Just in time for Halloween comes an interesting take on the zombie phenomenon in America. Pop culture seems to be saturated with zombies in movies, video games and on television with the smash hit AMC series The Walking Dead. The genre had seemingly died years ago after the umpteenth Dawn of the Dead sequel but is back and more popular than ever in 2014 America.
John Whitehead of the civil rights organization The Rutherford Institute has a new piece out on the allure of zombies in America. The piece is entitled “Zombies Are Us: The Walking Dead in the American Police State” from which I excerpt:
Fear and paranoia have become hallmarks of the modern American experience, impacting how we as a nation view the world around us, how we as citizens view each other, and most of all how our government views us.
Nowhere is this epidemic of fear and paranoia more aptly mirrored than in the culture’s fascination with zombies, exacerbated by the hit television series The Walking Dead, in which a small group of Americans attempt to survive in a zombie-ridden, post-apocalyptic world where they’re not only fighting off flesh-eating ghouls but cannibalistic humans.
Zombies have experienced such a surge in popularity in recent years that you don’t have to look very far anymore to find them lurking around every corner: wreaking havoc in movie blockbusters such as World War Z, running for their lives in 5K charity races, battling corsets in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and even putting government agents through their paces in mock military drills arranged by the Dept. of Defense (DOD) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Here’s the curious thing: while zombies may be the personification of our darkest fears, they embody the government’s paranoia about the citizenry as potential threats that need to be monitored, tracked, surveilled, sequestered, deterred, vanquished and rendered impotent. Why else would the government feel the need to monitor our communications, track our movements, criminalize our every action, treat us like suspects, and strip us of any means of defense while equipping its own personnel with an amazing arsenal of weapons?
For years now, the government has been carrying out military training drills with zombies as the enemy. In 2011, the DOD created a 31-page instruction manual for how to protect America from a terrorist attack carried out by zombie forces. In 2012, the CDC released a guide for surviving a zombie plague. That was followed by training drills for members of the military.
Interesting and more than a little bit spooky in that the military and government actually have a game-plan on how to respond to zombie attacks. I had not realized that but it does make sense in a perverse sort of way. You don’t have to be a raving paranoid to believe that the government views certain segments of the populace as enemies because none of this surveillance and police state crap makes sense otherwise.
I have long viewed the zombie fascination as being more of a metaphor for the state of American society in general. One needs only go to a shopping mall or discount retail outlet to see it. I stopped by my local Wal-Mart superstore last week to pick up some beer on the way home and could not help but notice the demeanor and disheveled state of many of the shoppers. They shuffled up and down the aisles of the grocery department loading their squeaky-wheeled carts with cheap food items but many seemed to be afflicted with a thousand yard stare. You can see a certain sense of quiet desperation in these folks and it's saddening and freaky at the same time. President Barack Obama sold the economic snake oil and six years of Federal Reserve market manipulation has worked wonders for a few but reduced large segments of average Americans to casualties bereft of hope.
The ones at Wal-Mart are the lucky ones, they still have two nickels to rub together no matter how broken that their spirits may be in this land of greed, corruption, militarism and woe. The "zombies" are a bit more upper class at the local shopping mall, a garish assortment of expensive retail outlets that peddle the same cheap made in China shit as you find at Wally World at full mark-up. Never mind that some borderline slave is working under brutal, sweatshop work conditions, Americans will eagerly shell out the dough. This is especially so if they can continue to just put in on those little plastic instruments of indentured servitude to the global banking mafia. They are as soul dead as their "walker' counterparts despite their narcissism and inability to stop gibbering into their cellphones.
But for some real American zombie action one needs to only check out the annual Black Friday door buster bonanza sales. The carnage gets worse each year and while we are not quite at the limb-ripping, flesh-eating stage yet there are plenty of people rushing the barricades each Thanksgiving night who will be ready to rumble if the ever time comes.
Zombies are a perfect sign of the times and are now as American as apple pie in Obamastan.