At first, there was the Vampire craze. You know what I mean if you’ve been alive and able to think coherently in the last ten years or so. Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood and so on, Vampire have been everywhere, with mixed results. Thankfully, it seems to be dying down, so that uncah Dracul can focus on licking his wounds and try to regain some dignity, while crying on Bram Stoker’s lap. And it looks like that the next big thing are zombies.
Beginning with the Walking Dead, a successful comic book turned TV-Series sensation and successful video game –Survival Instinct NEVER HAPPENED-, going through World War Z -one of my favourite books ever turned into a SHITTY MOVIE-, Shaun of the Dead and even Warm Bodies. Ignoring the latter abomination, all the products that have come out up to now seem to be coherent on one point: zombies are scary and hungry for your flesh.
Although, we have to ask ourselves, why do Zombies scare us so much? At all?
If you think about it, especially in light of Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide, they’re not that dangerous, if one uses common sense. Zombies are slow, and only turn you into one of them if they can sink their teeth into your flesh. Each and every zombie apocalypse setting has one requirement for it to happen: humanity has to be completely unprepared for a disease which’s main way of spreading is biting, which is a terrible transmission device.
It has to be unprepared to contain an infection that can only spread by bites or infected meat/body parts, unprepared to deal with killing them, unprepared physically, mentally and in matters of equipment. But at the end of day, there’s nothing really superhuman about them. Their strengths are the same as a human’s, and while they are devoid of pain and fear they lack our intellect. A well prepared group of humans is the most dangerous thing on the face of earth, and it’s certainly more dangerous than zombies, as long as the numbers do not stretch too much.
So, exactly why do we fear zombies that much? Even after seeing them on the silver screen in all kind of matters and variations, wasted, dispatched, and destroyed with everything from fire to chainsaw hands, what is it that makes them so terrifying to us still?
Well, it all traces back to a little something that has been our race’s companion since the stone age. It’s called Phagophobia.
Phagophobia is the fear of swallowing or eating or, most importantly, being eaten. And if in today’s world the chance of that happening to a human is very slim, think about our ancestors. You don’t even have to go back to the time of sabertooth tigers, just think of when most of Europe was one big forest, the Dark Ages. Not many roads except for those left by the Romans, no patrols, plenty of wolves and bears and other things which, if they fancied so, could have easily turned a human into that day’s meal. Those who play The Elder Scrolls may be familiar with the dangers of the wild.
This is fear that was born out of the fight for survival, and it’s still very much alive in humanity even to this day, and zombie stories are not the first ones to capitalize on that. Just think about the fables and stories that your sadistic parents tell you at bedtime. Red Riding Hood? Grandma and granddaughter swallowed whole by the wolf. Orcs? They eat children alive. Puss in Boots? The orc gets eaten alive. You’ll be surprised of how many instances of people being eaten or swallowed there are in the stories of your childhood, but that’s intentional. It’s the easiest way to scare kids, and adults too.
The most terrifying part about zombies is not really turning into one of them, but how they kill you. Bite by bite, chomp by snatch, and you’re alive through every moment of it until they nip something vital or you finally lose enough blood. They say being burned alive is the most painful way to go, but being eaten alive is probably the one that will make you wish for death the earliest.
And with that morbid thought in mind, I guess we can end this. What do you think about zombies? What do you think the next big craze is going to be? Be sure to let me know in the comments and the Pool of the Day.
Meinos Kaen out!
- PTSD – World War Z (meinoskaen.wordpress.com)
- 9 True Facts About Zombie Biology From Expert Max Brooks (buzzfeed.com)
- Zombies – What’s with our fascination with the undead? (beaconnews.ca)
- Are You Prepared for World War Z? (wholesalehalloweencostumes.com)