Posts Tagged ‘Fear itslef’


Back in the before times, there was a movie called Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

For many, it was just this creepy movie about some alien race taking over by replacing us, one by one, with duplicate, alien versions.  Many also saw it as allegorical for the prevailing cold war mentality of the time.  We were faced with the daily threat of the ideological opposition of a strange and mysterious force – Communism and the countries that espoused it’s evil philosophy of equality and social and financial equity.  Scary, right?

The movies of the day reflected our fear.  They were filled not only with sinister aliens, but dastardly villains with mildly German accents and murky Anti-American agendas.  In each, outside forces sought to despoil the American dream.  Everything from The Day the Earth Stood Still to North by Northwest, make a case for the theory.

So, what’s up with all the zombies?

Movies, TV shows, even poor Jane Austen are being overrun by hoards of the living dead.  I don’t really get zombies.  I like Bond Villains.  Brilliant, driven, lots to say.  But zombies? Mindless eating machines motivated only by the basest and most obvious desires.  Dullsville.

I was hiding out from the annual Halloween invasion of my neighborhood last weekend.  Something like a half million people in masks show up each year to take over the small town in the middle of Los Angeles where I live.  I’ve never minded standing in front of a crowd but I’ve never been a big fan of being part of one.  It may just be that I’m short and can’t see where I am when I’m surrounded by a crowd, but it freaks me out.  Also, I’ve done enough acting that costume and makeup sounds like work to me.  So, on Halloween I stock up on can goods and hide out in my apartment till the crowd subsides or someone at least offers me scale and a good script.

In honor of my annual siege, I Tivoed a lot of scary movies.  Some were recent and so they had zombies in them.  I didn’t really enjoy them much.  I did a fair amount of “speed watching” which involves just leaving the playback in fast-forward mode until I see something that looks like it might advance any plot there might be.  I watch that at normal speed, backing up, if necessary to pick up any salient details, and then back to “speed watch.”

I was pretty bored.  Since the film makers hadn’t bothered to give me anything to think about, I started thinking about my question:  What’s with the zombies? Why do so many current films and books and TV shows include zombies, the dullest and least nuanced of villains?

Then it hit me.

We have a new common enemy.  It’s not Osama.  We don’t even seem interested in catching him anymore.  And there’s the vague threat of terrorism that’s given rise to an increase of Muslim hatred, but anti-semite prejudice isn’t really anything new.  Our new enemy is us.  We hate each other.  The evil empire of the east has been replaced by open contempt and disrespect for one another.  This past political campaign was the most uncivil I’ve ever seen.  It was even worse than the one before.

There are whole networks devoted to hating and saying the most vicious things possible about those who disagree with them.  People are taking guns to appearances by the President.  We’ve stopped calling the President the President, referring to him simply as Bush or Obama.  The airwaves are clogged with reality shows that allow us to look down on and celebrate the humiliation of others.

We have met enemy and it is us.

Without a common outside threat, we have come to hate each other.  Increasingly polarized, we trust and care about one another less and less.  Health care? Who wants to offer aid and comfort to the enemy? We lock our doors, get into our armored SUV tanks and protect ourselves from the evil that surrounds, threatens and looks just like us.

Sounds like the people in a zombie picture to me.

What zombie pictures offer is the chance to blow the heads off the mindless idiots without consequence.  It is a chance to enjoy unspeakable violence against people who are otherwise our neighbors and fellow citizens.  Their mindless, single minded drive for something that we find repellent and threatening justifies the most extreme reprisals.

That makes all of us, someone else’s zombie.  I wonder if we will ever be able to evolve past the need for a common enemy.  I grew up in the 60’s and though the cold war wasn’t over, it seemed to me as though there was a rise in the unifying desire for the common good.

I wonder if that’s what’s next? Can we replace the need for a common enemy to a desire for the common good as what unites us?

I hope so.  I’m really sick of all the zombies.


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