Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jumping the Undead Shark

Well, hello there. Yeah, guess it has been a while, and the blog was starting to resemble one of those abandoned houses Time Magazine is writing about – you know, not taken down, but not maintained, just a withered reminder of the glory that once was and we all hope could return.

So in that spirit, and appropriate to the upcoming holiday, the topic at hand for this post is: zombies.

I had set out to write this entry after reading about the Night of the Stripping Dead, but before I could, I encountered last week’s Savage Love article, which featured a question form a reader regarding the ethic of – you guessed it – zombie sex (you’ll have to scroll down for it).

In case you missed that, someone wrote to a national sex columnist to get advice on the morality of having sexual intercourse with the living dead.

Seriously, people.

All of this reinforces a question I’ve been asking myself lately: has the zombie phenomenon hit its peak?

Of course, a lot of this ties into the release of the movie Zombieland – which, despite its use of the modern running zombie is hilarious and worth seeing. Interestingly, it seems that whoever did the marketing for that movie knew their stuff, as I’ve seen the movie promoted by several Zombie Walk groups (including

Detroit’s own). And with AMC producing a televised version of Image Comics’ series The Walking Dead, it seems the march of the pop culture undead is going to be a hard to put down as the monsters themselves. (In this case it may not be a bad thing, since if the show turns out even half as good as the book, it’ll be one of the best series on TV). And lest we forget, while you’re waiting for the show you can always read some zombiefied Jane Austen.

Yes, everywhere you look, there be zombies.

But why does there seem to be this tendency of late to turn everything into a phenomenon anyway? Time was, you could be into pirates or ninjas or robots or primates or whatever it was, and it wasn’t a big deal, it was just what you were into. Mainly because you were ten, and ninjas were the baddest-ass thing you’d ever heard of in your entire decade-long life. But now, it doesn’t seem to be enough to just like, say, pirates. You have to be “OMG!! Pirates!!!” Everything becomes this grand statement pop cultural identity.

To further illustrate this, I give you a prime example: bacon. Once it was simply fried pig flesh that many people enjoyed at meals. Then came Baconnaise, and all its offshoots. Then the April Fool’s Day joke Bacon Lube, which proved so popular it became a real item. There are bacon t-shirts. I’ve seen a Beer and Bacon happy hour at some hipster bar. That thing that used to be just to make you stop being hungry? It’s now something you show off to demonstrate your hipness.

This could be a result of the constant barrage of cultural input we get. If you’re some artist or Hollywood executive trying to cut through the endless sea of stimuli to get your product/creation/message across, and you see some wave that people are actually paying attention to (especially if those people are in your target demographic), well, wouldn’t you try to ride it as far as you could?

Or maybe it’s just that I’m not used to the things I like being mainstream. It’s kind of like watching a band go from playing dive bars to packing stadiums – you’re happy for them, but it’s just not the same. Then you start saying how they’re not as good anymore, and anyway none of the new fans get the band like you do.

But I digress…

Now the question is, with vampires making a comeback, will the zombie be pushed out of the undead spotlight? After all, what could possibly be a bigger draw than a bunch of shuffling, rotting corpses?

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