McGinnis: Analysis of the Zombie Apocalypse: Why are we so obsessed with the undead?Written by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note: Through a remarkable accident involving a laptop, a microwave and a copy of “Joe Dirt” on DVD, we have somehow accessed a column that Jeff McGinnis will write five years from now, in the year 2020. Please enjoy this glimpse into our horrific future.
Hello, everybody! How are you all doing? Holding up okay? Cool. Now, it’s been a most atypical few days, I admit, what with the sudden outbreak of the zombie apocalypse and all. I trust if you’re reading this you still have ready access to the internet, or have managed to fight your way to a corner store to pick up a print copy of the Free Press. If the latter is true, I speak on behalf of all of us at the paper when I thank you for your loyal patronage. We hope our product is worth every second of your blood-soaked commute.
I realize the temptation is to get all panicky and doom-and-gloom in a situation like this. I mean, sure, bodies walking the streets, loved ones returning as rotting corpses, the stench of death in the air, etc., etc. But really when one thinks about it … this isn’t as bad as it could have been, is it?
I mean, seriously. We’ve been made to anticipate that the coming of zombies would signify the end of the world. Hundreds and hundreds of movies, novels, comic books, video games, TV shows and so on have conditioned us to have certain … well … expectations of what this day would be like once it arrived. The swift collapse of society, the rapid rotting of human existence down to its ugly core, an every-man-for-himself fight for survival, blah blah. We know what’s supposed to happen. That’s the way it’s always depicted.
But the reality is really not that horrific, right? I mean, sure, the first time you sink an axe into the head of what used to be your next-door neighbor, it’s a little unsettling. But after three or four times, it just kinda becomes another thing that you do, right? You wake up, brush your teeth, grab the paper and decapitate Steve from up the block who’s now a monster lazily gnawing on your mailbox. It’s just another thing.
And it’s not like the zombies have proven to be that horrific or deadly. For real. I mean, all those fantasies of fast-running packs of flesh-eating ghouls ready to tear us limb from limb just seem silly now, don’t they? We are talking about walking, rotting corpses. Their tendons would probably snap like dry twigs the second they broke into a light trot. So they’re stuck doing that slow, wobbly shuffle and getting distracted by shiny things — not exactly characteristics of an apex predator.
So really, unless you’re remarkably slow or remarkably stupid, the zombies aren’t much of a bother at all. Sure, if you’re stationary long enough — getting gas, in line at the movies, voting, what have you — one might become a nuisance. But all you have to do is walk away at even a slightly brisk pace and you’re fine. Really, after all the hype, your average zombie attack is only slightly more annoying than an encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness.
This won’t even last that long, at the end of the day. As mentioned, these are corpses. Animated corpses, sure, but dead flesh regardless. And what corpses do best is … well, rot. After a few more days, the walking dead will become the piles-of-viscera-we-run-over-on-the-way-to-work. The most lasting impact of all this will be the bill for cleanup.
This all has made me wonder — why? All those years we were so enthralled by stories of this kind of thing, wildly unlikely tales of a world forever torn asunder by zombies. What about those stories did we find so engaging?
I guess because in reality, the apocalypse — the real one, whenever it comes — won’t be nearly as thrilling as this. The end of civilization probably won’t be something we can dramatically take a stand against. It’ll be a bug that wipes us out. Or an asteroid. Or climate change will finally become a problem too big to ignore. Sure, we coulda done something years ago about that one, but what fun would that have been? You can’t solve global warming with a machine gun, can you?
So we indulged in the easy fantasy, the one we could imagine ourselves surviving and thriving in. But now that the zombies have come and gone and it’s been as worrisome as an above-average snowfall, will we grow up enough to tackle the real problems head-on?
Eh, probably not. Come on. I’ll meet you all on the roof for target practice. Best headshot wins a soda.
Jeff McGinnis is Pop Culture Editor at Toledo Free Press. He can be reached at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.