S.G. Browne

Zombies Don’t Care About the Economy

People are always asking me about zombies:

Have you always loved zombies?
Do you think you’ll survive the zombie apocalypse?
Is it necrophilia if you’re both dead?

In case you’re curious, the answers are:

Yes.
No.
Probably not.

Truth is, I’m not an authority on zombie sex. However, I do know a lot about sloughage, frothy purge, and cadaver impact testing.

For some reason, this troubles my parents.

But the one question that seems to come up most often is:

Why do you think zombies are so popular right now?

I hear a lot of people saying that the current mainstream popularity of zombies is a direct reflection of global fears regarding the economy and terrorism. Horror as catharsis for the fears and anxiety of a society making commentary on itself. They contend that zombies are the proletarians of the monster hierarchy and in troubled economic times, they become the poster child for the financial ills of a nation.  An allegory for the end of the world as we know it.

Me?  I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid.  I don’t believe the current surge in zombie popularity has anything to do with a reflection of global or economic fears.  And I sure as hell didn’t write Breathers because I was concerned about terrorists or my IRA.

Truth is, I think people have a tendency to apply social context where it doesn’t exist.

After all, where was the zombie mania during other major crises or catastrophes of the 20th century?  Like the Vietnam War? Or Watergate? How about the Iranian Hostage Crisis? The Stock Market crash of 1987? The Persian Gulf War? The election of George W. Bush?

It didn’t exist. Not on this scale.

So what happened to make them so popular today?  I’ll tell you what happened.  Zombies were taken out of their proverbial archetypal box.  No longer are they just the shambling, mindless, flesh-eating ghouls we’ve known and loved for most of the part four decades. They’ve expanded their range, become more versatile. More well-rounded. And who doesn’t enjoy a well-rounded zombie?

28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake made them faster.  Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland made them funnier. Fido made them domesticated.

Meanwhile, zombie fiction developed into a solid sub-genre, getting its start in 1990 with the publication of the John Skipp and Craig Spector anthology Book of the Dead.  Prior to that, zombie literature didn’t really exist and it didn’t really explode until this decade.

The new millennium brought with it a surge of zombie fiction, including, among others, The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z (Max Brooks), The Rising (Brian Keene),  Monster Island (David Wellington), Cell (Stephen King), Patient Zero (Jonathan Maberry), Day By Day Armageddon (J.L. Bourne), Happy Hour of the Damned (Mark Henry), Breathers, and of course, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith).

Not to mention all of the YA titles, like The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Carrie Ryan), Generation Dead (Daniel Waters), Zombie Queen of Newbury High (Amanda Ashby), and You Are So Undead To Me (Stacey Jay).

Young adult readers aren’t eating these up because they’re afraid of what’s happening to their 401k’s or if some terrorist is going to board their plane.  They’re reading about zombies because they’re fun and scary and entertaining.

Truth is, today’s zombies are faster.  Funnier.  Sentient.

In addition to running like Olympic sprinters, being domesticated as pets, and fighting for their civil rights, modern zombies write haiku, perform household chores, and are used as terrorist weapons. They can also be found on the Internet going to marriage counseling, falling in love, and singing to their former co-workers about how they want to eat their brains.

That’s why zombies are so popular today.  To misquote Bill Clinton, it’s not the economy, stupid.  It’s the fact that they’re branching out and discovering that undeath isn’t just about decomposing and eating brains anymore.

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Filed under: Just Blogging,Zombies — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 8:41 am

3 Comments »

  1. Very true. You mentioned all of my favorite zombie movies and literature and gave me a couple more to look at as well. You should post a “what I’m reading” section. I think that would be really interesting. ^_^

    Comment by Sarah Malone — October 20, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  2. “It’s the fact that they’re branching out and discovering that undeath isn’t just about decomposing and eating brains anymore.”

    This may be one of my favorite zombie quotes ever. So funny! I’m so glad my google alert sent me over, S.G.! Can’t wait to read Breathers.

    Best,

    Stacey Jay

    Comment by Stacey Jay — October 20, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  3. Hmm, a “what I’m reading section.” Good idea. Now where to put it…

    Comment by admin — October 20, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

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