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Musing: Why Are Zombies Fun?

July 15, 2014

Having fun yet?

I had an interesting discussion a couple of days ago with a fellow Walking Dead fan and some people who don’t watch it. The chief question: are stories about flesh-eating zombies and the people trying to survive them fun? The answer- absolutely a yes! Here’s why.

At its core, every good flesh-eating zombie story, whether film, TV show, book, comic, or game is this: an implausible horrific situation that is both disaster and predator, which brings out both the best and worst aspects of human nature in the survivors. There are endless variations on this premise, as we keep seeing in every medium there is, and we, the audience, get a front row seat to the drama.

You know that inevitably someone is going to put everyone else in danger by panicking like an idiot, or that some military-type person is going to try to take control of the living humans by force, thereby proving that humans are our own worst enemy. The mindless flesh-eating dead are a force of nature, and the living have to learn how to adapt to a world where the rules have suddenly changed on them.  But there’s a lot of room for different ‘how’s’, and I think that’s what keeps us coming back to watch, read, and play when zombies are involved yet again.

Add to that, the cathartic thrill of watching human-like monsters get their skulls shot, stabbed, and bludgeoned repeatedly. Who doesn’t enjoy that?

Just watch the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead to see what I mean. (It’s in the public domain due to a 1960’s copyright screw up. A quick search will tell you where to legally download it from.)

* * *

On the writing front, I am actually making some forward progress on my Wasteland novel. Slowly, but new material written down  is new material. No zombies in that novel though. It’s just not the direction I want to go with it. I know that may lose me like fifty percent of my target audience right there, but that’ll just have to be the way it is.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2014 12:55 pm

    I think you are right. Zombies are monsters/monstrous to individuals, but to groups of humans thaey are more like natural disasters. It is human failings that mostly lead to survivors’ undoing, not the zombie’s directly.


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