the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Posts Tagged ‘twilight

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.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Vampire Love Bites and Lady Gaga Eyes: Teen Trends Terrify Parents

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I used to think a teenager’s hickey was a mark of young passion: the kind that went with bruised lips from too much kissing in the front seat of their parents’ borrowed car. Urban Dictionary defines them as, “A usually dark-colored skin mark left on any part of the body after having it sucked for a long period of time.”

Thanks to the undying “Twilight” phenomena, teenagers (and, I imagine, some of the adults who have claimed their stake in Team Edward or Team Jacob,) are now indulging in biting — like wanna-be vampires. In the things-that-make-you-go-huh? category, teens are biting each other, and yes, exchanging blood, and not just on the neck. Arms, chests and even tender faces have bite marks.

“Why?” you may ask.

Vampires have invaded the United States’ culture, from the “Twilight” franchise to shows like “True Blood,” sucking in millions of viewers. Vampire fiends even have their teeth filed to look like fangs. The biting fetish only reiterates how twisted pop culture has become in daily life. It shows someone cares, teens say. (How about just passing a note, scribbled with “I like you, I care about you, BFF”?)

Teenagers told the Web site, Radical Parenting, that they bite each other for numerous reasons, including they like the “excitement” of pain. Cutting – a parental concern of years past – didn’t, well, cut it for them anymore.

They also said biting is hard core but not permanent, like piercings or tattoos, which most states prohibit for anyone under 18.

Parents naturally are concerned about biting. Where skin is broken, bacteria enters. CBS medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton told the New York Daily News, “Any time there’s a break in the skin, especially when you’re talking about the human mouth, it’s loaded with bacteria . . . You can set up for potentially some serious skin infections.”

(With a slim possibility of AIDS? A couple of teenagers told me, disturbingly, that no one worries about that anymore.)

Biting is considered a new status symbol that displays ownership. Historically, teenagers gave each other more discreet symbols of their love. They exchanged class rings or, once upon a time, wore boyfriends’ letter sweaters to signify commitment.

Not anymore. “OK — biting trend I have done, will do, and do,” says Chloe, 14, who lives in Little Rock. For Chloe, at least the love bites are “not based on vampirism — especially because I detest ‘Twilight.’ It just feels good and it’s a way of leaving a mark on someone you care a lot about, or getting a mark left.”

And oh, how far we have come with influences. In the 1980s, a friend dressed like Madonna every day for months, wearing lace gloves, crinoline skirts and rubber O-ring bracelets to school. In junior high, I had my Siouxsie Sioux phase of heavy black eyeliner, teased hair (green at one time) and fishnets. The big pain factor there? Those fishnets rub bad blisters with high heels.

It seemed so radical then, but so innocent now.

Today’s muse is fashionista music goddess Lady Gaga. Teenagers everywhere aspire to meet her, and be her – to the point of risking eye infections.

They ape the wide-eyed doe look Lady Gaga sports in her space-age surrealist video, “Bad Romance.” Ironically, in the song, Lady Gaga, whose eyes in the video are computer enhanced, sings, “I want your disease.” Indeed. That just may be what teens get if they wear the super-sized contact lenses that transform the wearer into a Blythe Doll.

The contacts, called “circle lenses,” have become a YouTube hit. Makeup artist Michelle Phan stars in a video, which has generated nearly 10 million hits, detailing how to create the “googly eyed” look.

To copy Lady Gaga, you need fake eyelashes, black liquid eyeliner, white eyeliner, purple and white shimmery eye shadow, along with drops of Rhoto V to both prep the eye for the contacts and to get the red out. The eye should look as ivory as an anime character. Then insert the contacts, which come in cute, sparkly containers including one featuring Hello Kitty and range from $20 to $30. Voila!

Time consuming? Yes — but so was creating new wave and goth eyes back in the day. The contacts however, which are inserted over the cornea, are not FDA-approved. Though they are easily obtained online, it is actually illegal to sell the Asian-manufactured lenses in the United States.

The one teen fad that never goes out of style, regardless of the decade, is danger. (“Rebel Without a Cause,” the first movie to accurately address teen angst, was filled with fast cars and guns.) Kids argue that biting and contact lenses are no more risky than two adult indulgences — cosmetic surgery and tattoos. Biting and contact lenses likely won’t kill anyone, but they may cost parents money for antibiotics and a doctor’s visit.

No doubt, helicopter parents are twirling over these two latest teen crazes. But kids crave edginess. They seek out danger like adults search for the latest savings at Home Depot.

Written by suziparker1313

March 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm