Why We Love Zombies

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robinson crusoe, the original survival story, we just love survival stories, we always have and we always will. it's a sub reason for why we like apocalypse, we want to survive against the odds.

Yup rule 2, sums it up pretty well.

I don't fear the outsider; it's the pack I hate; faceless ununique nonindividuals. Who doesn't love to see a zombie tear apart a brainless cheerleader/jock or an entire troupe of vapid teenagers?

Where's the part about us liking zombies because they can get away with doing illegal or impossible things such as cannibalism & still being able to walk with two broken legs?

Meh, I wish there were more games where you got to BE a zombie instead of fighting against them.

zombies are boring. i think being on the internet for a while makes things seem old once they hit mainstream. but then again, zombies were never cool. they were always just fucking annoying. i cannot remember anything but negative emotions or remarks towards zombies as a subject (towards the zombies themselves).

i wish it'd just ebb out and our civilization would start thinking about something more interesting, like space and the unknown or something third, for zombies have become stale.

"Why We Love Zombies"

*in best Tonto voice* 'What do you mean "we," white man?'

Zombies were a fun retro-gimmick for a while at the early upswing of the latest wave of zombiephilia. It's tiresome, now, because zombies were an inherently boring enemy to begin with and have gotten moreso the more thoroughly the trope has been run into the ground. When abominations like Fido and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies are being inflicted on the world, you know it's gotten out of hand, but it's not just that the whole thing is tiresome at this point. It's that it's gotten actively stupid and is making the world a worse place. "Zombie walks" have predictably deteriorated from fun celebrations of cultural kitsch into drunken fratboy rampages. There is actually a company that's started manufacturing and selling ultra-sharp edged weapons (no, not mock-ups, but actual functional weapons) ostensibly for their customers to use during the "zombie apocalypse," because of course that's totally what's going to happen and they're totally not going to get their undead-humping asses sued off when someone inevitably cuts his-or-her spouse's head off with one of the damned things.

So, at this point I hate zombies. They're boring, their fan-culture is boring, the product involving them has gotten boring. If we want unambiguous, human-esque foe fodder for videogames, I sez demons are a far better bet. Leastways with demons, they can be a credible challenge... and they tie in with apocalypse narratives nicely too.

likalaruku:
I don't fear the outsider; it's the pack I hate; faceless ununique nonindividuals. Who doesn't love to see a zombie tear apart a brainless cheerleader/jock or an entire troupe of vapid teenagers?

you have some issues dude, go sort them out. this is not healthy.

Why do we love zombies so much now?

"It's a fad."

Nothing else needs to be said.

You've got to be fucking with me. We love zombies? Do we really? I'm sick of them. They've got to be the most mind-numbingly boring enemy ever and they're getting more and more overused. Especially in some of the bigger titles to come out recently. It's getting painful watching how developers shoehorn zombies into more and more games.

So, there's nothing that I really disagree with in the article proper, but I'd like to say something about the last paragraph.

The fact is, if 100% of the doomsayers up to this point were wrong, ours aren't going to be any different. Humanity is too widespread and too disorganized to bring about their own total extinction and the Earth is too small and insignificant to reach the attention of any giant asteroid or murderous all-powerful intelligence. You're going to die and humanity will tenaciously march on, forgetting about you and the entire world you knew.

The first sentence here is a logical fallacy, full stop. Just because soothsayers and astrologers trying to predict the future failed miserably for thousands of years does not mean that modern scientific methods are equally useless. As for the humanity's disorganization safeguarding us from total extinction: the amount of destructive potential that a single person or entity can wield has grown exponentially. Killing used to need to be done hand to hand. Now a single person (or government) can push a single button and wipe a major city off the map. The insignificance of the Earth has nothing to do with an asteroid hitting it. Its relatively small size does make it astronomically improbable, but it's not exactly without precedent, lest we forget.

The Earth itself is very hardy, and life will withstand almost anything less destructive than a gamma ray burst. We, on the other hand, are incredibly fragile. The climate has been relatively stable for the entirety of human existence (yes, Ice Ages; that's why I said "relatively"). It's at best foolish, and at worst actively destructive, to hold the opinion that we are incapable of wiping ourselves out, or just altering our lives beyond recognition.

I just got skull-fucked by the dick of Truth.

Good show Ben. Good show.

I do like zombies, and apocalypses, go Kim Jong-Il!

Points 1 and 2 also apply to Nazis, at least in modern culture... Which is probably why World War 2 games (and other games with Nazis as bad guys, like Metro 2033) are also extremely common (rather than any actual pervasive interest in military history).

Yahtzee!
As much as you don't care...
This whole section: "4. Humans love apocalypses"... Word to word... I don't always agree with what you write, and generally consider your videos much better than written pieces, but this, sir...
This is just spot on. Spot-frikkin-on. Thank you.

Yahtzee, you should see Hereafter. It's mostly all about the afterlife.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101019/REVIEWS/101019979

bdcjacko:
I have been tired of zombies for a while. They need to bring back dinosaurs. Red Dead Raptor would be awesome.

Totally! Aside from the crappy remake of Turok in '08, I don't think there's been a single dinosaur game (at least not one that I've heard of). At least a new Jurassic Park game, just give me something!!!

I only commented because it says Zombies in the title

woooooo ZOMBIE BANDWAGON

While I won't say I dislike zombies (given that I actually do enjoy the thought of them and the fact that it's an apocalypse that seems like it could be more than just me dying because of nature in an event that takes place in a few seconds), I'm a bit tired of them.

You see there's a few problems with zombies

1. They're an enemy I know all to well. They're recognizable. I've killed them in games just as much as I've seen them die in films. They're not some unknown horror, but rather now the equivalent of a pissed off alligator. It's unsettling to see, yes, but I know what it will do and that is bite me. However, I don't fear alligators to the point that seeing one will keep me up at night, because I know what they are, what they can do, their motivations, and that they are mortals.
Worst of all, I can recognize them almost instantly when they show up. I'm getting tired of every single zombie apocalypse having to explain to the new survivor that these are zombies. Do zombie movies not exist in those places?

2. They're too separate from humans. Brainwashed minions that twitch their way towards you shouting random pieces of advice are much more unnerving because when the question of "What's wrong with him?!" comes up, you reply that he's crazy, a state of mind, while you identify the zombie as such, a creature now different from a human. Sure both enemies you want to find out why they attacked you, but the zombie you're wondering why he turned. Yes it can happen to you, but if it does then you're dead, rather than losing your mind and still living, effectively killing you and yet not at the same time. The only zombie like this in recent memory would be the Infected from L4D, who according to the Word of God, have a strain of rabies, meaning more than likely they're actually still conscious just delusional as hell. However, an average player will most likely write them off as a zombie and just gun them down without any fear since that makes them less terrifying.

3. They're only able to shock, not scare. Given that this is Yahtzee's column you should all know the difference. Like I mentioned above, the most a zombie can threaten you with is death, rather than a fate worse that such. Sure we've all been told that the person is still there somewhere inside, which is what is supposed to make it terrifying, but it doesn't, since we always see those who get turned treated as if they were dead. Also, remember that the zombie's methods of attacks are actually limited compared to most other enemies, and that the most common are those animals use. We get at most a jolt of fear that kicks in fight or flight, not makes us feel unnerved for some time afterwards.

Compare this to any enemy at all armed with something that isn't even a weapon: a chainsaw. That rev is an unnerving sound that we all know as lethal, and is probably more recognizable than a gunshot to some gamers, as it's a warning. When used as a weapon, it brings up uncomfortable thoughts about the death it brings, a rather gory one that seems incredibly painful. It also carries with it a sort of distrust we all have of any item that goes incredibly fast a moments notice, as if we were unfamiliar with it being able to do so.

The other thing is that with a zombie, you know how they are made. Corpse + whatever is bringing things to life = zombie. Because you know half the formula, and know what the second half does, it doesn't ever really work your nerves as you try to figure out what happened (exception to this is once again L4D with the special infected, where you'll try to figure out just how the disease managed to produce 5 sorts of monstrosities from normal people). Compare this to stuff like Silent Hill, where you have no idea what these monsters are or how they are made, Bioshock, where you know these are people who over indulged on ADAM, but you have no idea how much they took, how long it took to change, or even what the person was like before, or even Alan Wake, where you begin out not knowing what caused people to change, if they needed to be dead to do so, what the thing behind the scenes could do, or even what the process was to be Taken, and you'll see that zombies are just too simple in construction compared to other horror enemies.

4. There's a reason they want brains. Nothing they do seems to indicate intelligence, meaning you're fighting a dumb enemy. They charge forward into gunfire with no survival instinct, an action that further separates them from a thinking person. Since they do actually go down from this (unlike certain invincible enemies that hunt you down over the course of a game), it isn't that scary, and sort of makes them pathetic. Compare this to an enemy that just runs past you rather than at you, getting you unnerved because if the attack doesn't come immediately, you feel them plotting something. Or how about an enemy that isn't going for the kill immediately, but rather goes about turning off lights or happens to only attack a few times before disappearing? However the worst would be the ones hunting you, intelligently keeping track of you as you progress, waiting for the right time to catch you off guard. Zombies at best might bump into something that causes you trouble or just found you when they were stumbling about looking for food.

5. There have been way too many as of late. Mostly I'm just sick of this. It doesn't help that unlike stuff like space aliens, there's little variety in them. You want to use undead in horror genre with a classic feel? Fine. Use walking skeletons, because trust me, they're much better. No one will be able to tell immediately how the skeleton came to life or even if it was from a dead body or not, or how to kill them. Also, while they would be separate from a human, they don't have an easily defined group name, and they're in a different place on the Uncanny Valley).

For me the love of Zombies comes from not only the want to destroy but the fact that the enemies feel no fear and have no personality or emotion. They have one thing on there mind. You. They want to eat you and destroy you which makes them the most dangerous enemy. Not only that but if you kill 1 you might as well have saved your bullet. But kill 6000 and you'r making small progress of a drop in the hat. Where there is 10 there is usually 50. They enemy is just a force that has no weaknesses and won't stop till you either die or get far enough away it can no longer see, smell or hear you.

I must say I'm amazed at the depth and complexity Yahtzee thinks. Only he could take something as simple and generic as the zombie and turn it into a walk through the human psyche. Interesting article to say the least.

Very nice. I think #1 is the most important point in here. I read some time ago an excellent article (forgot where, unfortunately) about the significance of vampires, how they actually mean that someone who sacrifices other humans, looking at them as prey, will also lose their humanity and become more like a beast, being confined to the night where other beasts go bump. And how the vampire crazy brought about by Twilight et al is just a fascet of the fact that to be selfish, to think only of oneself, is becoming more and more acceptable, if not the outright norm.

I think we can learn a lot about a culture by looking at what monsters they create. Vampires as we know them today come from the Victorian ages and represent a demonization of personal impetus and sexual drive. As those things become normal in our eyes, so do vampires slowly become the good guys. Meanwhile, the main problem of our age is that we are surrounded by people, all the time, and yet so few of them we can call friends. We literally do not care if they live or die. These creatures we see on the street - that look exactly like humans but do not register as so to us - are the zombies. Being surrounded by a group of strange creatures that look like us but as far as we know are nothing but empty husks who want to eat our souls is the very definition of life in a modern metropolis.

A final point, there's a fallacy in your article. Of course that 100% of the people who predicted the total destruction of the human race are wrong, because if at any point any of them are right, there won't be anyone left to count how many are right. There have been plenty of apocalypses in the past, we just look past them because in movies an apocalypse will happen overnight and usually with very pretty CGI, but in real life it's a small change that will happen over many years. Look at the end of the Roman Empire and compare it with a post-apoc setting. Technology flung back for centuries? Check. Democratic processes replaced by small absloutist sovereignities? Check. Infrastructure completely destroyed, causing poverty and famine? Check. Remains of old world's building still remain, now useless? Check (some of those aqueducts are still around).

I always thought the one reason why zombies are so overused is identical to the one reason why Nazis are as reoccuring; they are both defined by vague definitions, one of those being that zombies are really, really easy to kill. Genuinely. Their mode of attack consists of their mouth, and no person has successfully killed another person with their mouth moving at a fourth of a meter per second. Some people just like that feeling of complete dominance, and a rabbit lacks accomplishment and a bear lacks the notion to not kill you.

But somehow they're also human, and this gives writers clearance to give them all sorts of intelligience. They may/may not degenerate to a basic pack-like society. They may/may not be able to use basic weapons (or advanced weapons, like a gun). They may/may not have wacky superpowers. More importantly, they are an unknown species and as a result they can do whatever they want. This is all described when you put a zombie in a tank, because we have no idea what it's going to do in that tank. Worst comes to worst it just lies there. Best, the tank is actually a Transformer.

There's also some commentary on bear-baiting and gladiatorial entertainment, and some conceptual thinking on anarchy and predatorial inclinations, but my God, zombies are zombies. Take gun, shoot brain, rinse, repeat, thus is the zombie cycle; writing a thesis paper about the damned things is congesting the "shoot brain-->ecstasy" action.

I actually hate zombies and I can't stand these zombie video games and non-zombie video games with zombie DLC's and shit like that. I though that I was lucky to be born in 1989 at the end of the zombie era but fuck, this is even worse than the 80's.
Still, I admit that I like The Walking Dead. But I can appreciate a good TV show whatever the show is about.

Jabberwock xeno:
"no one really knows what happens after death. The only thing we do know is that the concept of an afterlife, any afterlife, even the hot fiery ones, holds more appeal than the notion that our consciousness will simply cease to be."

Never knew you felt that way yahtzee, so do I.

Incidentally, that's a pretty bad generalisation. I guess I can see where that'd be an easy one to make, but plenty of people are pretty ok with the thought that they will simply cease to be when brain-death comes.

Deshara:

Jabberwock xeno:
"no one really knows what happens after death. The only thing we do know is that the concept of an afterlife, any afterlife, even the hot fiery ones, holds more appeal than the notion that our consciousness will simply cease to be."

Never knew you felt that way yahtzee, so do I.

Incidentally, that's a pretty bad generalisation. I guess I can see where that'd be an easy one to make, but plenty of people are pretty ok with the thought that they will simply cease to be when brain-death comes.

Exactly, hence why I was surprised that Yahtzee and I both fear cessation of existence over any hell or afterlife.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
The only thing we do know is that the concept of an afterlife, any afterlife, even the hot fiery ones, holds more appeal than the notion that our consciousness will simply cease to be.

Speak for yourself, Yahtzee.

You know Yahtzee, I think you're the only one who looks this deeply into zombies. I feel that people like zombies just because it's a trend and developers just want to wring as many zombies out of their customer's palms as possible. Even if you say it's worthwhile to step back and analyse our lives and those around us once in a while, no one does this a lot anymore.

As for zombies that I feel are decently done, I do have a bit of respect for the Headcrab Zombies in Half-Life 2, because I can hear the agonising screams of the person being controlled, and now the situation is much more chilling: they are alive, and there is nothing that you can do to save them. I don't like them because I don't like horror in general, but I do appreciate good horror over bad horror.

threefourfive:
Nah. I think zombies are fascinating and frightening to people on various levels, but in terms of why geeks in particular love them, I think you've missed the biggest point: zombies represent everything we hate about modern society, because they're average joes. They represent soulessness, conformity, and a loss of individuality. There's a reason so many zombie movies take place in malls - all of it is associated with superficiality, capitalism, and the mindless pursuit of stuff. We love zombie apocalypse because in the breakdown of society, being a loner is the only thing that will keep you alive, and we feel good about that.

Basically zombies are everything we're afraid of becoming, because we all want to be special. Particularly geeks and artsies.

Well he didn't say as much, but this could tie into Yahtzee's point about zombies being a perpetual 'other'. This is definitely a different take on it though, and an interesting one at that. Granted, all zombies 'conform' by eating the brains of living humans (instead of, you know, Rice Krispies or whatever).

But yeah, when someone calls you 'zombie', you usually don't interpret that to mean you are a shambling corpse. You interpret it to mean you are a mindless, soulless servitor with no will or individuality to call your own.

Interesting...

I've heard this opinion soooo many times. I happen to agree with it, but I'm still tired of hearing it.

Also, have a bit of the ol' existential angst eh?

theklng:

likalaruku:
I don't fear the outsider; it's the pack I hate; faceless ununique nonindividuals. Who doesn't love to see a zombie tear apart a brainless cheerleader/jock or an entire troupe of vapid teenagers?

you have some issues dude, go sort them out. this is not healthy.

Agreed. And furthermore, there is no such thing as a 'faceless, non-unique individual'. That phrase is a complete oxymoron. Just because they aren't loudly trumpeting it in your face or painting canvases and writing beat poetry or whatever doesn't mean a person isn't an individual.

I firmly believe that it is impossible to stop people from having independent thoughts. It's just not that practical to EXPRESS your independent thoughts all the time, which is why this unpleasant fiction about everybody being mindless, soulless sock-puppets, just because they work a 9 to 5 job, exists.

EDIT: My bad, you said "faceless, ununique, nonindividual". That is not an oxymoron, it's just something that doesn't exist.

I've never met or seen anyone who shaved their face off (you can't even do that, can you?), had absolutely nothing unique about them, and had no individuality whatsoever. Ironically, if I did meet someone like that, they would be about the most unique person in the world.

Yes, some people try really hard to conform to other people's expectations. That doesn't mean they're not unique, and aren't individuals. In fact, it says a lot of distinct things about their character; particularly that they're dependent upon others for validation and are probably very insecure.

Maybe that's what you meant. Maybe you don't like insecure people who are leeches and afraid to be themselves. In that case, you are the most non-unique person of all, because you're now a member of a club which at last count contained just about everyone.

likalaruku:
I don't fear the outsider; it's the pack I hate; faceless ununique nonindividuals. Who doesn't love to see a zombie tear apart a brainless cheerleader/jock or an entire troupe of vapid teenagers?

Where's the part about us liking zombies because they can get away with doing illegal or impossible things such as cannibalism & still being able to walk with two broken legs?

Meh, I wish there were more games where you got to BE a zombie instead of fighting against them.

The attitude you have is most certainly "hating the outsider" by the way.

You have to understand that the "outsider" here means "the group I'm not a part of." From your statements, you clearly do not identify with "cheerleader(s)/jock(s) or... vapid teenagers." So, to you, they are "outsiders."

Understand that I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, it's just human nature.

Zachary Amaranth:

bdcjacko:

Sometimes it is better not to ask questions and just accept. How do bumblebees fly? How do the Amish take over space? How did the dinosaurs die out? These question may never be answered.

I think we may have answered a couple of those.

Not in the amish text books we haven't.

Hexenwolf:

likalaruku:
I don't fear the outsider; it's the pack I hate; faceless ununique nonindividuals. Who doesn't love to see a zombie tear apart a brainless cheerleader/jock or an entire troupe of vapid teenagers?

Where's the part about us liking zombies because they can get away with doing illegal or impossible things such as cannibalism & still being able to walk with two broken legs?

Meh, I wish there were more games where you got to BE a zombie instead of fighting against them.

The attitude you have is most certainly "hating the outsider" by the way.

You have to understand that the "outsider" here means "the group I'm not a part of." From your statements, you clearly do not identify with "cheerleader(s)/jock(s) or... vapid teenagers." So, to you, they are "outsiders."

Understand that I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, it's just human nature.

The outsider is the person who does not join any group & expresses an individual opinion, the insider is the person who feels like they need to belong to something & not go against the wishes or tastes of the group.

Reminds me of a piece Simon Pegg did on why zombies shouldn't run:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/04/television-simon-pegg-dead-set

I agree with Yahtzee's arguments. There is something cathartic in justifiable slaughter of our own sick species. The creation of zombies usually comes about because of man's mistakes (man made viruses, chemicals, etc.) So it's nice to be able to step back, shoot a zombie in the head, and say "see? they started it".

Yeah, you're projecting. Or maybe I'm just a hopeless optimist.

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