Invasion of the Zombies

This was intended to be a comment on Bryan Alexander’s awesome post yesterday “Zombies Invade the Mainstream, Please Remain Calm.” Reading Bryan as he works through the cultural meanings of the undead is something I have been doing for years, Infocult is blogging with singleness of purpose at its very best, and is for me the gold standard for marrying the immediate cultural zeitgeist with the gothic.  And, truth be told, this post is just one example of many gems that I consume regularly without too much fanfare because he is so consistent and so damn good. But, this one is worth a raving comment and even a blog post because he works through current zombie fever that’s upon us at some length, going from Near Dark to White Zombie, and along the way pulling in Shaun of the Dead, Marx and Voltaire—it’s classic Infocult genius. Go read it.  And then if you want some zombified mediocrity, read my comment below, which was repudiated by typepad with an error message “We’re sorry, we cannot accept this data.” Zombie blogging platform? 🙂

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Bryan,

You have outdone yourself here, from Near Dark to White Zombie! You rule, I also love the marriage of vampire and zombies you come up with when ending with White Zombie, this is an important realization, and the way the Bela Lugosi’s eyes are disembodied in White Zombie really suggests him as a sorcerer/vampire. Bravo!

And when you look at some clips from White Zombie here and here the question of the laboring zombies under the calculating capital vampires is right on. I think that is the metaphor Marx was looking for after framing capital as vampyric, labor as being zombified. Two species of the undead that are in many ways in struggle.

I was thinking about zombies as they related to slavery lately, and there is a good quote from Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys that focusing the identity of a zombie within the eyes:
‘She have eyes like zombie and you have eyes like zombie too. Why you won’t look at me.’

In fact, the Wide Sargasso Sea is an excellent reading of the implications of slavery, colonization, and post-colonial identities as in many ways zombified by structures of power and capital. Making the locus of the zombie very much within the very system, the outbreak being a larger sign some kind of dangerous self-awareness the zombies come to of their own enslavement. A moment of compassion and recognition that I have only seen in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead when the Zombie in the baseball outfit and the women on the other side of the glass in a mall store seem to have a moment of wherein they realize they are made of the same stuff.

In closing, I love the way you frame White Zombie as an alternative way to look at all this, and the common idea of the eyes as telling and symbolic opens up some very interesting threads yet again as to how we are made to see and interpret this current phenomenon.

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4 Responses to Invasion of the Zombies

  1. Steven Egan says:

    Okay, somebody has to ask; What’s next, Obama dressed as Van Hellsing? Zombies, vampires and other undead and monsters in the system beware? If he starts going after these people and institutions, I’d say it’s a fitting analogy.

    I think it makes sense to have the vampires as the ones responsible for at least some of the zombies. First you have the slow moving ones that just follow orders without much individual thought, for whatever reason it be. Then there are the faster moving ones that are something like failed vampires as seen in the first Blade movie, minds consumed by appetite. Plus, this even allows for the non-evil vampires as suppressing bad behaviors, using coping measures or as dhamipr (half-vampires). Dhampir are considered the ultimate vampire hunters by some sources.

  2. Brad says:

    I remember giving a department presentation on Wide Sargasso Sea last spring that delved a tidbit into this. Really awesome stuff, & a great tie-in. You can even take it back to Jane Eyre (duh) & the undead. Strange mysticisms!

  3. It’s interesting that the current issue of The Journal of Improbable Research is partially dedicated to zombies as well! The media are definitely playing up a theme here and using it quite well.

    I’m disappointed that the angle of the administration’s god-like acts of raising the dead hasn’t been exploited as well. From Obama’s Frankenstein-esque claim that his administration is the only thing protecting banks from mobs with pitchforks to deciding which banks are going to be re-born or left dead, it’s well worth looking at!

    Finally, as the administration ushers GM to the grave, I’m reminded of a oft quoted monologue from “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”..which could easily be re-tooled for today!

  4. ugh…..WP stripped the embed code!!!

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