set loose by animal rights activists, and the zombie apocalypse is on.
In this year's Zombieland, the Zombie Holocaust is mined for comedic effect. My daughter Zoe presented me with this DVD for my birthday and I have to admit it is pretty funny, even if lefty loon Woody Harrelson stars in it. The movie was a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $60.8 million in 17 days, surpassing the Dawn of the Dead remake to become the top-grossing zombie film to date.
"Nut up, or shut up."
There are, I am told, beaucoup zombie video games, and zombies are now a fixed part of American popular culture.
The zombie as political metaphor has also sprung up on both sides of the political divide. The left-collectivists in particular now refer to their opponents (any and all opponents, it would seem) as "zombies." At the Huffington Post, a David Sirota column is headlined "Confirming Right-Wing Zombie Lies: Obama's Budget Freeze." On Alternet,Chauncey DeVega opines on "Zombie Tea Party George Washington, Right Wing Epistemic Closure, and Slavery in America." And at MediaMatters.org, we are treated to "BP writing the cap-and-trade bill: Another right-wing zombie lie in the making?"
Of course we too use the zombie metaphor, with greater justification I think. The Borg of Star Trek is a personification of the collectivist zombie, "resistance is futile, assimilate or die." The classic zombie is, of course already dead, and your assimilation by him IS your death. Zombies in their various iterations, if they have not lost their souls have at least lost virtually everything that makes them human. The divine spark, that creation in the image of God, is gone. And, it is not unimportant to stress, they are about the wholesale conversion of the human to the inhuman.
I thought off Zombieland when very late last night, unable to sleep, I watched The Soviet Story from a link I picked up off Pete's WRSA site. There are those who believe that the left-collectivist virus of the 20th Century is dormant now, and that any suggestion to the contrary is "paranoid." Oliver Stone is happy to tell you differently.
And while most of our present day Eloi are worried about stuff like this, the Borgian zombies are still preparing to assimilate them.
If you can find the time, watch the documentary below. It is of poor quality, as these things go, but you will never look at the zombie regimes of the 20th Century the same way again. The Nazis and the Soviets were merely rival zombie gangs from different towns. When they begin roving again in a community near you, just remember Zombieland's first two rules:
Rule Number One: "Cardio (fatties get eaten first)."
Rule Number Two: "Double tap."