the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Zombie Nation: A Political Virus in the Walking Dead Among Us

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Good-bye, vampires. We have become a zombie nation.

And not just because of the millions of anti-depressants prescribed each year by doctors. Zombies, the flesh-eating, brain-hungry ghouls, tap into a national sentiment of impending doom and isolation.

Zombies are currently red hot and everywhere. The undead have recently conquered television, books, movies, video games and the Internet. Zombie walks frequently occur across the country. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” has been re-written to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Even George Romero’s 1968 zombie classic, “Night of the Living Dead,” has recently been turned into an interactive YouTube game.

For the last few years, sexy, smart vampires who quote poetry and like rock music have wooed teen girls and boys along with middle-aged women longing for a kiss from “Twilight’s” beautiful Edward Cullen. “Twilight” was the biggest best-selling book in 2008.

But such gauzy Gothic romance, with dashing vampires dancing in our dreams, has vanished. Enter mindless, horrifying corpses that remind us of our impending doom and isolation.

The apocalypse is right around the corner. Isolation is better than uniting. Grab your gun, your wife, your kids because they’re coming to get you. Every man, woman and child for himself. Forget about your neighbors. Besides, they probably aren’t on the same side of the political zombie DMZ anyway.

Conservatives feel attacked by liberal zombies like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who devour the freedoms, which were set up by the Founding Fathers. After this month’s midterm elections, liberals think the red symbolizes the blood and brains of progressives, and there could be more gore coming in 2012. Then there’s Sarah Palin, who has become Queen Zombie with a loyal army that defends her, her family and her Mama Grizzlies.

Everyone is lying. They all want domination. No one can be trusted. We’ve been there before as a country.

When “Night of the Living Dead” premiered in October 1968, the country was at a critical stage. Gloom surrounded everything. It had already been a dismal decade — John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam war – leading into that year.

In January 1968, the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive. On March 31, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not run for reelection. Four days later, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. Riots erupted. In June, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles. War protests broke out frequently. Unrest ruled. By the end of the year, zombies had invaded the country. As Robert Ebert wrote about 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead:”

“The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying… It’s hard to remember what sort of effect this movie might have had on you when you were six or seven. But try to remember. At that age, kids take the events on the screen seriously, and they identify fiercely with the hero. When the hero is killed, that’s not an unhappy ending but a tragic one: Nobody got out alive. It’s just over, that’s all.”

Flash forward to 2010. The country is still waging two wars. Citizens have lost faith in their government and leaders. The economy is unstable. Terrorists are looming in the shadows. Countries such as Chile and Haiti, where the legend of zombies thrive in voodoo, are destroyed by catastrophic natural disasters. Even flying to an exotic locale for escape is tainted by fear as the TSA, checking every nook and cranny of the body, reminds everyone of more fear. It sounds like a script for a horror movie. Next line: An unknown creature is coming to get us. And it’s not as sexy as a vampire.

No, zombies are toxic, gritty and gory with exposed bone and hanging flesh. They wear tatters instead of Gothic romantic frills or leather jackets. Zombies don’t quote the Greek philosophers and Percy Bysshe Shelley. They grunt and moan. While vampires live in castles and mansions, zombies live in the grave, reminding us of our ultimate destination.

President George W. Bush preached that he was a uniter not a divider. That mantra didn’t exactly resonate. Obama won his campaign with too much promise of bringing sunshine into the country once he hit the Oval Office. Everyone could feel warm and cuddly like a Care Bear once again. That’s not working so well for him either.

Jon Stewart’s recent “Restore Sanity and/or Fear” rally may have been right on the mark. In AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” a new show about zombies, of course, desperation for survival pushes many of the characters to the brink of insanity. As a country, we may not be far from that.

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Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm

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