Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zombies and the Seven Theses (Part 2)

This monstrosity continues in its redefinition of how monsters work which leads into Cohen's second and fourth concepts: escape and difference. Although Zombies may not always 'escape' in literal terms and although Cohen shows how various singular monsters come back repeatedly in other texts, Zombies typically survive in a different way. Their essence, how they pass their monstrous traits on, is their function of escape. If seen as a collective conscious (or lack of), their trait (whether virus, biological, mystical, etc...) of passing to humans survives their continuous destruction. Their contagion lies dormant, violently passive, waiting for a host to accidently expose themselves in order to start the spreading cycle all over again. The most socially potent aspect that Cohen points out that is applicable to the Zombie mythos is how the Zombie 'escapes' into different texts over the decades, both in how they are created and how they function. The early Zombie was typically created from voodoo or some unexplained phenomenon wherein the current Zombie has very modern creation explanations typically through science as well as the change from slow, shambling horrors to the quicker more violent reincarnations seen today. This shift is a socially important indicator of both our change in science as well as modernizing culturally. We went from a slower society where information was not as accessible to a society infused with high technology, instant data access, twitter/network addicted individuals. This leads to the idea of difference and the Zombies exploitation of xenophobia as a cultural motivator. The new duality they create of Human/Dead exemplifies our social (specifically the US) fear of the unknown. This in fact brings in another binary: USA vs "Other". The idea of Zombie strangely resonates with Edward Said's "Orientalism" and the idea of far east and the "Other". With terror plots ever present in the network media, Zombies symbolically stand for those that are a threat to American culture and way of life. Hence the need to eradicate, well that and to survive, but that too is part of the mythos and symbolism. In order to survive one must kill the "other" first.

This idea of killing brings up the sixth trait, that of desires and the forbidden. Zombies attraction is created from the lack of constraints that they are solely comprised of. What is a Zombie other then the basic primal functions and lower base thoughts. There are no terms to them such as consequences or repercussions. This "egress from constraints" is reciprocated in the human element as a reaction. Cohen sees that the opposing aspect of the monstrous typically "become monstrous oneself" (12) due to the social surroundings. This is never truer then in Zombie lore. If a person isn't changed into a Zombie through contact then they take on the 'monstrous' by their actions: killing, stealing for survival, looting, ignoring laws, etc... Although it could be explained that this is, again, for survival, it is none the less humanity being stripped away leaving behind the distorted.

Through these ideas Cohen finalizes that the monstrous makes us question ourselves. What then do Zombies make us question? Is the use of science going to finally condemn us to a land overrun with the dead? Is society doomed to overconsumption and the passive enslavement by hegemonic forces out for money? Or is the Zombie simply stating that we are all monsters just waiting to be scratched or bitten in order that our inner monstrosity might have an excuse to emerge.


  1. Nice job on your paper!! :D Hope you get a good grade :P

  2. I said it before, but damnit, I'll repeat myself.

    If I were a teacher, you'll be already getting your diploma.

  3. thumbs up! always enjoy your blog!

  4. Pretty cool, keep up the good work:)