I have a secret: I don’t actually believe there will be a zombie apocalypse. Not soon, not ever.
I know, I know, gasp in horror. How dare she?! What a fool! And some of you are rolling your eyes. But I felt I had to clarify, because there are people, casually known as “preppers” who think some kind of doomsday scenario (even extending to zombies, because why the hell not?) is not only possible but imminent.
I’d guess that most people who enjoy zombies and even go so far as to prepare for a “zombie apocalypse” aren’t actually of this sort. I mean, there are bunches of people running away from folks in makeup, discussing their plans for survival, and going to see zombie movies. Even the CDC got in on it. Basically, what’s so appealing about staggering, rotting corpses?
- Relentless- Unlike other monsters, zombies don’t stop until they completely rot and fall away. Vampires have to hide from sunlight. Mummies can be locked in tombs. Werewolves only come out during full moons. Trolls stick around bridges. But a zombie can just keep going, regardless of the circumstances. They don’t need to rest or hide or wait for ideal circumstances, they just keep coming. Sure, you can lock them in a closet, but they’ll eventually break out, given enough time. That’s scary in an entirely different way.
- It’s Nothing Personal- Zombies are usually mysteriously infected, like a disease and when they’re contaminated, they lose mental capacity. This means that they can chase anybody, not just the big-breasted blonde girls who wind up in the woods in the middle of the night; not just the bad guys who deserve righteous punishment; not just the one who disturbed the mummy’s tomb. With zombies, you could be moving right along, minding your own business, when *bam* monsters. That’s pretty unique.
- No One to Blame-Similarly, because of the nature of the problem, pointing fingers would be totally useless. There’s no one who lit the black candle, no Frankenstein who built the monster. It just is. And by the time it is, it’s probably too late to start blaming anyone anyway.
- Contagious- Because of the way zombieism spreads (acting much like a disease), it’s hard to slow down or even isolate it. This makes it really interesting for the folks who actually care about preventing infection (that’s what got the CDC interested, after all). But it’s interesting for the rest of us because it means you have no idea who could be next. It could be anyone–there’s really no way to protect yourself against that kind of threat.
- Wide-Ranging Problems– Various apocalyptic circumstances will create a cascade of problems, but the zombie question is unique in that it will eventually directly impact just about everything. As the zombie outbreak spreads, every part of modern life will slowly be destroyed. There won’t be an obvious “safe place.” We’ll have to work together to build safe spaces, and good luck with that.
- Like Life- We like to think we’re all individuals, but in reality, humans are really big on herd behavior. In short, a lot of the time, we act like zombies. Sometimes that feels like a problem, like we’re all trapped in this mindless existence, that it’s too late, we’re already IN the zombie story and, bad news guys, we’re the monsters. I think that’s the biggest appeal here, overall: zombies provide killer social commentary.
- Fun- Also, it’s just fun to pretend. And zombies provide a pretty good way to talk about things that are scary while keeping a bit of levity, because everyone knows there won’t really be an apocalypse.