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The Walking Dead: Zombies – the Virus Within
So Why are Zombies So on point in Pop Culture?
Zombies are the monster du jour in our population. They are the creature that moans under your bed and needs an axe through its forhead something bad. But why are these brain-loving creatures capturing the zeitgeist of current culture?
Monsters have always scared us, but from era to era the type of monster that scares of changes. In our current culture disease is the real bogeyman. People look at the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa or the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria and they get scared. Really scared. Zombies are a representation of those viruses, but they are fantasy versions safe enough to allow ourselves to be scared by without admitting to our real fears.
The Walking Dead
Of course the big daddy of zombie shows right now is The Walking Dead who's fifth season opens on October 12th. Many a zombie fan is counting down until that day – if just to find out how Rick and company get out of that dang railroad car.
AMC, The Walking Dead's home network, have already greenlighted a pilot for a spinoff of The Walking Dead. It will take place in the same zombie-plagued universe, but we don't know if it will involve any characters from the original show or the comic books that started the franchise.
What Other Fears Have Been Reflected In Pop Culture?
There have been many, but one of the most rampant was the fear of nuclear annhialation during the the 1950s – the era of “Stop, drop, and roll.” During that time we saw movies such as Them! A movie about giant radioactive ants. And who could forget Godzilla, another giant irradiated monster bent on destroying Tokyo. A whole legion of irradiated monster flicks joined its ranks.
Aliens are another fear that has had its day in pop culture. In 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still an alien threatened to destroy us all unless we changed our ways. It Came From Outer Space debuted in 1953 and featured aliens that were hard to detect but up to no good.
In 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers – a super creepy movie you should have someone to cuddle up to when you see it – aliens land on Earth in the form of plants. But these plants take over your body and turn you into a mindless being if you fall asleep near them. Note that this movie both fears aliens and the Soviets. The fear of losing our freedom was very up front in our culture when the movie debuted.
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So, Let the Moaning of the Undead Continue
Sure they're creepy. They may eve make you hide behind the couch, keep a bat by your bed, or have nightmares (not that I'm saying I would do any of those things). But they're a lot of fun to watch. And part of that reason is that watching stragglers on TV confront the zombie menace safely allows us to confront our own fears about a viral menace that could be lurking around the corner.
Walking Dead Season 5 Trailer
© 2014 Teeuwynn Woodruff