Lately, I find myself worrying about the imminent zombie apocalypse.
It began when my partner introduced me to the American Movie Classics (AMC) cable channel series, The Walking Dead (based on the series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard). It is a well-plotted show, with lots of interesting characters, but I have trouble abandoning all reason so that I can enjoy it.
You see, the zombies are dead. They are rotting, decomposing. They have this compulsion to feast on living flesh, but as is established fairly early in the first season, their insides are rotting, too. In other words, they cannot digest the food they eat. It does them not one bit of good to eat the living. The zombies gobble someone up and then the meat just rots inside them.
Anyone with a basic understanding of human biology knows that the process of breaking down food fuels the necessary activities that must go on inside a human body to sustain life or in order for it to function in any way, shape, or form. But these zombies only eat for fun (not profit), they do not breathe, they are, on a number of levels, rotting away. But they do not fall down and decompose entirely. Instead, they run around — and I do mean run: The contemporary zombie doesn’t just lumber after you at a speed that is just slightly faster than a living person crawling on his belly.
I am perturbed by the sheer absurdity of this conception of zombies. In order to watch or enjoy the show, I have to park my intellect and reason by the door.
I went online to see what other people were saying about issues like this, and what I found concerned me on an even more profound level. I encountered, for example, one man explaining that “Zombies can run faster than us, ‘cuz they don’t have to breathe — they never get out of breath.”
It does not seem to bother this person that respiration is necessary to fuel the muscles that enable us to run. No breath equals an extremely short sprint, followed by complete collapse. Anyone who has ever experienced anaphylaxis (which tends to interfere with things like respiration and maintaining blood pressure within a functional range) can tell you that if you do not have adequate blood pressure or breath, well, you sure as hell ain’t gonna run very far.
There are even Web pages that answer pressing questions that may trouble people, such as:
- Are Zombies Real?
- Do you think zombies are a threat?
- If zombies ruled the world, how would I survive?
Other commentators have found other aspects of the series troublesome. Perhaps the most famous gripe is summed up in this photo:
I suppose that I should also worry that people may confuse zombies with the chronically ill. We, too, lumber, occasionally mumble or seem out of it, and are regarded as being little more than a burden on society. I guess we’re not quite the affliction posed by flesh-eating automatons, but I’m sure there are those who might want to argue the point.
But the most troubling aspect of the zombie craze for me, a child of the 60s and the original Star Trek, is that in the era of science fiction, a story had to make some kind of sense, had to possess some kind of internal logic or consistency. Once upon a time we feared having a mouth and being unable to scream. Or that space aliens would disable non-essential electricity for a half hour to get us to listen to their warning about the follies of our ways. Heck, even Gremlins came with specific instructions, and the plot of the movie demonstrated the consequences of ignoring them.
My fear is that the rise of zombies as the monsters du jour reflects the ascendance of polarized and passionate irrationality. Just today I heard that still another Republican (this one an obstetrician-gynecologist!) had stepped forward to assert that, yup, women’s bodies really do have a way to halt rape-related conception. Representative Phil Gringey (R-Ga) did admit that Todd Akin was not entirely correct in his earlier comments on the issue, but then Gringey explained that even in non-rape situations, women may require a glass of wine and an admonition to “Just relax” before they are able to ovulate and then conceive. (That explains why no children were conceived prior to the discovery of fermentation. “No wine, no kids!” as the grape-stomping cavemen used to say.)
To be fair, I shouldn’t just point out the GOP’s irrational ideas. We have liberals who are certain that a major cause of school shootings is violent video games, even though the research that has been done doesn’t really support that conclusion.
And we have NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre, who reduced the complex and difficult subject of how to prevent gun violence to a statement that is a model of oversimplification, namely, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
This is national discourse that is basically on the level of grammar schoolyard taunts. What is the world coming to? I know that that is the lament of every aging generation, but at the moment, it seems like a reasonable question.
- The first and third photos used in this article were created using Make your own Road Construction Sign. Thank you to firstname.lastname@example.org!
- The second photo used in this article was taken from Urlybits. It’s become an Internet meme — I am not sure who created it.
Copyright © 2013 by Candace L. Van Auken. All rights reserved.