Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Suffer the Zombies or Why We Are Not Sick of Dystopian Fiction

Why are zombies so fascinating?  Because, in a way, they are us.

You might say, "Oh, c'mon! How can we be zombies?  I'm certainly not a zombie, and neither are my friends and family."  And then you might say (quietly, so I can't hear—) "Seriously ... zombies?  She's nuts."

In zombie apocalypse lore perhaps 1% of the human race survives.  Maybe even less. Zombies (who were once human beings for the 2 or 3 people who don't know this) walk around in an "old-brain" stupor and the only time they show any spunk is when a human stumbles on the scene.  Zombies get sort of excited as they attempt to grab and eat the human.

If a human is bitten, he or she becomes a zombie.  Humans go to great lengths to isolate themselves from zombies for this very reason.

Humans survive because:
a) Zombies cannot think, they just keep moving
b) Zombies aren't very fast.  They are only a threat if there are lot of them or you are ambushed by one. But it's fairly rare to be ambushed by a zombie because ...
c) Zombies aren't very quiet.  They moan and groan and sometimes even snarl
d) Zombies are permanently neutralized when you get them in the head with a bullet/shovel/arrow/saber, etc.  It has to be the head.

I'm getting to the point.  Really I am.  Please humor me and watch this video (and disregard the political commentary below the video.  This isn't about politics.)
The super rich see us as zombies.  We want more money, but we don't know how to get it.  We,  the 99%, are losing our ability to think clearly but we try to cope by putting one foot in front of the other. We sometimes annoy the 1% when we get together in a "herd," but we aren't very fast in spite of Twitter and Facebook.  We aren't very quiet, but the 1% are okay with that as long as our moans and groans and snarls are about politics, religion and ideology.  Politics, especially, are run by the 1%.  The ultra-rich like to keep thick walls and the illusion that they are "job-creators" between us and them.

They don't want to get bitten.

They are also very glad to see us neutralized with a "shot" to the head: Horrid drivel in the form of "entertainment," bad schools where good ones are needed the most, an entire generation addicted to social media, and the underwriting of a popular culture that isn't centered on anything but "self."

Dystopian fiction is predicated on the notion that we all know something is wrong. My WIP draws heavily on the reality that so few people have so much money (and therefore, power.) That kind of thing, in the history of the world, has never turned out okay.

And no, I don't really think we're zombies. But I think the Koch brothers might.  And probably Bill and Melinda Gates do, too.


  1. I'm afraid I tend to look at another group of people as zombies: those hundreds of thousands of people in the world unwilling to think for themselves, to be creative, to be proactive rather than reactive... Y'know, the ones who believe everything Facebook tells them and honestly don't want to dig any deeper. This is probably terribly judgmental of me. Yet I think part of the reason that zombies are so popular is that everyone still has the ability (even if it is subconscious for some) to recognize the scariness of losing our individuality and becoming part of a herd.

    1. It's not judgmental at all. So many children are not given the tools for learning in this day and age so that when they reach the dialectical phase of intellectual development, all they can do is snap and snarl and moan ... which ill-suits them for the rhetorical phase. Facebook really does seem to be the place where ideas, already formed and "memed" are all set to slap up on one's wall. But honestly ... the shenanigans began when the Rockefellers, the Carnegies and the Mellons funded what has become the modern school back at the turn of the 20th century, designed to uniform employees. "People as units of production," as George, our old Latin tutor liked to say.

  2. Chewing on this Rosemary ... I think there is a certain desire to see where things go if taken to the nth degree. We go down a slippery slope of security, perfection, exercising our rights, etc. A lot of fiction *is* dystopian, only I hadn't seen it labeled as such. Even a simple family drama is really about how one family goes from dysfunction to function. And there is joy in seeing that one can rise from the wages or war, sin, death. Ah, the greatest story ever!!!

    1. Hope is such an essential part of any good story, is it not? The devil's greatest sorrow is that he cannot be as bad as God is good, since he, too, was created to love and be loved.

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  4. I used to love zombie books- but I read too many. Now they just freak me out. =( But I still have two zombie series that I want to finish as I really want to know what happens to the characters. That is, unless they get turned into zombies...

    1. Oh, heavens, Leandra! I have a hard time picturing you curled up with zombie books! It sounds like you are trying to engineer your own spoiler alerts ... "If they turn, I don't want to read 'em." You did read "Warm Bodies," of course? Isn't that a sort of "the power of love can even restore a pulse and upper brain function" kind of storyline?

  5. Zombie stories can be escapist entertainment, but the concept rapidly falls apart under any sort of scrutiny of the physiology behind how they might actually work. Zombies may as well be ghosts or aliens or any other magical boogie-men, But these kinds of monster stories have existed as long as humans have.

    Do the 1% really want the other 99% to be zombies? Personally, I doubt if they even think of it that way. They're too busy thinking of how to get more money because it's never enough. And that has also existed as long as humans have existed.

    I think that seeing the rich as evil oppressors is often an "I don't have everything I want -- so it must be their fault!" over-simplification, and governmental attempts at redistribution of wealth typically only benefit the government by creating new bureaucracy.

    "Wealth" is really an elusive thing -- a rich man who is paranoid of the "zombies" doesn't sound rich to me: The richest man isn't who has the most; it's he who is most satisfied with what he has. And if I'm not content with all the tremendous blessings God has given me, then I'm probably not focusing on the right things.

    Besides, I have also been given the ability to find ways to try and earn more. So, uh,,, Wanna buy a story I've written????


    1. Yes, everybody's having a hard time with this post. The super rich don't WANT to see us as zombies, they just do. We used to be units of production in factories and on assembly lines, but now we're un- or underemployed. You have to remember the 1% are obscenely rich, having 40% of the wealth of this country, and a lot of them are not job creators and they don't make stuff. They manage hedge funds or other ephemeral financial instruments, practicing a sort of monetary alchemy. Economists may split hairs over the difference between wealth and earnings, but all that money in the hands of so few people is not a good thing. And history shows that for those folks, it's never enough.

      I do not like the idea of redistribution, but I love the idea of distributism as propounded by G. K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc in the first part of the 20th century, making working people stakeholders in their work by means other than, but including a living wage. Unbridled lassez faire capitalism does not work and neither does socialism.

      And you are right, Chris, about true wealth ... my treasure isn't monetary, either. But where else, for the purpose of my WIP, am I going to find a smallish group of people with the resources to bring down infrastructure like power grids and communications systems? Hmmmmm?

      (And I fully intend to buy a Chris Fries story someday. You let me know what magazine it's published in, and I'll be all over it like a cheap suit!)

  6. I don't care for zombies. But I think the super-rich probably just see us as a group...I can see that. We aren't people. We're here for their amusement or to support them in whatever they need. We fix their cars, wait on them in restaurants, etc. Sad...but I wouldn't want to be a rich person. It's lonely up there at the top!