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Mary Vidaurri

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Zombies in America: Why are they so popular now?

Recent years portray a resurgence of zombies in America's pop culture, one that had remained primarily dormant since Romero's "Night of the Living Dead". Now we have "The Walking Dead" and a steady release of zombie films, but what makes them so different from the rest of the B-grade slasher films, why do we embrace the walking corpse?

The zombies we know and love today differ drastically from their Haitian roots, where a man was killed by a bokor, then revived, enslaved and used primarily for manual labor. Not trace of cannibalism, but man's fear of having no say in his actions is still apparent.

Tracing back to the first zombie film "White Zombie in 1932, it was not greatly received, but is now a cult classic. Why?

Then there is Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" 1968, It also received intial bad reviews. The graphic scenes were shocking to the audience and yet it was one of the most profitable films and now greatly acclaimed, why?


Was the film symbolic of violence in Vietnam/ critique of American society in the 60's or reflect the turmoil of Americans each day not knowing if the bomb was going to drop?

Which parallels back to us 2013, what is the cause now? Could it be more political tension like in the 60's or could it be a spiritual aspect we connect to?

Whatever your viewpoint, there is something which drives millions of Americans to the theaters, do we actually believe in possible zombie outbreak, I doubt it. But there are people preparing for such an event, again why?

I'd love to see your opinion on the subject, and if you'll spot some of the other parallels in history.

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      Aug 1 2013: I wish Dracula had been left alone lol, instead we now have teen-supernatural romance vampires covered in glitter.
      There's still a great deal in interest in vampires but they've been romanticized, zombies have been made more horrific. Do we love the brutality as well as beauty? I guess so.
      Thanks
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    Jul 26 2013: Perhaps it's just me, but I think it lies somewhere in the belief that a zombie outbreak isn't all that far-fetched. As you said, there are people who're actually preparing for such a scenario. If you look at it in entertainment alone (film, TV, video-games etc.), you can take it that there have been many different speculations behind what could cause such an event — artificial science, mutated genetics, parasites, a newly-formed or undiscovered disease etc. are often the most common.

    Since a lot of it is often portrayed to do with environmental or man-made causes (as opposed to supernatural enigmas and such), I think we are more inclined to think the idea of zombies isn't really out of touch with what surrounds us in reality. The thought of that alone is both frightening and intriguing, so zombies have become a huge topic of interest nowadays. Naturally, this will also be reflected in our entertainment.

    My two cents.
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    Jul 26 2013: Young people perceive older adults as Zombies. We kill each other, we let stories from long ago dictate our actions and most of us lack common sense. We blindly follow the steps of tradition.
    • Jul 27 2013: You're just making random irrelevant statements.
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        Jul 27 2013: One of my kids was reading your comment over my shoulder..........I did not know he was there.....he walked away from me dragging one foot behind him......I love it when my kids take TED comments and put them to good use.

        Zombie stuff...........LOL
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    Aug 2 2013: It's a identity thing of the new generation so the quality of choice is really doesn't matter. I could have been Nyan the cat if it was more "cool" and "dangerous". It is an expression of "any where but home" notion in motion , a way you set yourself a part from your parent, and will be for your child to you. Any how, buy in large, the notion is relatively weak, it's because of some extremist and economic purposes that make it seem much more powerful that it should be.
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    Aug 1 2013: This is interesting because I've also noticed the same thing. In fact, earlier today I came across a vehicle promoting a new event being held called the zombie mud run. ( http://www.thezombiemudrun.com/ ). I also came across this book at Target. "The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead" by Max Brooks. And there was a zombie attack in that new movie "This Is The End".

    I think there are people who believe in the possibility of a zombie attack. They're probably the same individuals who believe in aliens and Bigfoot.

    Zombies are probably gaining popularity because people want to believe in things that cannot or have not yet been proven (except when that applies to God of course lol). The possibility of it being real may seem intriguing. Especially to those who don't research using valid resources, not that they can validate fables anyway.

    I appreciate the background information you provided. Zombies are just stories. I feel the reason behind their lack of popularity in the past was morality. I assume it was a morality issue. Because cannibalism, as it is today, was frowned upon. The difference from back then and now is how desensitized we've become. If people back then could watch television with us now, they probably wouldn't make it through one commercial.
  • Jul 31 2013: My guess is the cell phones and the spoiling of the current society. It shows (relatively) the value of well-roundness and values of independence as well as interdependence. I guess it just issues a challenge and scenario just like dreams sometimes do.

    That or you're just over thinking it. I think its also just something that was given enough time for society to admire. Thats why it was rejected at first. It was such a dramatic change the first time through that it caused anxiety. As the idea continued people were familiar and not anxious. Now it just got to the point where this idea is cliched for money. Like a lot of things.
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    Jul 27 2013: I think that perhaps maybe the more modern portrayal of zombies makes them easier to relate to. For example in the walking dead they put alot of effort into showing just what they were before they became the monsters. And the characters spend alot of time debating just how they feel about it all. Also perhaps now its reaching a wider audience rather then being directly targeted at teenagers? I think also since the romanticism of Vampires its only natural that perhaps we become also more accepting of other horror type genres for our entertainment?
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    Jul 26 2013: I would say these days there's more awareness of the masses of people on earth, the common man living in great numbers. Zombies usually seem to work in groups, so this is a parallel to the large groups of people in real life.
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    Jul 25 2013: well, zombies are a little closer to us, to us real people, than vampires or Frankenstein monsters, maybe that's why?