There are many opinions on why the recent zombie fad has taken such a pop-culture foothold. The blogosphere offers profound theories suggesting that zombies personify such intangibles as humanity’s lack of spirituality, political disenfranchisement, and inability to face mortality.
Well, I think all that is overblown. I believe the zombie phenomenon is based on something much simpler and primitive – like that we all, to some degree or another, want to hit each other over the heads with hammers and eat peoples’ faces off. The “zombie-made-me-do-it” excuse offers the perfect cop-out.
While contemplating my own thoughts on the zombie craze – a single-sided skull session inspired by a commercial for a zombie romance (wha?) movie called Warm Bodies – it dawned of the dead on me that we shouldn’t fear the stereotypical zombie of the horror or (apparently, now) romantic comedy genres. Our real enemy is what I call the “creative zombie.” No, this is not an echelon of undead with exceptional artistic talents or outside-of-the-box thinking skills. Quite the opposite: they are fleshy vessels for ideas which should be long dead. Unlike traditional zombies, their pound of flesh is not physical; they kill all forms of progress and breed mediocrity. These automatons are not things of nightmares or legends...they walk among us. In fact, the creative zombie is even more insipid than its traditional counterpart because instead of wearing evidence of its cannibalistic nature on its tattered sleeve, they hide it. Under well-pressed clothes. Furthermore, in contrast to the zombies in the movies, the creative zombie survives at the end. More often than not, they don’t just survive, they triumph.
I’ve taken some downtime this week. And, though I’m not much of a TV-watcher, I’ve caught myself getting sucked in to some pretty mindless programming. And TV, of course, is one of the most powerful tools of the creative zombie.
One particularly stupid show I found myself glued to yesterday was a program on H2 called Counting Cars. It’s an absolutely absurd reality show about some guy who, oddly enough, does not enumerate automobiles. No. It centers around a restoration/kustomization/whatever shop owned by a fella who calls himself “The Count” despite his name being Danny and his ancestry comprising of no clear royal lineage. (In a bizarre coincidence, this nickname originates from his stint as a B-horror movie host on a network TV station.)
I have no idea why this show is on the History Channel except that it is a spinoff of another show that was already on the History Channel and the creative zombie craves convenience. I mean, The Count has absolutely nothing in common with H2 staples Hitler or Genghis Khan. Well…I guess all three had a penchant for accessorizing with skull motifs.
Anyway, I suppose the reason I am harping on this particular show – which, in all fairness isn’t the worst program on TV – is that it coughs creative zombie-ism from every exhaust pipe. The show is unoriginal, not particularly entertaining, and the personalities aren’t compelling in the least. Yet it keeps on comin’ atcha with the unrelenting brute force only a zombie can wield: sucking us in, one minute at a time, making our minds as dull and useless as the show’s premise. And I am ashamed, because I fell for it.
Can I use the “zombie-made-me-do-it” excuse just this once?
During a portion of the show where the zombie grip loosened (I think it was when one guy tricked another into sitting in a pool of lotion through some cunning involving a prank phone call), I actually began to thumb through the stack of reading material I’ve been meaning to tackle…but was stopped.
What is that? The Count made a regulation pool table out of a Ranchero? Sonofabitch…it has skulls on it!
The Count: 1; the written word: 0.
See? The creative zombie is so stealthy in its might that it transcends the heavy-handed tactics of the traditional zombie. With the power of the TV, they don’t even need strength to breach our homes. They’re invited in with a click of a remote control. The only strength needed is that which is necessary for us who are still living to pry our eyes from the screen, put down the remote, and walk away.
We can do this. Don’t let them win.