Fun of the Zombie Apocalypse

I walk into work on Sunday. This was before the stores opened. I arrive at the store I’m at and I call the store and the supervisor let me in. Not too long ago I was wandering around the mall.

I’m at the entrance of McAllister Place. There are only a few cars in the parking areas around the mall. But they are few and far between. Sparsely parked. There’s nothing to hear. Not even the wind. Images of desolate areas can have paper flying around, dragging its bottom across the ground as wind blows. Not here. I open the the door and go in. The silence from outside continues on the inside. The stores I walk past are empty; closed and some of the gate-things are chained to the walls inside the stores. No radio station is playing. I just hear me walking inside the mall when it feels empty.

There’s a thought in my head as I make my walk. What if the beginning of the zombie apocalypse was like this? The environment’s like everyone’s raptured and there’s no one to bother me. And the stores are empty. Smiley face emoji. No obviously I won’t steal. But that’s because there’s a high chance of me getting caught as I do that hence why I won’t steal. But what if almost everyone in Saint John is gone or zombified? I guess I’ll steal to my heart’s content.

When I got into the course I thought it’ll be reading about bleak stuff but then I read Pride and Prejudice Zombies and zombies don’t have to be all depressing and stuff. I think there can be fun in the zombie apocalypse.

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“High Culture” and “Low Culture” and Dismissal of “Low Culture”

In light of the presentation that went on longer than I expected I thought about my own discussion question. Why do many people in society have this “high culture”/”low culture” divide? I think a lot of it has to do with nostalgia. “High culture” often is old. The older I’ll admit I’m getting a bit nostalgic. However I’ll also admit that, “nostalgia is one hell of a drug”. It’s the drug that fuels people’s desire for the past hence why they dismiss pop culture which often is more recent and temporary. On the other hand, in this view, “high culture” as Dr. Jones contains works that are considered part of the”eternal canon”. In short I think many people dismiss pop culture because there’s this view that the past is good and the end is nigh.

Firstly humans have a tendency to dismiss the unknown and stick to what’s familiar. Secondly humans generally also are family-oriented to an extent. People tend to want to maintain some sort of connection to their family whether it’s their immediate family or supposed ancestry going to many generations ago. Thirdly because of all the first 2 reasons I think nostalgia is one reason why “low culture” gets dismissed.

Now why do I disagree with the “high culture”/”low culture” divide? Because I think this arbitrary division has no solid foundation because what’s considered good changes. On the topic of Austen and Zombies Jane Austen was lucky to have her work be well-received to an extent a couple of decades after her death.

The first reason what’s considered “good” depends on which era people are in. Most people are not as lucky as Austen was to have her work well-received early. However many classic figures had works that were not considered classics until later. One example is Shakespeare. Thus I think “Pride and Prejudice Zombies” has a good idea in concept as someone mentioned. I don’t see it as a mix of “high culture” and “pop culture” but rather simply a novel with zombies.

Continuation from Previous Post

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I was sick from last week up until this Wednesday so I haven’t had time to post. One way “Zone One”  manages to be sad at times is the zombies’ subconscious attachment to places.

One passage that’s effective at least for me is in… I think the character is Mark. And he’s thinking of the straggler’s previous lives. Perhaps they did have one and they’re more human than they appear. They were just unlucky to get infected: “he wondered if they chose these places or if the places chose them” (Whitehead 196). Maybe they were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But he continues his train of thought and thinks of a possible origin of one straggler he encountered. “He thought of the first straggler, standing in the field with his stupid kite. The easy narrative held is that he played there as a kid, oblivious to the things that made him stumble.” (Whitehead 196). The narrator then speculates perhaps there are specific memories attached to the infected areas. Maybe a straggler prefers a certain area because he or she got married there. This suggests the stragglers are more human than they appear since they are subconsciously attached to areas that they have fond memories of. This thought is quite eerie but also sad to me.

For me at least I tend to dismiss the humanness of non-monster zombies. I remember the last time I played a zombie game, “Killing Floor 2”, I died a couple of times and got mad at the zombies. I wanted to respawn quickly so I could kill them. Maybe even kill them slowly for revenge. They have a useless existence only consisting of hunting people for no good reason and to kill me a couple of times. “Zone One” makes me think there’s more to many zombies than them being mindless brain eaters. Zombies are quite dire and tragic humanoid creatures.

The Difference in Opinion of the Readability of “Zone One”

So we took a while to start last week’s class because Dr. Jones couldn’t get the projector to work. And… Bethany, I think that’s her name, tried but the thing wouldn’t budge! If this happened during the apocalypse we’d be scared! An electronic wouldn’t work! We’re screwed! But then two tech guys arrived at the door! Dr. Jones looks at the door, her pupils dilated and scans the identity of those shadowed figures. They’re people. We’re all good!

But that short narrative aside someone’s response to “Zone One” was surprising to me. She says the novel is quite “dry”. If memory serves me right I think she thinks “Feed” is also bland. That I can agree with but I’m surprised someone doesn’t like either. “Zone One” is interesting to me and I agree with a review saying this zombie novel is “sad”. I haven’t finished Zone One yet but from what I’ve read so far it is a “sad” novel. I can understand why “Feed” is hard for many people to like because of how bland it is. But I’m intrigued by how someone with that opinion thinks “Zone One” isn’t captivating enough to enjoy.

Thoughts on “I am Legend”

Because of the required viewing of this film adaptation and the reveal of Will Smith’s portrayal of the Genie in the upcoming “Aladdin” remake I’ve been thinking of the 2007 film adaptation of “I am Legend”. I don’t like it. In fact it gets worse with each viewing. I understand that people have different tastes and preferences. However, for me at least, I think for a film adaptation there are several routes that can be taken: only adapt the name, follow extremely closely or take bits from the source material and create a new work updated for contemporary audiences.

Unfortunately this film adaptation chooses to the first route and butchers the “I am Legend” story. Without going into too much detail, because this film has been torn apart numerous times, one of the biggest offences from the movie has to be the ending and the atmosphere. The ending is infuriating to say the least. Many understandings of the ending center around Robert realizing he’s the monster and that’s the reason for his OD. At the end of the novel the reader sees the tables turn and he becomes a villain to the vampires.

The 2007 film sprinkles a little bit of this with a female vampire test subject present. However it’s so downplayed and the movie doesn’t linger on any aspect of the novella at all except for survival. The film’s ending is similar to the novella in that the protagonist dies but the film removes any meaning of why he does this. Will Smith’s portrayal simply has him sacrifice himself to save the world. What a butchering of the “I am Legend” story! So here we have a character who not only sees the vampires as evil but doesn’t experience an epiphany!

On the other hand the alternate ending is much better. While there’s no protagonist dying at least he recognizes that he’s a monster to the monsters and allows the vampires to retrieve one of their members. Too bad this ending isn’t the official one.

The second thing I don’t like about this movie is the atmosphere. This film decides to be like 99.999% of “horror” movies we’ve seen over the past 20 years where the only “scary” stuff that happens is loud jump scare. Character walks through a poorly-lit area that attempts to create scary atmosphere but simply annoys the viewer since he or she knows what’s gonna happen. The lighting is non-existent. The only thing we can hear is water dripping and other ambient noises. Within a couple seconds of walking all noise drowns out. BAAAAAAHHHHHHH! Something pops out with an ear-piercingly loud sound that isn’t scary but only annoying to the viewer. One of the reasons why the novella is enticing to read is that is really makes you think about what Robert’s gonna do. You flip the pages quickly because you have to learn about the world’s state and the disease’s backstory.

For some reason I can’t put my finger on why all of those aspects are completely lacking in the film. During the most recent viewing I think I figured out why. The film doesn’t want to exist. It feels like it has to speed to the ending and quickly end so it’s over. Because of this there’s no time for immersion in the film’s world or thought-provoking to this film. I understand that it’s adapting a novella and being quickly-paced matches that aspect from the novella.

However not everything translates well from page to screen. I would have been fine with a longer film instead of something that’s 1 hour and 47 minutes… with the credits. Transformers: Age of Extinction is an hour longer than that and is more entertaining. This film would have benefited from a longer length to flesh out the character and the world more. Instead it’s simply Will Smith driving and walking and talking to himself and Sam and then he dies. What a world he inhabits. So immersive. What a way to completely botch the easiest thing for a film to do which is to pull the viewer into its world.

Defining a Zombie

What do I picture when I think of a zombie? In the dark evening everything’s quiet. People drive by a cemetery and when the last driver in that wave of cars is past… RARWH! A hand pops out from below a tombstone. It breaks the ground and climbs out of its coffin. An undead corpse then slowly makes its way to the streets. It stops at a sidewalk and sees a lonely person sitting on a porch. Having an intense desire for human brains or flesh the zombie walks to the person and eats him or her.

Me being a zombie-n00b I have very little experience with the undead. However based on my understanding from pop culture I’d define a zombie as an undead human corpse. It’s only brain functions are to provide mobility to satisfy its need to eat people. It has no consciousness other than needing to feed. I know this is a very basic definition and there are hordes of zombie fans tearing this definition apart.

I am aware of modern zombies being more complicated than this. For example I’ve seen the movie “Warm Bodies” which is based on the book of the same name. I’ve forgotten everything that happens but it’s an example of zombies being more than mindless eaters who have no thoughts or feelings. So perhaps a zombie shouldn’t be defined so specifically and have a broad definition that’s a living breathing (no pun intended) one. A definition that can change with the times. Is there a way to define zombies to include all sorts of zombies under the same definition? Perhaps there’s a broad definition is shared by all kinds of zombies: zombies are formerly people but dead on the inside and possibly outside as well and have physical characteristics to reflect this.

In the readings from “The Penguin Book of the Undead” there seems to be a common theme in old European stories about the undead: being dead on the inside figuratively. For example in the “Blackend Hearts of Stapenhill” the peasants are presumabely disillusioned with their current lifestyle. They probably don’t like living under rules and obligations from organized religion 24/7. They get their wish by being living corpses for a short time. One tale in “Rampaging Revenants” has a man become ill from a disease shortly after he catches his wife in the act of a sexual affair. I think zombies represent people who lose all hope to live and thus are dead inside. If people are inflicted with an illness and can spread it to others, for example diseases from a nuclear fallout, they lose all will to live.

How can modern fiction capture this metaphor? I’ve heard modern zombies can represent consumers in modern capitalism. Society tells them to get an education and work. However their job is simply a way to obtain money. Money is used to buy loads of goods and services. The life of a person in a capitalist society is to work all the time and time off is to be spent purchasing items. Rince and repeat. This cycle of consumerism leaves many people feeling empty in life. That they don’t have a purpose or reason to exist beyond buying things. And perhaps zombies created via infections can represent people who feel disillusioned with life as well. So even though they’re not corpses they’re dead inside as well. Even though modern fiction can make zombies more complex they can share this idea that zombies are dead: literally and/or metaphorically.

So to sum up I can define a zombie as a living corpse; an actual dead corpse or not. It does not have to be brain dead in the sense that it only exists to eat brains but it probably doesn’t see a purpose in functioning like a non-zombie person does.