Zombies in Society
A Reflection of Societal Ills?
Zombies are prevalent everywhere in our society today. We see them in movies, on television, in comic books and on the internet. A quick search on Google for the word “zombie” will reveal 166 million zombie related websites (Google, Inc, 2013) and a search for “zombies sociology” in our own article section in Globe University’s online library returns 67 results through the EBSCOhost search (EBSCO, 2013). This shows that the idea and concepts of zombies have infiltrated our society. While doing research for a topic I came across and article titled “Zombies Rising” and decided to focus on this article for further sociological study. The article references the origin of zombies which is religious in nature; it also references how zombies can be used as social commentary when the populace is discontent with the status quo. This article also talks about how zombies are everywhere in our media and as we have learned in class media does often influence our society. After reviewing this article, I found many related concepts to our class and the text book.
The first topic the article addresses is the way that zombies have found themselves in our culture. According to the article, “A darker counter-culture of devotees is gaining ground. It revolves around zombies, the undead, cadaverous creatures with no consciousness, who exist solely to cannibalize -- preferably human brains.” (McConahey, 2010) The article explains the history of zombies to some extent which I found very fascinating. According to the article zombies began as part of West African culture where sorcerers could turn people into zombie slaves with no will of their own. (McConahey, 2010) Further research reveals that in the dictionary a zombie is defined as an "animated corpse resurrected by mystical means, such as witchcraft." (Oxford English Dictionary, 1998) This is the more common depiction we see in television programs and movies, this depiction is frightening and even more so when you fathom the possibility a debilitating disease could affect our lives in such a manner. We have learned that health care and class are directly related, as per our text, “People with good incomes or with good medical care able to choose their own doctors and pay for whatever treatment and medications are prescribed.” (Henslin, 2013)
The current depiction of zombies is that of something that used to be human but no longer is, with a hunger for human flesh. I think this is a reference to how our society has become a mass that will blindly follow our leadership, whether religious or governmental. The zombies are unable to think on their own and people en masse are also unable to think for themselves. The individual zombie is not scary; according to the article “You don't have very much to worry about from a single lumbering zombie. You can always run away from it. They become scary in multitudes. There's something primal about that." (McConahey, 2010) There is something deep seated in each of us that makes us want to fit in and keep the status quo. We see things happen to people who against society and the outcomes are not usually favorable.
I personally believe that the cultural obsession with zombies is deeper than just a cheap thrill; I think people are concerned with health care, losing themselves, and anarchy. All of these themes are represented in zombie movies. As Meg McConahey points out in the article, “A whole genre
of zombie entertainment is spreading, from low-budget movies (Netflix offers more than 100 titles), zombie books, online forums and websites to video and iPhone games, make-up and a cascade of zombie music like Emilie Autumn's "Dead is the New Alive" and "Brain Eaters" by The Misfits. (McConahey, 2010).
I think this spread of zombies in to our lives and media shows that society as a whole is discontent and that they fear sudden changes because such things can cause our whole societal structure to collapse. Imagine if we really had to live in a survival of the fittest society where it didn’t matter how much money you had or where your family was from. What if the only thing that mattered was your ability to live through the night?