The continuing fascination with the zombie motif in popular culture, including literature, film, television, and video games, points to the fact that zombies are of greater significance in our cultural psyche than simple vehicles for inducing easy fear. At the same time that the zombies themselves hold this weight, the fear of zombification - the threat of losing one’s selfhood and becoming one of the undead - holds an equal, if not greater, fascination for individuals as well.
Terrifying animals, such as giant sharks or vindictive spiders, and even humans who have gone insane and prey psychotically on other people fail to have the staying power in our imaginations and in our nightmares that zombies do. In part, there is the recognition that zombies used to be people, while giant sharks never were; even psychopaths are rarely found in society and the journey from “normal” person to psychopath is not as clear and as simple as that from “normal” person to zombie – no one is just bitten by a psychopath and becomes one.
While becoming the afternoon snack of a gigantic shark is not a pleasant thought, and neither is being murdered by a psychopath in horrific fashion, the key to understanding the hold that zombies have on our collective imagination is that not only is it easy to see ourselves in them, it is frightening to see how easy it was for another person to become a zombie – to lose herself or himself and everything that made them unique – and succumb to and fade into the zombie horde. At the same time, the way in which people react, the ways in which they become less human themselves when they come into contact with zombies and the zombie apocalypse is another horrifying way of losing oneself that zombies force us to c...
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...ing, or if we too have simply given up and shuffle about, having forgotten our reason for living. Ultimately, zombies carry the weight they do in popular culture because they scare us but also cause us to question ourselves. They force us to look at ourselves and in doing so bring forth our greatest fears about who we are and what our lives mean.
Boluk, Stephanie, and Wylie Lenz. "Infection, Media, and
Capitalism: from Early Modern Plagues to Postmodern Zombies." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies. 10.2 (2010): 126-147. Print.
Christie, Deborah, and Sarah J. Lauro.Better Off Dead: The
Evolution of the Zombie As Post-Human. New York: Fordham University Press, 2011. Internet resource.
Moreman, Christopher M, and Cory Rushton.Zombies Are Us: Essays
on the Humanity of the Walking Dead. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland, 2011. Internet resource.
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